Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Getting to Know Series: Tonya Hidalgo

You know what’s contributors and moderators think about COPD – but there’s more to everyone than COPD! So we’re doing a “Getting to Know…” series to introduce you to the people behind the names. We’re sharing information in a variety of formats, but the goal is always the same – to help you get to know us a little better. (And of course, you can always find our basic info on our Meet the Experts and Editorial Team pages.)

Featured in today’s “Getting to Know…” series is Tonya Hidalgo!

Tonya is a contributor and moderator from North Carolina, who joined the team as a former caregiver to her mom, who had COPD. She wrote a book about traveling with COPD, as well as her own personal blog. We feel so lucky to have Tonya as part of the team!


What are some places you’ve called home? Although I have traveled extensively, I have called the Charlotte, NC surrounding area (both NC and SC) home for all but two years of my life. During those two years, I lived in Orlando, FL while going to school and working for Disney World! Yep, Disney Freak right here.

What’s your favorite quote? “I’m gonna live ’til I die.” – Brenda Cross (mom) She would sometimes say this when asked how she was doing. It is a simple statement, but it is a loaded statement.

Favorite TV show? Currently, it’s The Arrow. Waiting for the next season has been painful, but I’ll survive. My favorite TV show of all time is Alias.

Favorite food? Everything that I really should not have. Mostly chocolate chip cookies, the homemade kind. Let me be more specific. Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, modified with Splenda so that I can eat more.

Favorite movie? Ugh… Why do I have to choose just one? The Sound of Music. It stands the test of time, and now my kids love it too. Score!

Favorite Book? This Present Darkness. It is an older book, but it made an impact on me when I was much younger. I still think about it often and wonder about the unseen around me. That’s all I will say. You just need to read it.

Favorite music? That’s an easy one! Hillsong United.

Trait you value most (in yourself and others): Integrity, even when it is uncomfortable.

What was your first job (ever)? Wilson Auto Parts. My uncles owned the local auto parts store. This was back before the major chains moved into the small town where I grew up. I know just enough about cars to get me in trouble, but I can count money back without a calculator. Our cash register was a crank machine, so I was taught how to count money back from the total to the bill I was given. This is a lost art now.

Other roles/positions held in addition to being part of Outside of, I work in television. I have been in the media industry for over 20 years.

What is your role at – and what does that mean/what do you do? I am a contributor and moderator. As a contributor, I write articles for, and as a moderator, I answer comments on Facebook and the website.

What is your favorite thing about being a patient advocate? My favorite thing about being a patient advocate is that I have the chance to encourage others in this journey. Although some of my articles are very real, in terms of what I have experienced and how to deal with things, it is my hope that you are encouraged as caregivers and patients to make the most of every day.

How did you get started doing the kind of work you do that brought you to In the Fall of 2014, my mom and I decided that I should write a short e-book to encourage others to get out and travel. As I started writing that book, I began The COPD Life website and began blogging. Shortly after the book was written, mom began a series of stays in the hospital, and during her fifth stay in less than three months, she completed her journey with COPD and moved home to heaven. Later that year, the amazing team at reached out to me to begin writing for the site.

What is your most proud moment as a caregiver? It is hard to pinpoint a moment, especially from the other side of the fight. I am incredibly proud that my mom fought through her fears to go with me to Hawaii. She was so scared of getting sick, but she did it. It was a bucket list type of trip for her, and we made it happen. I am also extremely proud of how she kept fighting, day to day. There were so many times that she could have given up, but she didn’t. She fought to live. She never quit.

What’s a typical day like for you? My typical day is not typical. HA! My work schedule depends on the sports season. Some days I work at my television job for ESPN. The hours are determined by the sport we cover and the area of the country where the game is played. I also homeschool, so most days we get that going early, just so we can keep the kids on a schedule. During the in between, I write and moderate. When I have a few hours of down time, I am exhausted. I’m thankful for such a wonderful team at that really care for all of us: contributors, moderators and the entire community!

What is a favorite hobby/activity of yours? I have kids. That’s it. LOL!

What is your favorite thing to do as part of your role at I love to encourage people.

Who’s a person that makes you smile? Are you going to show them this article? My husband and my children make me smile. I look at our kids and sometimes wonder how I could be so incredibly blessed.

If you could ask the community members a question, what would it be?
Is there anything that you specifically would like to know from me? I have seen the entire COPD journey. Is there something that you have been curious about that I can share? Remember that sometimes the stories you may be curious about don’t have happy endings, but there is still much to learn from them.

Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter? Both! Here’s my Facebook profile and here’s my Twitter profile. and

We’d like to thank Tonya for all her work at! To see the team in action, register to become a member of the site – it’s free, and you’re welcome here any time!