2023 ILSWA Hardship Application
Our 2023 ILSWA hardship recipient is Tonika Flowers. The ILSWA generated $5,230 in Split the Pot dollars at the Networking Social and Golf Outing and the proceeds were dispersed to Tonika. In addition the upcoming proceeds from the 50/50 Split the Pot for the Holiday Social will also be earmarked for Tonika as well. Thank you to Tonika for sharing her inspiring story and all the donors who contributed to the Tonika Flowers Recovery Fund.
Below is her story:
Wireless is/was part of my entire adult life.
I started my wireless career at the age of 17. I was the Leading Wireless Sale Representative at a local Sam’s Club. There I would learn of the relatively fast-selling technology of the mobile phone. On Saturday mornings, the line leading to our selling kiosk was always long. We could not open the kiosk fast enough. During this time, customers would require their cellular phone to be “programmed” prior to use. I quickly became an expert, programming cellular phones within minutes of purchase.
Throughout the years, I would continue to work with several different cellular / wireless organizations. From 360 Communications, Sprint, Clearwire, ATT, Crown Castle, and Mobilitie. The knowledge and experience I gained was unfathomable. It was so much fun to work in a fast past (somewhat competitive) environment.
Fast Forward… Friday, February 24, 2023. I started my day as any other day with a cup of coffee. I had a lingering headache from the week. However, it was a busy week at work. The weekend would be here, and I could soon relax. Unfortunately, this would never happen! By mid-morning, I experienced an internal “pop” in my head. Immediately, following was the worst headache ever! By evening, I drove myself to the immediate care and was told to go straight to the hospital. It was the University of Chicago where I would realize that I suffered an brain aneurysm (hemorrhagic stroke).
My worst fear would be that I could lose my cognitive abilities and be unable to support myself. I immediately sought family members to bring books and other literature to my hospital room. This was to keep my brain fresh and push me to move past this illness. The stroke caused severe vasospasms and nerve pain that radiated down my back. I would need a couple high risk surgeries to get back on my feet. My life was once thriving with opportunities and now I am learning to walk again.
During this process, I reached out to a few friends in the wireless industry to let them know what was going on. The news spread like a good wildfire. Before long, the support that I received pushed me to continue to move past this illness. I started to advocate for those who have experienced hemorrhagic strokes and to seek ways in which wireless technology can advance neurological procedures. I am thankful for my amazing family, friends, and colleagues in the wireless industry.
Thank you to Illinois State Wireless Association for the 2023 hardship award. Through this award, I can focus on my recovery and on medical advance stroke management. I am certain that somehow the wireless industry can assist in becoming an avenue in which risk can be identified early and easily. We just need to find the solution!