Joni Eareckson Tada
2012 Wilberforce Award Recipient
Photo used with permission of Joni and Friends
Joni Eareckson Tada has been a voice for the disabled for over 30 years. Her winsome, articulate, impassioned and reasoned defense of life, human dignity, and the rights of the disabled and those with special needs have markedly changed the destiny of hundreds of thousands within the disabled community worldwide, and affected the attitude and understanding of legislators, caregivers, the Church and the community towards the disabled.
A diving accident in 1967 left Joni, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, unable to use her hands. After two years of rehabilitation, she emerged with new skills and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations.
During her rehabilitation, Joni spent long months learning how to paint with a brush between her teeth. Her high-detail fine art paintings and prints are highly sought-after. Her best-selling autobiography “Joni” and the feature film of the same name have been translated into many languages, introducing her to people around the world. She also has visited more than 45 countries.
Joni and Friends International Disability Center was founded in 1979 as she and her friends responded to the many questions and needs pouring in from families affected by disability that had read Joni’s books or had seen the movie of her life. Today, Joni and Friends hosts retreats for families of the disabled, provides wheelchairs to the world, produces radio and television programs that highlight the needs and issues of the disabled and offers insight into suffering and encouragement from God’s Word, offers assistance to churches with disability ministries, and advocates on behalf of the disabled in the public policy arena.The William Wilberforce Award is presented each year by the Board of Directors of BreakPoint / the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview to an individual who vividly exemplifies the passions and principles demonstrated by William Wilberforce, including the following:
making a significant impact on the social ills of the day through personal effort, skill, and influence;