Joni Eareckson Tada, the Founder and CEO 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. Joni has also visited more than 47 countries, several many times.
Joni has served on the National Council on Disability and on the Disability Advisory Committee to the U.S. State Department. She has served as 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. Joni Tada currently serves on the Young Life Capernaum Board.
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.
Joni has written over 50 books and is a regular columnist in several magazines. 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.
Beginning in 1982, she began hosting “Joni and Friends,” a daily five-minute radio program of information and inspiration. Four minutes in length, the program airs on more than 1,000 outlets and reaches one million listeners a week. Her one-minute inspirational program, “Diamonds in the Dust,” also airs daily on more than 800 stations nationwide. In May 2017, the “Joni and Friends” radio program celebrated 35 years of broadcasting. In 2012, The Colson Center on Christian Worldview awarded Joni its prestigious William Wilberforce Award. In 2017, Biola University conferred upon Joni its highly acclaimed Charles W. Colson Courage & Conviction Award.
Joni and her husband, Ken Tada, have been married since 1982 and enjoy serving the Joni and Friends ministry together. On July 30, 2017 Joni will celebrate 50 years of living well in her wheelchair, a remarkable testimony to God’s sustaining grace.