Joni Eareckson Tada is an evangelical Christian author, radio host, and founder of Joni and Friends, an organization "accelerating Christian ministry in the disability community."
Tada was born in 1949 in Baltimore, Maryland, the youngest of four daughters.
As a teenager, Tada enjoyed riding horses, hiking, tennis, and swimming. On July 30, 1967, she dove into Chesapeake Bay after misjudging the shallowness of the water. She suffered a fracture between the fourth and fifth cervical levels and became a quadriplegic, paralysed from the shoulders down.
During her two years of rehabilitation, according to her autobiography, she experienced anger, depression, suicidal thoughts, and religious doubts. However, Tada learned to paint with a brush between her teeth, and began selling her artwork. 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 disabled people.
Tada wrote of her experiences in her 1976 international best-selling autobiography, Joni, The unforgettable story of a young woman's struggle against quadriplegia & depression, which has been distributed in many languages. The book was made into a 1979 feature film of the same name, starring herself. Her second book, A Step Further, was released in 1978.
She married Ken Tada in 1982. In 2010, she announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She emerged successfully from cancer surgery and is hopeful of a positive prognosis.
Tada founded Joni and Friends (JAF) in 1979, an organization for Christian ministry in the disabled community throughout the world. In 2006 the Joni and Friends International Disability Centre in Agoura California was established.
Led by Tada and Doug Mazza, the Joni and Friends International Disability Center has four programs. Joni and Friends, a daily five minute radio program, heard in over 1,000 broadcast outlets. In 2002 it received the “Radio Program of the Year” award from National Religious Broadcasters. The Wounded Warrior program offers family retreats. Wheels for the World collects wheelchairs, which are refurbished by prison inmates and donated to people in developing nations where, physical therapists fit each chair to a needy disabled child or adult.
"Wheels for the World provides a free wheelchair, along with the Gospel of Jesus Christ to children and adults affected by disability worldwide. Visit www.joniandfriends.org/wheels-for-the-wo