Joni Eareckson Tada
Author, Radio Host, Founder of Joni and Friends
On July 30, 1967, Joni dove into the Chesapeake Bay after misjudging the shallowness of the water. She suffered a fracture between the fourth and fifth cervical levels and became a quadriplegic (or tetraplegic), paralyzed from the shoulders down.
During her two years of rehabilitation, according to her autobiography Joni, she experienced anger, depression, suicidal thoughts, and religious doubts. However, during occupational therapy, Tada learned to paint with a brush between her teeth, and began selling her artwork. She also writes this way, although for most writing tasks she relies on voice recognition software. To date, she has written over forty books, recorded several musical albums, starred in an autobiographical movie of her life, and is an advocate for people with disabilities. She married Ken Tada in 1982. Ken and Joni live in Calabasas, California.
If you would like to know Joni better here is a link to the TEDtalk: https://www.thrivingwithparalysis.com/inspiration/
Tada founded Joni and Friends in 1979, an organization to “accelerate Christian ministry in the disability community” throughout the world. In 2007 the Joni and Friends International Disability Center in Agoura Hills, California, was established.
The Joni and Friends International Disability Center runs a multi-faceted non-profit covering a number of program outlets. The longest running program is “Joni and Friends Radio”, a five-minute radio program begun in 1982. It now runs four minutes in length and can be heard each weekday on over 1,000 broadcast outlets. Tada also records a one-minute radio broadcast “Diamonds in the Dust” that airs daily. Both programs have received awards: “Joni and Friends Radio” received the “Radio Program of the Year” award from National Religious Broadcasters in 2002 and “Diamonds in the Dust” won the same award in 2010 in the short program category.
Other Joni and Friends programs include Family Retreats (a camp/retreat experience for families affected by disability), Wounded Warrior Getaways (which offer a similar experience for families of Wounded Warriors), and Wheels for the World (collects manual wheelchairs and other mobility devices which are refurbished by volunteers in prison restoration shops then shipped overseas where the wheelchairs are fitted by physical therapists to people in developing nations).
Joni and Friends also has produced 51 episodes of Joni and Friends TV, overseen the formation of the Christian Institute on Disability (a training and advocacy arm of Joni and Friends), among other ventures. In 2005, Tada was appointed to the Disability Advisory Committee of the U.S. State Department.
Tada is a conference speaker. Her articles have been published in Christianity Today, Today’s Christian Woman, The War Cry (Salvation Army), and newspapers around the world. Tada has appeared four times on Larry King Live. Find more information at https://www.joniandfriends.org/.