2006 Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame Inductees Honored
Bethesda, MD – Fourteen of the best and brightest in the spinal cord injury (SCI) community were honored at the
second annual SCI Hall of Fame™ induction ceremony and gala at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on
the evening of October 30th, hosted by author and journalist, John Hockenberry, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in
its inaugural year.
Formed by the
National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA) in 2005, the SCI Hall of Fame was created to recognize excellence and honor
individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to quality of life and advancements toward a better
future for all individuals with spinal cord injury. Participation in this year’s process was strong, with nearly 100
This year’s inductees and their categories included: Dr. Michael Boninger,
Executive Director of the Center for Assistive Technology at the University of Pittsburgh (Assistive Technology), The Medtronic
Foundation (Benefactor), Stanley T. Sigman, Chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based Cingular Wireless (Corporate Executive), Joni
Eareckson-Tada, author and founder of Joni and Friends (Disability Activist), Cindy Purcell, Massachusetts Rehabilitation
Commission (Disability Educator), Lisa Thorson, advocate for full access to the arts and co-founder of Next Move Unlimited
(Entertainment), James Shepherd, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Shepherd Center(Entrepreneur), Gordon Mansfield, Deputy
Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Government Executive), Bob Kafka, Co-Director of ADAPT (Grassroots Organizer), Congressman
James Langevin (Legislative), Joe Shapiro, author and reporter for National Public Radio(Media), Dr. Barth Green, co-founder,
President and Clinical Program Director of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis (Research in Basic Science), Lex Freiden, Senior
Vice President at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (Research in Quality of Life) and Dave Kiley, noted wheelchair
athlete and director of Turning Point (Sports).
In addition to the 14 Hall of Fame categories, NSCIA presented an Emerging Leader
Award to Cody Unser, founder of the Cody Unser First Step Foundation, for exceptional leadership qualities in a local or regional
capacity toward the improvement of opportunities or quality of life for persons living with SCI. To learn about all this year’s
nominees, visit www.spinalcord.org.
The ceremony was hosted by NSCIA in conjunction with the second Spinal Cord Injury
(SCI) Summit™, October 29th – November 1, 2006, at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda, MD, and was supported by a wide
range of sponsors including The Medtronic Foundation, The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Klein, The John
F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Allergan, Inc., Acorda Therapeutics, Henry H. Kessler Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans
of America (PVA), Microsoft, Motorola, McDonald's Corporation, Cingular Wireless, Abilities Expo, Astratech, Quickie / Sunrise
Medical, Restorative Therapies, Ron Shapiro Charitable Foundation, Christopher Reeve Foundation, Mitsubishi Electric America
Foundation, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, The Shepherd Center, New Mobility Magazine, Ability Magazine and HDI Publishers
Pat Maher, chairman of the nomination, voting and selection process, shares his
perspective on the significance of the Hall of Fame. “What has been most rewarding for me has been learning how many
outstanding persons and organizations are working to better the quality of life for persons living with spinal cord injury.
The heartfelt language used in nominating in every category suggests how deeply impacting the work of these nominees has been
and will continue to be.”
Through an online voting process, members of NSCIA were able to vote for the nominees
they believed were most deserving in each category. Each member’s vote was counted only once to ensure a fair voting
process. After open voting, the nominees with the highest number of votes were reviewed by a Voting Selection Committee, with
representation from across the SCI spectrum, who determined the inductees in each category
Last year’s first-ever SCI Hall of Fame gala event honored 10 individuals
who have made significant contributions to quality of life and advancements toward a better future for all individuals with
spinal cord injury. Those 10 inaugural inductees, and their categories, were: Christopher Reeve, Benefactor; Teddy Pendergrass
(PA), Entertainment; Marilyn Hamilton (CA), Entrepreneur; Senator Tom Harkin (IA), Legislative; Barry Corbet, Disability Awareness/Activism;
John Hockenberry (NY), Media; Randy Snow (TX), Sports; Rory Cooper (PA), Assistive Technology; Duane French (WA), Corporate/Government
Executive, and Wise Young (NJ), Research. Many of the inaugural group attended the Gala to welcome the new inductees.
The mission of The National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA) is to enable
people with spinal cord injury and disease (SCI/D) to achieve their highest level of independence, health, and quality of
NSCIA actively advocates for best practices and public policies that proactively
affect people with SCI/D, their families and service providers. The Association conducts public policy initiatives through
its local chapters and at the national level and actively collaborates with other national organizations on issues of mutual
For more information, visit www.spinalcord.org or call (800) 962-9629.
HOF 2006 Nominees:
Disability Educator – The nominees for this category will have a spinal cord injury or disease
and will have established a record of educating the public toward a clearer understanding of living with SCI. While it is
preferable that the nominees are providing this education in-person, other forms of transferring knowledge about living with
SCI may be accepted such as a strong internet presence and material.
HOF 2006 Nominees:
Michelle White, also known
as “Spiney,” has a Masters Degree in Special Education and is a teacher at Ebenezer Elementary School.
Miss White, as she is called
by many students, is different from most, if not all. Miss White had a major life changing accident in September of
2001. While parachuting, the powered parachute she was in was thrown off by a sudden gust of wind, causing the craft
to come down. Miss White broke her neck at the C-5 level, resulting in a spinal cord injury.
As a result, Spiney, the
lead character in her book "New Opportunities" was born. "New Opportunities" is a true account of Miss White's real-life confrontation
with disability. Spiney is a porcupine that experiences an accident resulting in spinal cord injury.
Through Spiney, Miss White
teaches the reader three important lessons: That having a disability does not have to hold you back, that when you get "stuck"
you must keep looking for ways to overcome, and that it is OK to do things differently from others.
Miss White realized
that both children and adults needed to be educated about spinal cord injury and overcoming obstacles. The story has provided
her with a teaching resource to use with people of all age levels.
For younger audiences, it
teaches that it is OK to be different. For older children and adults, it is a story of inspiration and pursuing dreams.
the past year, Miss White has been presenting her story and educating students about spinal cord injury in several area schools.
She spoke to Cedar Crest High School P. E. classes on how to stay safe and encouraged students not to give up on themselves
no matter what happens.
She spoke with many elementary
students through the story. The children had the opportunity to ask questions about the accident and being in a wheelchair.
The children walked away with a greater acceptance of differences.
Michelle is very active in her local Spinal Support
Group and is currently organizing their website. In the past year she has been in the news, on the radio and on "Cool Schools.”
She is this year's recipient
of Lebanon Valley Colleges Young Alumni Award and Pecan Inc's recipient of the Arpeggio Award which is presented to a well
known artist known for their work with youth through the arts.