In October of 2005, Tamara Mena, now 28 years old, and her long-time boyfriend, Patrick, decided to take a short trip to Rosarito, Mexico from San Diego. To avoid drinking and driving, they hopped in a taxi to be safe. Just a few miles from their destination, the taxi struck something in the road and Patrick instinctively used his arms to push her head down for protection. They had collided with a horse, which ended up landing on top of the car, killing both Patrick and the driver.
Mena’s life was spared thanks to Patrick, but she suffered a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed and unable to communicate for months due to her lungs collapsing as well as several other fractures.
When anyone suffers such a traumatic injury, the emotional toll it takes on that person is incredibly difficult to endure. Mena, fortunately, took to heart some words that her aunt shared with her post-accident. She said, “Just remember, you are a not a victim, you are a survivor,” Mena says. She is a positive role model for anyone — especially young women — who has faced adversity that has greatly impacted his or her life.
Scroll down to learn more about Tamara in the video below.
After her accident, Mena returned to college, CSU Stanislaus, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies with the highest of honors. Her drive to succeed has taken her on international business trips as a motivational speaker as well as a fashion model. Most recently, she took to the catwalk at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, modeling for FTL Moda Loving You in collaboration with Fondazione Vertical.
“I'm passionate about making a difference and leaving a mark in this world,” Mena says. “As a person living with a spinal cord injury, I'm very thankful that something of this magnitude is being done to support research. Being a Wings for Life World Run Ambassador with the ability to share this message in both English and Spanish means the world to me. I have a passion to use my voice to make a difference, especially after losing the ability to communicate for two months after my accident.”
Mena participated in 2014 in her wheelchair and raced for 3.08 miles before the catcher car passed her, and she is training for this year’s race, determined to go even further! Join Tamara's team no matter where you're running, and help find a cure!