Wantagh resident Joe Testaverde received the 2006 New York State Senate "Achievers’ Award" from Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) during the 26th Annual Disabilities Awareness Day Awards Ceremony in Albany. The "Achievers’ Award" recognizes an individual’s ability to overcome personal, physical challenges and honors their accomplishments on behalf of themselves and their community.
"Over the past several years, Joe has dedicated himself towards raising awareness about Spinal Cord Injuries and teaching young children about preventing these types of injuries. Joe’s desire to use his story to help improve the lives of others serves as an inspiration to us all. He is most deserving of this prestigious honor," said Senator Fuschillo.
While attending a party at a friend's home on the evening of July 4, 2000, Joe dove into a swimming pool and broke his neck, fracturing 2 vertebrae and injuring his spinal cord. Although he was pulled from the water by two of his friends, he was left paralyzed in his legs and hands.
Following emergency surgery at Nassau University Medical Center, Joe was transferred to Kessler Institute in New Jersey where he underwent extensive treatment and rehabilitation for many weeks.
With great effort, Joe has fought back, regaining some use of his hands. He graduated high school in 2001 and learned to drive a specially designed van. While he lives with the many side effects of SCI, Joe is very active. He now travels independently, speaks at schools to talk with kids about his injury and about prevention. Joe is active with the Testaverde Fund for Spinal Cord Injury, a nonprofit group formed in his name. He has even started a new program called Wheels 2 Water, which has allowed him and other disabled young men and women get back on surfboards and enjoy their passion once again. Joe is also Assistant Director to the Long Island Spinal Cord Resource Center (LISCIRC), a project of the Testaverde Fund for Spinal Cord Injury, Inc.
The New York State Senate "Achievers’ Award" is presented each spring in conjunction with Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day, an annual event sponsored by the Senate to raise public consciousness of the efforts and accomplishments of citizens with physical disabilities.
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