Trauma Survivors Share Their Stories At Weber High

Mar 1, 2019, 5:48 PM | Updated: Mar 4, 2019, 10:34 am

PLEASANT VIEW, Utah — Weber High School hosted a very special guest at their school assembly. Kechi Okwuchi, who was a finalist during the 2017 season of America’s Got Talent, sang in front of a group of lucky students.

She, along with several other trauma survivors this morning, also shared their stories in advance of a special conference tonight for fellow victims called “A Reason to Stand.”

When Okwuchi was only 16-years-old, she was in a horrific plane crash.

She recalls little from the accident, but remembers sitting with her friend seconds before the crash. “I was on the aisle seat and she was on the aisle seat next to me and I was holding her hand and that’s my last memory,” she remembered.

Okwuchi was one of only two survivors out of the 109 passengers on the plane.

The accident left more than 65 percent of her body with third degree burns. After being in a coma for weeks and a very slow recovery, Okwuchi realized her self-worth went deeper than skin.

She decided early on that her new scars wouldn’t dictate the rest of her life.

“If my scars and my outer appearance doesn’t define who I am, then I had to decide what did,” she explained.

Since then, Okwuchi set out to share her story with others recovering from traumatic experiences. She believes that is the reason she was saved.

Today she was joined by other women who also have their own traumatic stories — like Jennie Taylor, who lost her husband, Major Brent Taylor, in Afghanistan last fall.

“You can stand tall and you can stand proud,” Taylor said. “Even when you’re heartbroken and facing hardships and heartache, life can still be very beautiful. There is hope!”

Ashlee Birk Boyson is the founder of “A Reason to Stand. ”  It’s a non-profit designed to bring a community of trauma survivors together. Boyson has her own story, which she is sharing in detail tonight.

Her husband was murdered the same day she found out he was having an affair. She processed many emotions as she waited two years for a murder trial.

“Trying to function as a mom and as a human, but finding a lot of hate—hate for myself, hate for everyone involved in the story, including my husband who was dead,” said Boyson.

She was left with five young children and said she eventually had to figure out a way to stand.

“I had to start fighting for me. I had to start finding joy again which felt impossible,” she said.

Today she is remarried and sponsors bi-annual conferences for trauma survivors to share their stories and to find strength with one another.

She wants them to leave the conference with one message: “They can be brave enough to live a different story, but first you have to go back and heal from the pain of the past.”

Tonight Boyson’s non-profit is sponsoring a conference called “A Reason to Stand” at Weber High School in Pleasant View.

All three women, in addition to others, will be speaking at the event and sharing their experience of finding the motivation to stand during their darkest hours.

The event is open to the public and goes from 6 to 10 p.m. You can find tickets online or at the door for $25.

KSL 5 TV Live

Healthy Mind Matters

Mike Berg, former police chief of Parowan, has been in law enforcement for 16 years. He’s picture...

Ashley Moser, Aley Davis and Emiley Dewey

The Quiet Crisis: How first responders will help fill the trauma-informed therapy gap

Tens of thousands of first responders put their life and emotional wellbeing on the line every day in Utah. But who cares for them when their own mental wellbeing is on the line?

20 days ago

Jay Evans...

Ayanna Likens

LGBTQ+ Teens tend to suffer more from mental illness and suicide ideation, study shows

Teens across the United States are struggling more and more with mental illness and suicide ideation, especially LGBTQ+ teens.

25 days ago

FILE: Teen campers. (KSL TV)...

Ashley Moser

Supporting minority teens in Utah: Overcoming challenges and finding solutions

Being a teenager can be challenging enough but imagine facing those difficulties as a minority in a predominantly white community. A recent student risk assessment survey found Black and Hispanic students are more likely to feel unsafe at school.

25 days ago

(KSL TV)...

Shara Park

Teens in Crisis: The concerning increase in sadness, depression among teen girls

According to new data from the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, teen girls are facing higher levels of sadness and hopelessness than ever before. It's a trend concerning Utah doctors and many Utah families.

25 days ago


Aley Davis

Jordan School District prioritizing mental health for students and staff

In 2021, 3-in-5 teen girls said they felt persistently sad and hopeless, and more than 1-in-4 girls reported they seriously considered attempting suicide -- up significantly since 2011.

25 days ago


Aley Davis

Utah drops out of top 10 states for highest suicide rate, but experts remain concerned

For the first time in years, Utah is not in the top 10 states for the highest suicide rate. While some may be quick to applaud the improvement, Utah's suicide experts share why they remain concerned.

25 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Brunette guy in headphones playing games on his desktop computer...

PC Laptops

Looking For a New Computer? Use This Desktop Buying Guide

Choosing a new desktop computer can come with a lot of questions, so we created this desktop buying guide.

Portrait of happy boy playing and splashing water in the swimming pool...

Get Out Pass

Family Fun Activities in Utah You Have to Try This Summer

These family fun activities will entertain you all summer, so if you ever feel stuck in a rut wondering what to do, refer to this guide!

Woman IT specialist in elegant suit working on notebook computer in data center next to server rack...

Les Olson

Your Complete Guide to Outsourcing IT Services

This guide covers everything you need to know about the different benefits of outsourcing IT services to meet your small business needs.

diverse group of friends dance outside under string lights...

Lighting Design

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Lighting

Read for the most frequently asked questions about outdoor lighting to help narrow the search for your home.

Stack of old laptops with dark background...

PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...

BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.

Trauma Survivors Share Their Stories At Weber High