Tony Victor Bunion, Jr. was born and raised in Havana, Florida. He spent his childhood attending Gadsden County schools and making friends with other local children. But the entirety of his childhood and youth was not all filled with pleasant memories and humorous accounts.
Similar to many young people who are living in low-income communities across the country, Bunion made life-choices that veered him into trouble.
It is that story of growing up, overcoming economic and societal struggles and moving on to achieve success in his life that Bunion has written in his new book, Breakin Cycles: The Power of My Testimony.
“There is an urgent need for books like Breakin Cycles. As an educator, I’ve sadly seen many young men and women fall into lives of crime, largely due to their home environment,” writes De’garryan Andrews in the Breakin Cycles: The Power of My Testimony introduction.
Andrews, an actor, Gadsden County native and former classmate of the author, goes on to address the difficulties that young black men have in rising up in the world – and why that makes Bunion an excellent candidate for inspiring younger generations.
“This book is about my life. It describes how God saved me from my own bad decisions as well as how he used me to break generational cycles in my family,” writes Bunion in his book’s preface.
Despite the power of his memoir, Bunion says he never planned to become a published author.
“Becoming a published author was not something I saw myself doing as a young man growing up in Havana,” says Bunion. “Therefore, me publishing a book can be considered a newly inspired endeavor.”
Bunion believed that his life experiences had given him the ability to relate to individuals in underprivileged communities, and he wanted to reach those people and share his message of overcoming the obstacles he had faced.
Throughout his life, Bunion struggled with hard-times and injustice, and he wanted to reach out to the next generation and prove that they could make decisions that brought them out of the environment they knew.
“I decided a book would be a great avenue to reach more people,” said Bunion.
The project of writing his memoir and testimony was not fully sparked until 2019, when Bunion and his wife, Whitney, welcomed their third child, Malia Dionne Bunion.
“Shortly after birth, Malia was diagnosed with a very rare genetic illness called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). After several surgeries and numerous hospital visits, my wife and I decided that in-home, full time care was best,” said Bunion.
In order to care for his daughter, Bunion took a medical leave from his job and stayed at Malia’s side; during his time at home, Bunion began the task of working on his book.
“When [Malia] passed away on the morning of September 26, 2019; I was broken and felt a pain I had never experienced before. So, I made a promise to myself that I would get this book finished to honor our sweet baby girl,” said Bunion.
Less than a year later, the book was published in July 2020.
“Breakin Cycles: The Power of my Testimony offers insight on how to break destructive generational curses through faith in Jesus Christ,” said Bunion, adding that his book is full of powerful lessons to motivate young people who are from underprivileged backgrounds.
“I am very transparent about my struggles, failures, accomplishments, hard times, and shows how God’s love was still shone through it all,” said Bunion. “Through faith anything is possible. God has a plan for all of our lives and only through Him, we will be able to overcome hardships and continue this marathon called life. I hope my book gives people motivation and encouragement to keep going and never give up!”
Aside from his new career as an author, Bunion is an educator, mentor and coach who currently teaches at a Jacksonville, Florida academy of the arts; he has lived in Jacksonville since 2012, but still considers Gadsden County his home.
Bunion credits his tight-knit community of loved ones as his support staff, especially his wife, Dr. Whitney G. Bunion for her role as his biggest fan. Additionally, he thanks his mother, in-laws, siblings, cousins, friends, colleagues, fraternity, church family and his home-town-supporters in Gadsden County.
Bunion attended Havana Northside High School during his ninth and tenth grade years, later graduating from East Gadsden High. After his graduation, Bunion attended Tallahassee Community College, graduating with an associate’s degree; later, he also attended Florida A&M University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in education.
He is the father of three children: Marcus, Maya and Malia.
Breakin Cycles: The Power of My Testimony can be purchased through multiple booksellers, including Walmart, Barnes and Noble and Amazon. The book is available through paperback and e-book editions.To follow Bunion’s journey, find him online at breakincycles.com or on social media platforms: Tony Victor Bunion, Jr. on Facebook and @Breakincycles539 on Instagram.