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Overcoming the odds: Ex-foster child credits faith for his success

POSTED: December 26, 2013 11:50 p.m.

Everyone will face a major problem in his or her life, Gainesville resident Tod Peavy said.

“It’s about not letting that define you — you have to choose,” he said.

Peavy entered the state child welfare system when he was in fourth grade.

From the sixth grade through the 12th grade, he lived in an abusive and neglectful foster home that he equated to “surviving in the woods.”

The couple, now banned from the system, he said, were emotionally abusive as well.

“‘Foster children aren’t wanted,’ they would tell me,” he said.

Despite enduring years of severe maltreatment, his Christian faith helped him hold on to his self-worth, he said.

“I prayed, if not several times a day, constantly sometimes,” he said. “But that faith never diminished.”

Twenty-five years removed from his tumultuous childhood, Peavy runs a successful business.

In that capacity, he is known as DJ Tod and plays for events around the state.

“Music was the one thing, in addition to my faith, and I lost myself in it,” he said.

He began as a disc jockey in college at West Georgia in Carrollton.

Peavy always enjoyed school — it was a “refuge” from home, he said.

“School was definitely a getaway,” he said. “I’d actually get sick riding home from school. A weird feeling would overcome me.”

School also allowed him a window to see a better life.

“I knew there was an end to this; there would never be a problem down the road,” he said of his school years. “I knew that this was not normal, that I had friends at school who have different homes.”

Of course, life isn’t perfect today, he said, but it is leaps and bounds from his past horrors.

Peavy devotes time to helping those who are facing major struggles, using his pilot’s license and small plane to serve those in need.

“When Katrina (2005 hurricane) hit, I had just gotten my pilot’s license. I did 11 or 12 flights,” he said.

He coordinated with other groups, lending supplies, and even transporting people, like police and nurses.

One of his most recent charitable ventures with his plane was flying a veteran to Charlotte, N.C., working with a group that connects veterans to medical services difficult to reach by car.

Although Peavy’s birth mother left his life at a young age, he credits her role in his development of faith as the “single most important thing” she did for him.

Faith, he said, is how he understands both taking and surrendering control.

“It’s a belief that there’s something better out there,” he said. “We can’t control our circumstances, but we have the ability to control what we do.”

He said keeping good company with similar values is another way he lives a well-adjusted life.

“It’s better to have close-knit friends you can call on,” he said.

In February, Peavy will begin talking to middle and high school students around the Southeast about overcoming, touching on topics like self-esteem and bullying.

“I’m using my 25 years as an entertainer, because I engage the crowd,” he said. “I make it engaging fun.”


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