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Due to a diving accident in 1967, Joni became a quadriplegic. Her life is a wonderful example of faith and perseverance through difficult times. Though she suffered a deep depression and lost the will to live in the aftermath of her accident, she gradually came back to a deeper relationship with God. Through her personal struggles, Joni developed a ministry reaching out to others who were hurting.

Joni Eareckson Tada was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1950 to John and Lindy Eareckson. She was the youngest of four sisters, Linda, Jay, and Kathy. Her childhood was an extremely happy one. She grew into a young adult surrounded by love, happiness, and security in her parent’s home. The Eareckson family shared a great love for the outdoors, which promoted family togetherness. They shared in various outdoor activities such as camping trips, horseback riding, hiking, tennis, and swimming.

In 1967, after graduating from high school, Joni had her fateful accident. It was a hot July day and she was to meet her sister Kathy and some friends at the beach on Chesapeake Bay to swim. When she arrived, she dove in quickly, and immediately knew something was wrong. She could not move. Joni was rescued by her sister Kathy and brought by ambulance to the local hospital where she remained for several months.

Joni’s life was changed forever that July day in 1967. She had broken her neck - a fracture between the fourth and fifth cervical levels. She was now a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down. While her friends were busy preparing to go to college in the fall, Joni was fighting for her very life and having to accept the fact that she would have to live out the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

Joni’s rehabilitation was not easy. As you might imagine she was angry and she raged against her fate. She struggled with depression and often times she wanted to end her life. She could not understand how God could let this happen to her. Before the accident she had felt that she wasn’t living the life she should be so she had prayed that God would change her life - that he’d turn it around. After months of staring at the ceiling and wallowing in her depression, Joni began to wonder if this was God’s answer to
her prayer.

After her faith in God was rekindled, Joni began sharing her experience publicly and soon became a popular devotional speaker. In addition to having a speaking ministry, she became a successful commercial artist, learning how to draw and paint using her mouth, a bestselling author and an actress, starring in the film version of her own life story.

Joni also has founded a ministry “Joni and Friends” that reaches out to people who are disabled and suffering and to those who care for them. She can be heard daily on the Christian Radio across the country.