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March 21, 2023

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Refusing to be a Victim: Cindi Broaddus

She had already endured the deaths of her parents in a four-year span, a failed marriage, and the challenge of raising her three daughters as a single parent, but apparently all that hardship for Cindi Broaddus was preparation for the harrowing night of June 5, 2001.

While riding in the passenger seat with a companion in the middle of the night on a trip from Newcastle, Oklahoma, to San Diego, Broaddus suddenly found herself covered in deadly sulfuric acid after an assailant flung a gallon of it off a bridge and through the windshield of the car. The only thing that stood between Broaddus and death turned out to be her choice of footwear that day. She had worn sneakers instead of sandals, protecting her feet enough from the burning acid for the doctors to administer the morphine shots to alleviate the excruciating pain.

After numerous surgeries and reconstructive procedures, Broaddus thought about her three grown daughters and realized she had two options: “Either I am going to be a survivor who feels sorry for myself, or I am going to go out and try to make the world a better place,” she says. She also found a way to look at the lessons of personal growth and discovery brought on by this catastrophic event, despite the fact that the perpetrator was never caught. “Had this not happened to me, I probably would never have gone outside of my comfort zone,” she says.

After transitioning from an at-home mother to an advertising salesperson with a local cable station to put her daughters through school, Broaddus found a new calling following her near-death ordeal. She wrote A Random Act, which features the lessons she learned from that night, and still finds time to go on the public-speaking circuit. Helping her spread her message along the way has been her brother-in-law, Dr. Phil McGraw, who featured her on his show in 2002 and 2005.

Broaddus has also experienced a small taste of politics, teaming up with a state senator in Oklahoma to push through legislation that became the Cindi Broaddus Act, which makes it a felony to throw anything from a bridge or overpass in their state. Years of skin grafts after that nightmarish evening, Broaddus refuses to dwell on why it happened to her. Triumphantly, she is not consumed with hatred for the person who committed the heinous act. “Forgiveness is a gift that we give ourselves,” says this eternal optimist. “I didn’t want to be bitter, and I didn’t want my children and grandkids to bear that burden.”

“Being a victim gets you nowhere,” says Broaddus. “Make every day count. We are all here on the earth for some reason.”