She proved them wrong, three times over.
Born with a rare type of congenital myopathy, Tira is now mom to three healthy children: 5-year-old Tacari, 10-year-old Jaiden and 14-year-old Nylah.
“I motivated myself and put this thought in my head that every day that I walk and I see my kids and I can be there — standing up in those bleachers or standing up when they run to me because they did a good job — is a great day for me,” she says.
For her, living unlimited means never letting others define what you can or cannot do.
Tira was born with congenital fibrotype disproportion syndrome, a type of muscular dystrophy which makes it difficult for her to walk and be physically active. One of four siblings, her little sister was also born with the syndrome.
“As a child, it was so hard to accept the way that I was, because my mind was so — ‘I can do this.’ I can play basketball, or I can wrestle with the other kids, but my body wouldn’t allow me to do it,” Tira says. “So, as a young kid, I was just like, maybe my mind is too fast for my body. I loved basketball and I was determined to play, but eventually I wasn’t able to keep up with the other kids.”
Unfortunately, the other kids often bullied Tira. But she credits that experience with the strength that she has today.
“It was really bad, but I think that pushed me — the determination of, ‘I’m not going to be who you think I am.’ Just because I’m different from you, you’re not going to make me feel like something is wrong with me,” she says, explaining that she was always determined to do whatever she wanted to do, no matter what. “So, I guess I just had to fight. I guess that’s why I don’t care about people’s opinions.”
Fueled by that attitude, Tira has lived unlimited in numerous ways.
She was in her high school and college marching band as a member of the flag corps, a dream she’d had since she was a little girl.
“When I watched the band, I came alive. I loved the colors. I loved the noise. I loved the music and I loved how they did it, twirled and made it so beautiful,” she says. “I told my daddy — I was about 8 or 9 years old — and I said, ‘Daddy, I’m going to be on that field.’ He said, ‘I know, Tira. You can do it.’”
And she did.
Tira also dreamed of being a model, and she did that too. She even walked on a cat walk.
“I got to model a few times locally on the runway,” she says. “By the time I was finished on that runway, I would hurry up and get to a couch, because my ankle was about to give out. It took so much strength for me to walk that runway, but I did it.”
But she’s most proud of her role as a mom. She loves to cook for her kids, especially their favorite meal: marinated salmon with honey, butter and garlic. She loves to take care of them and support them.
“I want to show my kids that I live with this every day. I push myself every day. But you are normal, you can do these things that I wish that I could have done. I’m going to back you 24/7,” she says. “Whatever it is that you want to do, I’m going to be there.”
Like Tira has always been there for her kids, MDA has been there for Tira, always ready to help.
MDA helped Tira learn more about her disease and about herself, she says. When she was younger, Tira received checkups at an MDA care center, but the highlight of her time with MDA was attending the summer camp in Columbus, Georgia.
“I got to just be me and not pretend to be this other person, who I would show other people in every day life,” she says. “When I was there, I was seeing people who were just like me. I got to know people who were like me, who understood that some days it’s hard to get up, some days I’m tired of fighting.”
Despite the toll that muscular dystrophy takes on Tira, from modeling to marching band to motherhood, she never stops chasing her dreams.
What’s her next goal? Tira wants to be a motivational speaker. She wants to help others live unlimited, especially kids.
What would she tell them?
“Don’t give up. Continue to fight. I know every day is hard. I know every day you want to wake up and say, ‘You know what, not today,’” she says. “But that one time that you wake up and say, ‘today’s not the day,’ could be your day. That day could be the day that you could change somebody else’s life.”