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Your Stories

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Thousands upon thousands of people have written to David over the years to share the affect of his message on their lives. David continues to receive hundreds of emails a week. We couldn't possibly list all of them but here is a very small sample. The stories speak for themselves.

I am really emotional right now, Mr. Toma. I don't know if you remember, I would assume not, but in probably the year 1982, I think, maybe even earlier, you came to my school. I was really messed up on drugs back then. Just starting on a journey that would lead me on a path of self destruction.

I remember your story and the way that you were, and how you talked to me after you spoke. I have, for many years, thought of that. You had planted the seed and it carried for my whole life after that. It took me many years of defeat with drugs and alcohol, but I just wanted you to know that I am sober now. I go to meetings daily and I sponsor guys in the program. I'll be 6 years clean and sober on April 1.

I think about my past and then you come up. I always wondered what happened to you. So with the Internet, I figured I would look to see. And this is the site that came up. I guess the reason I am e-mailing all of this to you is to say thank you. I never had a chance to say this to you, because when I got sober I never put things into perspective about who helped me and led me to finally get closer to my higher power. I realize that all along it was God trying to reach me through other people, and you were the first one. There had been others on the way to where I am now.

I think of the story that you told about your child and how your baby choked and died. I have children now, and I think about that time when you told that story, and this helps me to stay sober for them also. I have a son who is now 18 years old. He came to live with me when he was 15 because his mother was too drunk all the time to take care of him. He knew I was sober and he came to be with me. While he was with me, he started playing high school football and then he ended up getting hurt in a game. I mean really hurt. He ended up in a coma for several months. He had developed a blood clot in his brain from the hits and collapsed on the field. He nearly died, but I just wanted you to know that because of other caring people like yourself that are in the program that came to my aid when all of this happened, I was able to stay sober through it all. My son has since recovered for the most part, even though now he has a lot of problems with his memory and is partially paralyzed on his left side. I am grateful he is alive and that I am sober and can be there for him when he needs me.

It is so wonderful that I am able to write to you to tell you that even though you don't know me, you have effected my life in such a positive way, and have been a part of my life for 20-plus years, and that the miracle of being a sober person through a program like NA or CA or AA will have an everlasting effect on those who want to live rather then die from a hopeless disease that we share. I hope that I am not babbling on. I am just even more grateful that there is the Internet, and that I am able to come to a sort of full circle and say that you are always in my heart. Thank you for being who you are and coming to my school all those years ago.

Yours truly,

Joe

My freshman year of high school, you came to speak to our student body. You yelled and hugged and cried and touched each and every one of us in that gymnasium. And what you also did what tell us the truth. It has been almost 19 years to the day that you came to that school. Since then, there have been times in my life when drugs and alcohol seemed like a good idea, a way to escape, like after I was raped. But your voice always stopped me. Your hug and your tears and your pain always brought me back to reality and reminded me of what was ahead for me if I chose the wrong path.

I don't remember who my teachers were. I lost touch with friends from back then. I don't even live in the state anymore. But I could tell you what I was wearing that day, where I was sitting in the gym, and how you changed my life. So it may be a little late, and I may have even told you that day, but in case I forgot, thank you! From the bottom of my heart, for my life and for my children's lives, Thank You! For every glass I never drank, every joint I said No to, every bar I drove by, THANK YOU!!!

I only hope that some day, my children's school will be smart enough to bring you here to speak to my children and their friends. I try to tell them the stories I remember, like the couple who put their baby in the oven (that's the one I hear when things get bad!). I try to tell them what you told me, but nobody can break it down and get inside a person's head & heart the way you do. So I will keep asking the school board to arrange a visit, I will keep telling my kids the lessons I learned from you and I will keep you in my heart! May you and your family have every blessing, every happiness and every moment of peace in this life. Thank you, sir!

Sincerely,

Leigh

After your talk at our school I shook your hand and hugged you. I told you that you are a saint. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Your message is a powerful one. It is the most powerful talk I have ever heard regarding drugs.

I have been a wrestling coach for the past 14 years. A few years back, one of our wrestlers tried to kill himself by slitting his wrists. I spoke with him every day after the attempt. I found out that his home life was a disgrace to humanity. I gave him my home phone phone number and told him that if he needed to talk, I was here for him. The look on his face was a gift I will never forget. My act of compassion impacted him greatly. He thanked me on many occasions and we spoke often. He is now a junior in college and is doing well.

You are the best. God bless you!

Bryan

My name is Judi and I am 34 years old. When I was 15 you came to a school I attended. When I saw you, it changed me. I was a lost teenager whose parents had divorced a few years before. I was in 10th grade and wanting to be very sexually promiscuous. I hung around with the wrong crowd. To me drugs were everywhere and very accessible. I had always been a little afraid of doing drugs because my father was an alcoholic and beat my mother, and I saw what they did to him. Not to say I was not tempted when the cutest boys were doing them and my friends around me were too.

God told me NO! Although at that time, I had no idea it was God. You came to our school and I was so moved by your testimony, and yes you can say I was scared straight.

Although I can say I never did drugs (thank you God), I did drink. After I saw you, I always remembered your passion and love for kids and how desperate you were to keep them in line. Unfortunately, it was not immediate, but it was not what it might have been. I was going down the wrong road fast. I could have fallen victim to a horrible disease that has afflicted my family for many generations, but God had other plans. He brought you into my life and gave me a reason to respect myself enough to say NO.

Now I am a stay-at-home mom and I have been married almost 16 years. I have two daughters, one is 12 and one is 7. I share your story and tell her of the most powerful and passionate speaker I have ever seen.

Judi

This is a long overdue thank you.

Twenty-two years ago, you spoke to my high school. It came only weeks after I'd had a horrible experience. Just 15 at the time, I had gone with a friend to a movie. Before we went into the theater, we each drank about half a fifth of gin, then hid our bottles in the trash dumpster and went inside. After the movie, we came out, climbed inside the dumpsters to get our bottles, and before we could emerge from the dumpsters, the cops showed up. We were busted for underage drinking.

This was my second arrest in a year. The first, at 14, was for breaking curfew. (I was hitchhiking at 1:30 in the morning. Real smart, eh?)

At any rate, I knew by the next morning that my teenage drinking was not right, but it was hard to swear it off when everyone around me was doing it.

Then you showed up. You talked about principle, courage and meaning. You helped me to see the larger implications of this behavior - how it affected me, how it affected others. Minutes after your presentation was finished, I watched as other kids handed you their drugs. I was overwhelmed. Excepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, your message was the most impactful of my life.

Interestingly, very few people around me were pleased with my decision to swear off alcohol. But I stood firm - all throughout the rest of high school, and college, and throughout my adult life.

Today, I am the CEO of a successful public relations firm, a leader in my church and a happy husband and father. I am 37 years old, and I have achieved things in life because I have learned that doing what's right and standing on principle - even when it's hard - is always the way to go, and I trace that largely back to your words of 22 years ago.

In some ways, it still presents challenges. For example, our company does not serve alcohol at its Christmas party. My wedding was dry. This kind of stuff has been known to cause some grumbling. But I see the larger picture, and I stand on principle. That is a gift of God, and you were the instrument he used to give me that gift.

So thank you. I'm 22 years late in tell you this. I don't want to be delinquent one more day.

God bless you, David.

Dan

I am a nursing instructor. Recently you were gracious enough to speak to some of my nursing students. And what a blessing it was.

As a result of your visit, a small but significant number of students admitted to struggling with addiction problems of their own. Now I appeal to your generosity to ask if you might speak to another group as I know many of them live in drug-infested neighborhoods. If they are also users, I cannot say, but I truly believe a visit from you may help.

LaVerne

I just wanted to write you a note and tell you how thankful I am for you, your book and your life. I remember your show as a little guy sitting in front of the TV and how I wanted to be a police officer. I grew up and somehow lost sight of my childhood dreams. Two years ago, I came across your first book, and immediately recalled all the moments of my youth, watching you catch the bad guys and never forgetting your integrity. It was a reawakening for me.

With the events of 9/11, I looked again at my life. I decided my life was not as I had dreamed as a child, and decided to do something about it. This year, I entered the police academy. I am now in my 17th week of training, and could not be happier. It is quite a change for this 33-year-old husband and father of two. I just thought you should know that there are still fans out here, and we try to uphold the values and integrity that you instilled in us years ago.

Respectfully,

Joe

My freshman year of high school, you came to speak to our student body. You yelled and hugged and cried and touched each and every one of us in that gymnasium. And what you also did what tell us the truth. It has been almost 19 years to the day that you came to that school. Since then, there have been times in my life when drugs and alcohol seemed like a good idea, a way to escape, like after I was raped. But your voice always stopped me. Your hug and your tears and your pain always brought me back to reality and reminded me of what was ahead for me if I chose the wrong path.

I don't remember who my teachers were. I lost touch with friends from back then. I don't even live in the state anymore. But I could tell you what I was wearing that day, where I was sitting in the gym, and how you changed my life. So it may be a little late, and I may have even told you that day, but in case I forgot, thank you! From the bottom of my heart, for my life and for my children's lives, Thank You! For every glass I never drank, every joint I said No to, every bar I drove by, THANK YOU!!!

I only hope that some day, my children's school will be smart enough to bring you here to speak to my children and their friends. I try to tell them the stories I remember, like the couple who put their baby in the oven (that's the one I hear when things get bad!). I try to tell them what you told me, but nobody can break it down and get inside a person's head & heart the way you do. So I will keep asking the school board to arrange a visit, I will keep telling my kids the lessons I learned from you and I will keep you in my heart! May you and your family have every blessing, every happiness and every moment of peace in this life. Thank you, sir!

Sincerely,

Leigh

After your talk at our school I shook your hand and hugged you. I told you that you are a saint. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Your message is a powerful one. It is the most powerful talk I have ever heard regarding drugs.

I have been a wrestling coach for the past 14 years. A few years back, one of our wrestlers tried to kill himself by slitting his wrists. I spoke with him every day after the attempt. I found out that his home life was a disgrace to humanity. I gave him my home phone phone number and told him that if he needed to talk, I was here for him. The look on his face was a gift I will never forget. My act of compassion impacted him greatly. He thanked me on many occasions and we spoke often. He is now a junior in college and is doing well.

You are the best. God bless you!

Bryan

My name is Judi and I am 34 years old. When I was 15 you came to a school I attended. When I saw you, it changed me. I was a lost teenager whose parents had divorced a few years before. I was in 10th grade and wanting to be very sexually promiscuous. I hung around with the wrong crowd. To me drugs were everywhere and very accessible. I had always been a little afraid of doing drugs because my father was an alcoholic and beat my mother, and I saw what they did to him. Not to say I was not tempted when the cutest boys were doing them and my friends around me were too.

God told me NO! Although at that time, I had no idea it was God. You came to our school and I was so moved by your testimony, and yes you can say I was scared straight.

Although I can say I never did drugs (thank you God), I did drink. After I saw you, I always remembered your passion and love for kids and how desperate you were to keep them in line. Unfortunately, it was not immediate, but it was not what it might have been. I was going down the wrong road fast. I could have fallen victim to a horrible disease that has afflicted my family for many generations, but God had other plans. He brought you into my life and gave me a reason to respect myself enough to say NO.

Now I am a stay-at-home mom and I have been married almost 16 years. I have two daughters, one is 12 and one is 7. I share your story and tell her of the most powerful and passionate speaker I have ever seen.

Judi

This is a long overdue thank you.

Twenty-two years ago, you spoke to my high school. It came only weeks after I'd had a horrible experience. Just 15 at the time, I had gone with a friend to a movie. Before we went into the theater, we each drank about half a fifth of gin, then hid our bottles in the trash dumpster and went inside. After the movie, we came out, climbed inside the dumpsters to get our bottles, and before we could emerge from the dumpsters, the cops showed up. We were busted for underage drinking.

This was my second arrest in a year. The first, at 14, was for breaking curfew. (I was hitchhiking at 1:30 in the morning. Real smart, eh?)

At any rate, I knew by the next morning that my teenage drinking was not right, but it was hard to swear it off when everyone around me was doing it.

Then you showed up. You talked about principle, courage and meaning. You helped me to see the larger implications of this behavior - how it affected me, how it affected others. Minutes after your presentation was finished, I watched as other kids handed you their drugs. I was overwhelmed. Excepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, your message was the most impactful of my life.

Interestingly, very few people around me were pleased with my decision to swear off alcohol. But I stood firm - all throughout the rest of high school, and college, and throughout my adult life.

Today, I am the CEO of a successful public relations firm, a leader in my church and a happy husband and father. I am 37 years old, and I have achieved things in life because I have learned that doing what's right and standing on principle - even when it's hard - is always the way to go, and I trace that largely back to your words of 22 years ago.

In some ways, it still presents challenges. For example, our company does not serve alcohol at its Christmas party. My wedding was dry. This kind of stuff has been known to cause some grumbling. But I see the larger picture, and I stand on principle. That is a gift of God, and you were the instrument he used to give me that gift.

So thank you. I'm 22 years late in tell you this. I don't want to be delinquent one more day.

God bless you, David.

Dan

I am a nursing instructor. Recently you were gracious enough to speak to some of my nursing students. And what a blessing it was.

As a result of your visit, a small but significant number of students admitted to struggling with addiction problems of their own. Now I appeal to your generosity to ask if you might speak to another group as I know many of them live in drug-infested neighborhoods. If they are also users, I cannot say, but I truly believe a visit from you may help.

LaVerne

I just wanted to write you a note and tell you how thankful I am for you, your book and your life. I remember your show as a little guy sitting in front of the TV and how I wanted to be a police officer. I grew up and somehow lost sight of my childhood dreams. Two years ago, I came across your first book, and immediately recalled all the moments of my youth, watching you catch the bad guys and never forgetting your integrity. It was a reawakening for me.

With the events of 9/11, I looked again at my life. I decided my life was not as I had dreamed as a child, and decided to do something about it. This year, I entered the police academy. I am now in my 17th week of training, and could not be happier. It is quite a change for this 33-year-old husband and father of two. I just thought you should know that there are still fans out here, and we try to uphold the values and integrity that you instilled in us years ago.

Respectfully,

Joe

My name is Kerri. I saw you speak at a school I attended when I was younger (I am 33 years old now). I just wanted to tell you that you have a wonderful gift and I have never forgotten the day I sat and listened to you, and getting to talk to you afterward. I came from a bad childhood, and that day after I left from speaking with you, I felt like a huge load had been lifted - and I want to thank you! I am married and have two children of my own now, two boys ages 9 and 16. They are good boys And I have just purchased a video of yours, and am wanting to get all your stuff so I can share it with my kids. I hope my kids can hear you speak in person one day. You are truly inspirational. You are Heaven-sent!

May God bless you and your family always.

Kerri

I can't believe I found your web site and you are still active in your speaking. In 1985, you came to our school in California. I was 17 years old. You moved me so much, it's beyond belief. The message you sent drove home so much.

I remembered you over the years, and I thought frequently about the things you talked about. I remember the story about the little black boy and how he choked on a piece of charcoal. I remember the stories of the inmates you told - and so much more. I am so happy I found your site, and to see you are still speaking.

You are especially on my mind now that I have kids and we've entered that time when the drug talks need to be done. I have three kids - fifth grade, third grade and a little baby. I hope you can come to their school one day because you are an amazing, gifted man who moved me tremendously at such a young age, and your word has stayed with me to this day. Any child who hears your speeches has to benefit in some way. At least I know my kids will be. Any help we can get as parents in the war on drugs is greatly appreciated.

God bless you always, you are amazing,

Christine

My name is Dianna, and I was honored and fortunate enough to witness you and your amazing abilities as a motivational speaker several years ago. I first saw you when I was in seventh grade. Even though doing drugs was never an issue for me then, I felt compelled to go and hear what you had to say. I have only one word for what I witnessed: WOW! I was so touched and moved by what you said. After your presentation, I was able to visit with you briefly. From that day on, my life had new meaning. I never knew up to that point what it felt like to have someone say and show me that they loved me. You did, and you didn't even know me! I knew my parents loved me, but they never showed their affections, and that is truly the only thing I regret from my childhood.

Several years have passed since that day I graduated from high school in 1985. And to this day, I think back to that day when you so deeply touched my life. I now have a daughter who will soon be nine years old. She is very smart for her age, and I know she is aware of how bad drugs are, but I fear for her and her friends and classmates - that peer pressure and other influences may change her view on drug use.

You deeply touched my life, and for that, I will be eternally grateful. To this day, I practice something every day with my daughter that you taught me so many years ago. The last thing I saw to my daughter when she goes to bed, and the last thing I saw to her when I drop her off at school, is "I love you." You taught me that those words have a profound effect on a person's life, and it is OK to say them to someone.

Thank you for touching me life the way you did.

Love and God bless,

Dianna

My name is Carol and I have been a fan of yours for over 20 years. I went to one of your seminars back in the 1980s. I believe it was around 1983/84.Our school drove us to another town to hear you speak, and that evening a couple of us had our parents take us back because hearing you once was not enough. Your seminar was so incredible. It touched me in so many ways - the most interesting thing I listened to and learned from in all my high school years.

I have two teenage kids of my own now. What I have learned and remembered from you have I have been able to pass down to my kids to make them understand the importance of not using alcohol and drugs, and staying clear of violence. They really listen to what I teach them, thanks to what I learned from you. I am going to order some of your books and tapes for them to read and watch, because I think if they see your tape, they will understand why I was so touched by what you had to say and teach.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you so much for what you shared with us way back then. You helped me make a lot of decisions in my life that I may not have made if I hadn't been to your seminar. You are truly an inspiration to all.

Carol

My name is Jonathan and I wanted to write a quick note to you to say thank you. I saw you speak in 1985 in high school. Your words still ring deep in me 18 years later. Over the years I have come across many situations where I've dealt with being offered narcotics or dealt with people who had problems. I'm proud to say I've told them the tales that you shared and it helped them to clean up their acts.

I am 30 now and I have a family of my own. Your words will continue to stay with me and help me be able to deal with whatever issues my son may come across as he grows older. Thank you very much and continue to do great work.

Jonathan

I am in eighth grade. I'm e-mailing you to thank you. Your speech was one of the most incredible and educational things I have ever heard. After hearing your speech and some of the horrors that drugs cause, I am sure I will stay, as I am now, clean forever.

PJ

In 1988, you came to my high school. I just wanted to let you know after all these years, I remember one thing you said to us students. You told us to look around where we were seated, because one out of three teenagers would become infected with HIV. I remember honestly laughing at that thought, of course thinking it could never happen to me, let alone someone I knew.

It did happen to me.

I am HIV positive and have been for two years now. I am 32 with three children and a husband of 12 years. I didn't get infected the "old fashioned way" by sex. I got it from a blood transfusion I received in 2000 during a surgery. Luckily my children and my husband are not infected. I still hear your words of wisdom, and you made an impact on me that day when I was just 16. I wish I were still 16 knowing what I know now. I am passing on your same words to my children now. Continue to educate others because you got your point across to me.

Teresa

I would like to thank you for coming to my school today. I felt that the stories you shared with us from your life were very touching. I greatly appreciate what you do on a day-in, day-out basis trying to save today's youth from a world of drugs and death. Much of what you stated today made me think about what is happening to my peers, and it is disturbing to tell you that it is true. There are a lot of choices in this world, but when drugs are there you have absolutely NOTHING and hopefully you have helped some students realize how important and precious life is. You have changed the minds of teens and helped to deter them from trying or continuing the use of drugs. Thank you very much for coming and speaking to my fellow peers and myself. You are a wonderful man!

Thank you,

Lindsay

I was a student in high school about 23 years ago and was fortunate enough to have been able to see your lecture on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. It was extremely moving to me and I feel I am a stronger person today because of it. I still mention it to my co-workers.

I am now embarking on a career as a Police Officer and feel that your message is needed more than ever. I am interested to know if you are still doing the lecture tours and would like to refer our School Resource Officer to you. As it is too late for it to happen this year, I would like to see if at all possible something could be arranged maybe next school year. Drugs are, as you well know, now becoming more and more common and easier and cheaper to obtain and I feel no one can better get the message across then yourself. After all, I have remembered all that you have said and feel it has the same relevance today as it did then.

Matthew

Hello, my name is Alex. I am 16 years old, soon to be a junior in high school. I watched one of your videos in class a few months ago and I thought you would appreciate a compliment and I would like to say that I was touched. From just hearing you say all the horrible stuff and about the 3-year-old sister, I feel like I can never pick up a bottle again, and I haven't for months now. It's been great. I have been excelling in school and work as well.

Mr. Toma, because of you I got my life back on track. No more drinking or anything. I'm clean, and it feels great. Also this may sound stupid, but because of you, Mr. Toma, I am hoping to become a police officer just so I can make a difference in the world. I may not be able to help everyone but the few I will be able to help, that would be wonderful. When I watched your video, my friends joked about it, saying they don't need to hear this, but I said, "What if it was your sister? What if it was you?" Though we are all still friends, they are trying to quit just as I have. Thank you for your time. When I become a police officer (which I am really looking forward to) I will always remember your motivation.

Alex

Hi, David my name is John J. Mills. I am a struggling ex- drug user. I am 46 years old. I remember when I was a kid I would watch Baretta. I also sort of remember a movie about you, is that true? I started smoking marijuana at about 10 or 11 years old. Did my first hit of "acid" around 12 or 13 years old. I have been fighting my "demons" for about 35 years or so -.imagine just about all of my life - what a pity!

I was raised a Christian, but obviously walked away many too many times. After this last fall I have come back to the Lord. You see I was a functioning responsible addict--so I thought. I owned a business in the home remodeling and handyman services field for 20 years. Being a (functional addict) I would "at times" work for 12-16 hour days, smoke crack for hours, then sleep for just a couple of hours. Then I would pay a driver to take me to my job sites. Being a (functional-responsible), addict I would never drive! At the time I had many commercial accounts, Starbucks coffee shops, Pizza Huts, Arby's and even some Kent State University and University of Akron housing accounts, several Wal-Marts also. I bring this up because I HAD the "American Dream". I LOST IT ALL!!!! Houses, cars ,trucks, wife, step-son,all my tools, all of my commercial accounts and all of my residential accounts.

One day I got down on my knees and asked Jesus for forgiveness and to come back into my heart one more time, and you know what- HE DID!!! I now only own the clothes on my back, only a few pieces of furniture, no jewelry, no car or truck--just my dog and a cat and a place to live and Jesus in my heart and you know what? I am happier and more at piece than at any time in my life. So to all of the young people out there who think they have contol of their addictions. Beware the Devil will sneak up on you as a thief in the night and you will lose everything and maybe even your soul--it is not worth it! If I can see the light after 35 years of addiction and insanity that comes with it then you can too. May Jesus bless anyone who reads this. Also the article in the May issue of Charisma magazine spoke to me-thank you so much David

John J Mills