RANDY L. PLEVA SR.
PVA president’s message
Recognitions and Revelry
In 1946, a determined group of World War II paraplegic veterans -patients at Birmingham General Hospital in California- laid the groundwork for an organization that would, as they put it, “safeguard the interests of all paraplegic patients in the nation.” Shortly after, similar groups joined with them, eventually becoming the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).
Now, 60 years later, that handful of members has grown to 20,000 veterans with SCI/D. Collectively, these individuals have served in every major U.S. military conflict, from World War II to Iraq.
Initially, the organization’s focus was to help paralyzed veterans at bedside, addressing healthcare needs at the point of care. However, many of them left the hospitals only to encounter the everyday realities of living with a disability in an inaccessible world. As a result, PVA has continued to grow and evolve in order to meet new challenges. PVA has an outstanding record in providing education and training materials to the public and healthcare professionals.
For six decades, PVA with help from its friends-has made a difference.
For the hundreds of people who attended the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s 60th Anniversary Celebration, at the Ronald Reagan Building and Internation al Trade Center in Washington, D.c., September 12, 2006, was a night to remember.
The evening’s highlights included presentation of honors to visionary leaders who have proven their resolute dedication to our nation’s vast community of heroic veterans. The gala’s host was Sachi Koto, a 30-year veteran of international broadcast journalism and former CNN Headline News anchor.
The first award, the Paralyzed Veterans Honor for Lifetime Achievement, went to Senator Bob Dole for his consistent and lifelong commitment to the health, welfare, and well-being of America’s servicemen and -women.
With the establishment of the Dole Foundation, the senator significantly increased public awareness of critical issues within the disability community. As Senate majority leader, his tireless championing of disability issues earned him recognition as a visionary leader on behalf of all disadvantaged Americans. PVA honored his enduring career in public service and his continuous support of America’s armed forces.
Richard Petty, “The King” of NASCAR racing, received the Paralyzed Veterans Honor in Sports award. With 200 career NASCAR Winston Cup victories and seven Cup Championships, Petty recently joined the fight to support veterans and find a cure for paralysis as chair of the PVA SpeedyTags program. As 2006 National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans chair, the legendary racer also teamed up with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to promote volunteerism at VA hospitals.
Other honors included:
- Paralyzed Veterans Speedy Award (non-member category): The Honorable Anthony J. Principi, former VA secretary and current senior vice president of government relations of Pfizer, Inc.
- Paralyzed Veterans Honor for Patriotism: General Hugh Shelton, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and current board member, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
- Paralyzed Veterans Honor in Health-Care Research: Dr. Gary Michelson, surgeon and inventor.
- The Paralyzed Veterans Honor for Civil Rights: The Honoorable Norman Y. Mineta, former U.S. Department of Transportation secretary and current vice chairman, Hill & Knowlton.
- The Paralyzed Veterans Honor for Public Awareness: Kenneth Fisher, chairman and CEO, The Fisher House Foundation.
For six decades, PVA -with help from its friends- has definitely made a difference. And we want to do more in 2007 and beyond.
See photos on opposite page for award recipients.
December 2006 PN | 10