JONI EARECKSON TADA
Joni Eareckson Tada, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, is an international advocate for people with disabilities. A diving accident in 1967 left Joni Eareckson, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, without the use of 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 sought-after and collected.
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.
Mrs. Tada has also has visited more than 47 countries, several many times. Mrs. Tada has served on the National Council on Disability and the Disability Advisory Committee to the U.S. State Department. She is Senior Associate for Disability Concerns for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and serves in an advisory capacity to the American Leprosy Mission, the National Institute on Learning Disabilities, Christian Blind Mission International, as well as on the Board of Reference for the Christian Medical and Dental Society.
After being the first woman honored by the National Association of Evangelicals as its “Layperson of the Year” in 1986, Joni was named “Churchwoman of the Year” in 1993 by the Religious Heritage Foundation.
She has received numerous other awards and honors, including the American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award; The Courage Award from the Courage Rehabilitation Center; The Award of Excellence from the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center; The Victory Award from the National Rehabilitation Hospital; and The Golden Word Award from the International Bible Society.
Joni has been awarded several honorary degrees, including: Bachelor of Letters from Western Maryland College; Doctor of Humanities from Gordon College; Doctor of Humane Letters from Columbia International University, the first bestowed in its 75-year history; Doctor of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary; Doctor of Divinity from Lancaster Bible College; a Doctor of Humanitarian Services from California Baptist University; and in 2009, a Doctor of Humane Letters by Indiana Wesleyan University. She was also inducted into Indiana Wesleyan University’s “Society of World Changers.”
Joni has written over 50 books and numerous magazine articles. She was inducted into the Christian Booksellers’ Association’s Hall of Honor in 1995 and received the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
Joni’s works cover topics ranging from disability outreach to understanding the goodness of God and the problem of suffering. Her books include: “A Christmas Longing,” depicting her best-loved Christmas paintings, and “Life and Death Dilemma,” addressing the tough issues of physician-assisted suicide. The mystery of suffering is systematically examined in “When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty,” a book written with Steve Estes in 1997 which won the Gold Medallion Award.
In 2003, Joni wrote her memoir “The God I Love,” chronicling a lifetime walking with Jesus. In 2011, “A Place of Healing” was released, recounting her journey through physical pain and questions concerning prayer for healing. After battling stage 3 breast cancer in 2010, Joni wrote “Diagnosed with Breast Cancer: Life after Shock” released in the fall of 2012. Joni and her husband recently completed “Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story” scheduled for release in April 2013.
Beginning in 1982, she began hosting “Joni and Friends,” a daily five-minute radio program of information and inspiration. Now four minutes in length, the program airs on more than 1,000 outlets and reaches 1 million listeners a week. A one-minute inspirational program, “Diamonds in the Dust,” also airs daily on more than 800 stations nationwide. In May 2012 the "Joni and Friends" radio program celebrated 30 years of broadcasting.
Joni is host of a 30-minute television series called “Joni and Friends” which highlights the stories of people enduring difficult trials while continuing to trust in God. In 2012, the TV episode “Cancer – Joni’s Journey” was released, detailing her battle against stage 3 breast cancer, including surgery and chemotherapy.
In 2002, Joni received the William Ward Ayer Award for excellence from the National Religious Broadcasters’ Association. In 2012, the National Religious Broadcasters inducted Joni Eareckson Tada into its “Hall of Fame.” In 2012 The Colson Center on Christian Worldview awarded Joni its prestigious “William Wilberforce Award.”
She has been interviewed or featured on TV shows such as “Larry King Live” and “ABC World News Tonight,” in print outlets such as Christianity Today, World Magazine, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times and on radio shows such as “Focus on the Family” and “FamilyTalk with Dr. James Dobson.”
Joni and her husband, Ken Tada, have been married since 1982.