Joni Eareckson Tada
2012 Wilberforce Award Recipient
Photo used with permission of Joni and Friends
Joni Eareckson Tada has been a voice for the disabled for over 30 years. Her winsome, articulate, impassioned and reasoned defense of life, human dignity, and the rights of the disabled and those with special needs have markedly changed the destiny of hundreds of thousands within the disabled community worldwide, and affected the attitude and understanding of legislators, caregivers, the Church and the community towards the disabled.
A diving accident in 1967 left Joni, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, unable to use 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 highly sought-after. 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. She also has visited more than 45 countries.
Joni and Friends International Disability Center was founded in 1979 as she and her friends responded to the many questions and needs pouring in from families affected by disability that had read Joni’s books or had seen the movie of her life. Today, Joni and Friends hosts retreats for families of the disabled, provides wheelchairs to the world, produces radio and television programs that highlight the needs and issues of the disabled and offers insight into suffering and encouragement from God’s Word, offers assistance to churches with disability ministries, and advocates on behalf of the disabled in the public policy arena.
The William Wilberforce Award is presented each year by the Board of Directors of BreakPoint / the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview to an individual who vividly exemplifies the passions and principles demonstrated by William Wilberforce, including the following:
making a significant impact on the social ills of the day through personal effort, skill, and influence;
showing perseverance and selflessness in combating injustice, even to the point of willingness to sacrifice personal comfort, career, and reputation;
making a positive change in the values and character of society -- "reforming manners" -- through personal witness, example, and education;
serving as an exemplary witness for Christ.
Previous Wilberforce Award Recipients
2011 Wayne "Coach" Gordon
2010 Ambassador Tony P. Hall
2009 Bishop John Rucyahana
2008 Hon. Albert H. Quie
2007 Mr. Gary Haugen
2006 Hon. Joseph R. Pitts
2005 Mr. Constantin Asavoaie
2004 Dr. Phillip E. Johnson
2003 Hon. Sam Brownback
2002 Hon. Christopher Smith
2001 Hon. William E. Simon (1917-2000)
2000 Bishop Macram Max Gassis
1999 Dr. John M. Perkins
1998 Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus
1997 Mr. Michael J. Horowitz
1996 Hon. Kay Cole James
1995 Baroness Cox of Queensberry
1994 Hon. Sam Nunn
1993 Dr. Jorge Crespo Toral
1992 Rev. Gábor Roszík
1991 Hon. William L. Armstrong
1990 Hon. Frank R. Wolf
1988 Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. (1932-1983)