Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

February 12, 2013

Accident victim says she became inspirational speaker after revived by the power of prayer

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Devastating, life-altering brain injuries, a six week coma – and, she contends, the power of prayer –  transformed Patti Foster from a popular Christian radio deejay into a powerful inspirational speaker with an amazing story to share.

Foster now travels nationwide, speaking to church and corporate organizations. She chronicled her traumatic brain injuries, which placed her life in the balance, in the book she authored, "Coping With Traumatic Brain Injury: One Woman's Journey from Death to Life."

Foster, now 45, was on her way to Tyler with a couple of friends for a Bible study on June 18, 2002. A semi pulling a trailer full of cars at 70 mph slammed into the back of the SUV in which she was traveling. She was ejected from the vehicle and tossed violently to the ground in the accident, which also killed a friend of hers, a Jacksonville High School graduate.

As she lay unconscious on the ground, an EMT could find no pulse and pulled a sheet over her presuming her to be dead. But about that time a group of passersby had joined hands and started to pray over her.

Soon Foster was discovered to still be alive — although in a coma.

Finally regaining consciousness, she faced the challenge of having to relearn how to walk, how to talk, even how to do her ABC's. The specialists at the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas treated and cared for her with what she describes as a mixture of warmth, care, and support.

And the prayers for her continued recovery never stopped and they never failed to make her better, either, she said.

Her mission now in life is to share stories of her experience with others – particularly brain injury survivors.

Ultimately? The former radio personality in Texas, Louisiana, Indiana and Michigan has learned to meet life head on, with a positive attitude. In her own words, she takes risks, tries hard, and learns from her mistakes.

"In the midst of a crazy world, it’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day routine of our lives," she said in an issued statement. "My response? Throwing my head back and laughing from the tip of my toes to the top of my head – it’s the best medicine ever. Want some?"

Her message has been heard far and wide. In 2007, the 700 Club aired a December special on CBS Channel 19-Tyler about Foster's experience.

Foster contends the experience provided her with "an enhanced capacity to relate the intensive love she feels toward others and the joy she takes in helping influence the lives of others toward the positive."

She attributes much of her success in this regard to the help of an extremely-supportive family who always encouraged her to take risks, to try hard and learn from mistakes.

"As a  college student majoring in music education,  she traveled with a fine arts team to Australia, toured with the university choir to the British Isles and spent a week in the heart of Mexico with a mission group," according to Foster's biography. "Performances with the Fort Worth Chamber Orchestra and the Sam Houston State University Orchestra further broadened her scope of music and expression.

She graduated from Sam Houston State University in 1989, and shortly after, traveled abroad to Eastern Europe providing music for crusades and teaching conversational English through music."

Since 1990, her focus had been radio prior to the accident. She was the morning show host at WFRN, an inspirational Christian radio station in South Bend/Elkhart, Indiana. Before that, she fulfilled a variety of positions for KVNE, a non-commercial Christian music station in Tyler.

Now, she's looking to use all that experience to connect with all the people who prayed for her and her family throughout her ordeal.

Foster also was featured in a collection of firsthand stores of personal, modern-day miracles published by Destiny Image Publishers.

Meanwhile, she describes her book a much-needed dose of Vitamin B-12 – "strength to the heart!”

She recently met with the Texas Department of Public Safety sergeant who worked the wreck scene that placed her in a coma. Some of his quotes are in Chapter 10 of her book.

Her public appearances in regard to her book have met with much success.

"We recently had Patti Foster as a speaker with our Mom’s Touch group that I lead at Church," Meredith McCoy, minister to preschool at North Richland Hills Baptist Church, said in a review. "Her testimony and topic was perfect for our moms and just what they needed to hear! We went from laughing to shedding tears and I know she spoke to the hearts of the women."

East Texans feel much the same way. LaNell Waters and Lacie Sloan of Palestine's Lone Pine Baptist Church issued a statement describing Foster as "amazing, Godly, strong and fun loving."

"Patti’s story is one that everyone, young, old, male and female, needs to hear," Waters' and Sloan's statement said. "When she speaks of her journey through agonizing months and years of recovery from the very tragic accident, she shares life lessons that we all need to apply to our lives. You will laugh, shed a few tears, and come from your time with Patti so much richer than before. Patti has a zest for life that is contagious!"