A STORY OF OVERCOMING TRAUMA AND ABUSE
God has done amazing things in my life and I would love to tell you about them. My journey has been full of challenges and triumphs, heartache and joy. But the one constant is my story has been the faithfulness of God. Let me tell you through this book how He brought me out of victimhood into victory.
Phillis was born and raised in Pekin, IL. She was married for 27 years to Tony Dewitt and together they had three children of their own and fostered over 100 children and took permanent legal guardianship of 10 of them. They received many awards for their work with children including the State of Illinois Family of the Year. With nine children at home, she felt she needed to go to college. She graduated with her associate degree in nursing in 1992 from Illinois Central College, and later went on to get her Bachelor’s degree. In 2006 Tony passed away after a 12-year battle with cancer and 12 days after his death she started her Master’s degree while being a single mom and working. It was while working on her Master’s degree, that she started traveling on medical mission trips and continued those trips while earning her Master’s degree as an advanced practice nurse, her Doctorate degree in nursing, and a post Doctorate as a family nurse practitioner.
She remarried in 2010 to Craig Nelson. She continued her work with international missions and they started traveling together to these underdeveloped often remote areas of the world. Phillis has completed over 30 international medical mission trips and continues to do work to help provide medical care to families and to help rescue abused and neglected children all over the world. They have three mission trips scheduled in the next six months. She continues to teach graduate school at four universities and sees patients at a clinic in Florida where they live six months out of the year. They enjoy spending time with their grandchildren, traveling extensively, and going on mission trips with their church. She continues to be inspired by her son, Brandon Dewitt, who recently passed away after an eight-year battle with cancer. He had such a desire to make the world a better place to live and accomplished so many amazing goals in his lifetime.
Phillis Dewitt once remarked to a friend (co-author Mary Alesandrini) that she had done almost everything on her “bucket list” except write her life’s story. Her friend (Mary) replied, “I’ll do it with you. I already know the title of the book!” The result is this publication, which is comprised of many, many hours of shared memories, research, interviews, late night conversations, prayer, encouragement from husbands and friends, and lots of love. Because this is, indeed, a labor of love.
2018 OSF Legacy Award for Work in the Community and the Organization
2018 OSF College of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award - Practitioner
2016 CIPROUD WEEK Hero of the week
2015 2015 ICCTA Distinguished Alumnus Award for the State of IL
2013 Named WEEK 25 women in leadership award for Peoria Area
2013 Illinois Central College Alumni of the Year and Commencement Speaker
2000 Peoria Illinois Family of the Year (Peoria Counseling & Family Services)
1991 State of Illinois Family of the Year: IL Homemaker Extension Federation
1990 Tazewell County Family of the Year: Homemakers Extension Association
1990 National Award from U.S. Dept. of Justice for work with victims of sexual
abuse and domestic violence