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Our History

Joni and Friends has been serving individuals and families affected by disability for 40 years.

1960s

Joni after her diving accident

1967

Seventeen-year-old Joni Eareckson Tada takes the dive that left her a quadriplegic, dramatically changing her life.

1970s

1974

Joni's appearance on The Today Show opens the door to national exposure.

1976

The Joni book is released and becomes a #1 international best-seller. Joni's autobiography is eventually translated into more than 38 languages resulting in over 5 million copies in print.

1979

The Joni movie is released. As it is shown around the world, more than 250,000 people are introduced to the Gospel and place their hope in Christ.

1979

Joni and Friends ministry is established to address the needs of families affected by disability. Joni and a small but dedicated staff begin the work from a two-room office in California.

1980s

1982

Joni begins recording the inspirational Joni and Friends radio program, providing encouragement, biblical insights, and disability awareness.

1986

Joni and Friends holds disability workshops at Amsterdam '86 where more than 8,000 evangelists are exposed to the idea of disability ministry.

1988

President Ronald Reagan appoints Joni to the National Council on Disability. Joni advocates for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

1989

Joni speaks to over 100,000 at the Billy Graham Crusade in Budapest, Hungary - Billy Graham Evangelical Association (BGEA) underwrites the transport of hundreds of people with disabilities to the Crusade.

1990s

1990

Joni attends the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the White House.

1990

Joni and Friends hosts more than 110 disability ministry leaders from 44 countries at Joni and Friends' International congress of the Church and Disability held on the campus of Calvin College.

1991

After attending a "Family Conference" sponsored by the federal government and National Council on Disability, Joni challenges the ministry to provide a retreat for families affected by disability. The first Family Retreat was held in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

1994

Wheels for the World is founded to share the Gospel and provide mobility to people affected by disability in developing countries. The first wheelchair is provided in Ghana, West Africa.

1997

The Joni and Friends International Disability Center opens its doors in Agoura Hills, California.

2000s

2000

Joni and Ken travel to china to begin opening doors for Wheels for the World. She then travels to Australia to serve as chaplain for the 2000 Paralympic Games.

2001

As Joni campaigns against euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research, groundwork is laid for the Christian Institute on Disability.

2006

Joni is appointed to the Disability Advisory Committee at the U.S. State Department. Joni and Friends holds its first International Family Retreat in Ukraine.

2007

In January, the Joni and Friends International Disability Center
opens its doors, ushering in a new era of international outreach
to families impacted by disability and daily prayers for you!

2010s

2010

In a Wheels for the World Restoration shop in a U.S. prison, the inmates restore donated used wheelchairs to like-new condition. Thousands of prisoners' lives have been impacted by Joni and Friends through the wheelchair restoration process.

2014

Wheels for the World delivers the 100,000th in Ghana.

2016

The Beyond Suffering Bible is released.

2017

Joni celebrates 50 years of God's faithfulness to her in her wheelchair.

2019

Celebrating 40 years of your faithfulness and ministry! Thank you for joining us to reach the next generation with the love of Jesus for many years to come!