Five Heroes Who Rose Above Physical Disability

Meet the five citizens who best exemplify exceptional strength and courage in the face of physical adversity.

Monday, Feb 13, 2012  |  Updated 11:02 AM EDT
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Five Heroes Who Rose Above Physical Disability

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This article is sponsored by National Rehabilitation Hospital, the trusted leader in caring for people and advancing health. To learn how National Rehabilitation Hospital can help you, go to nrhrehab.org.

 

 

We can all use a little inspiration.

This past December, for the 25th year, National Rehabilitation Hospital honored five Americans who best exemplify exceptional strength and courage in the face of physical adversity. 

These honors, called The Victory Awards®, were created by NRH in 1986 to celebrate the Victory of the Human Spirit.

Take inspiration from the recipients, below, who received this nationally recognized, one-of-a-kind award. 

 

Edward A. Eckenhoff – Founder and former President and CEO of NRH. Mr. Eckenhoff, a paraplegic as the result of a car accident while he was in college, has devoted his life to helping those with disabilities. In addition to founding and overseeing the construction of NRH, he has served in various capacities and on boards of directors for such organizations as the Easter Seal Society for Disabled Children and Adults, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). He has also dedicated his time lobbying for the rights of the disabled on Capitol Hill. Today, Mr. Eckenhoff continues his work at NRH in fund-raising, helping NRH prepare for the future.

Mickey Gilley – Legendary country music singer featured in the hit 1978 film Urban Cowboy. Mr. Gilley has racked up 17 number one hits, earned several Gold Records and a Grammy. The Mississippi native, whose cousin is singer Jerry Lee Lewis, once worked construction jobs by day and sang at night to support himself before his career took off. Mr. Gilley suffered paralysis from an accidental fall in 2009 while helping a friend move some furniture. After some intensive physical therapy, Mr. Gilley is back on stage singing again.

 

Robert David Hall – Plays the chief medical examiner ‘Dr. Albert Robbins’ on CBS-TV’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Mr. Hall is a double leg amputee following a car accident in 1978, in which a tractor trailer crushed his car. His gas tank also exploded, causing burns over 65% of his body. A devoted community activist, Mr. Hall is one of the most prominent disabled actors working today. One of his proudest moments came last summer, when he introduced President Obama on the White House lawn during a ceremony marking the 20th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). He serves on the Board of Directors of the National Organization on Disability and is National Chairman of the Performers with Disabilities Caucus for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and Actors’ EQUITY. Many organizations have acknowledged Mr. Hall’s fine work on behalf of those with disabilities. In addition to his acting career, he tours the nation speaking to various groups.

Marquita Lister – International opera sensation who has earned worldwide critical praise for the past two decades, during which time she has garnered kudos from critics and colleagues alike, while audiences the world over relish her interpretive dramatic capabilities in each operatic role. Ms. Lister’s repertoire includes the works of Verdi, Puccini, Gershwin and Strauss, and she has been heard in the most prestigious opera houses around the world. Her on-stage partners have included Placido Domingo, among others. Ms. Lister has appeared in television productions with the Boston Pops and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as well as on PBS in the broadcast, Live from Lincoln Center. A former NRH patient, Ms. Lister came to the hospital in 2006 for rehabilitation after she became critically ill with inflammation of the lungs and muscles. She fought hard and has made a remarkable recovery, with her beautiful singing voice unaffected. Ms. Lister has since returned to the stage, delighting audiences wherever she goes.

Kevin Pearce – Highly accomplished U.S. Snowboarder and four-time Winter X Games Medalist. Kevin catapulted onto the professional snowboarding stage in 2005 at age 18, quickly becoming the athlete to watch in the ever-evolving sport. Kevin was deemed TTR (Ticket to Ride) Champion at the end of the 2008 season. In the 2009 Winter X Games, Kevin brought home the Silver Medal for Superpipe, making him the front-runner to win Gold in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The 23-year-old world champion snowboarder and U.S. Olympic hopeful sustained a traumatic brain injury when he crashed during a training run in Park City, Utah in late 2009. Kevin has made great strides in his recovery and is now analyzing snowboarding from the broadcast booth and hopes to be back on snow this winter.

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