Faithful Heroes: Joni Erickson Tada

Recently, Joni posted about some of her health struggles and even during this difficult time her faith and optimism were shining forth.

Joni painting

Joni Eareckson was born on October 15, 1949 in Baltimore, Maryland. She was the youngest of four girls born to John Eareckson {for whom she was named} and his wife Lindy.

Joni followed her parents example and led an active life while growing up riding horses, hiking, playing tennis and swimming.

On July 30, 1967, Joni dove into the Chesapeake Bay, having misjudged the shallowness of the water. Her injuries led her to become paralyzed from the shoulders down.

Joni wrote in her autobiography, Joni, of the anger, depression, religious doubts and suicidal thoughts which plagued her during her two years of rehabilitation.

Joni and her husband, Ken

During her occupational therapy, she learned to paint with a brush between her teeth and began to sell her artwork.

In 1976, she wrote her autobiography and in 1979 a feature film was made of her story.

Her second book, A Step Further, was written in 1978 and she has now written over 40 books.

In 1979, she founded Joni and Friends, which is an organization to “accelerate Christian ministry in the disability community” throughout the world.

Joni married Ken Tada in 1982.

In 1982, her radio broadcast program “Joni and Friends Radio” began. Each segment runs about four minutes. She also has a second radio broadcast “Diamonds in the Dust” which is a one-minute program. Both programs have woman awards.

Joni and Friends has numerous other programs including Family Retreats, Wheels for the World, and Wounded Warrior Getaways.

Joni is a popular conference speaker and has written articles for numerous publications. She had a TV program Joni and Friends TV which ran for 51 episodes.

Joni also serves or has served on various committees including the U.S. State Department Disability Advisory Committee and the National Council on Disability, which authored the Americans with Disabilities Act. She has served as adviser for many other organizations.

Joni is also a singer and has published over a dozen albums. She sung the title song in the 2013 film Alone, Yet Not Alone.

Joni has received numerous awards and honorary degrees for her work and campaigns for the disabled.

In 2007, the Joni and Friends International Disability Center was established in Agoura Hills, California.

In 2010, Joni was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer and after successful treatment she was declared cancer free in 2015. In 2018, she had a malignant nodule removed.

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