Don Bania With WFTW

  • Sept. 28, 2015
  • #8716

After a tragic accident left him paralyzed, Don became determined to help others with disabilities by organizing wheelchair collections for Wheels for the World.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to "Joni and Friends".

And because it’s called Joni and Friends, over the years I’ve made a lot of great friends through our ministry.  I get so energized by other quadriplegics who love Jesus and are motivated by a good challenge. Take my longtime friend, Don Bania. When you first meet him, he asks you to squeeze his shoulder. He says, “That’s my way of shaking hands; even the slightest touch is a gift.” He was 18 years old — just two months following his 1970 high school graduation — when he broke his neck in a horrible accident.  It was on a hot August afternoon when he was driving a friend’s motorcycle around the lakes in Minneapolis.  A drunk driver pulled out in front of him and Don was unable to stop. His bike broadsided the car and threw him over the handlebars.  With that, he was completely paralyzed.

Don was rushed to a hospital, and at that point, this is what he wrote, he said, “Life as I knew it was changed forever.  In the blink of an eye, my strength was turned to weakness; my ability was fixed into a disability, and the freedom on a motorcycle was traded for counting ceiling tiles from a hospital bed.”

From that hospital, Don was transferred to a nursing home.  Things looked pretty dismal until two people from the Salvation Army came and witnessed to him.  What they told him about Jesus touched his heart and he was transformed.  I once heard Don say that “within every tragedy lies an opportunity.  When you kiss death and are able to walk away and talk about it, you realize that life is a precious gift. A person should take every opportunity to live life to the fullest.” And Don is doing just that.  It’s been many years since those dark days in the hospital and nursing home.  Since then, he has grown powerfully in his walk with the Lord.  And bless his heart; he is really reaching out to others.

In fact, Don is married and he and his wife, Mary, help collect wheelchairs in the upper Midwest for our Wheels for the World outreach—and they do a remarkable job! Remember, this guy is a quad who can’t use his hands, but he can use his mouth stick to dial a phone, send a text, or shoot an email, and through his network of friends, through his phone calls and contacts Don has helped arrange for the collection of thousands of wheelchairs.  This guy has such a heart to help other people with disabilities around the world learn to take every opportunity to live life to the fullest, that’s why he’s so much a part of the team of our Wheels for the World outreach.  What’s more, Don not only serves as a Chair Corps rep (that’s what we call the folks who help collect our wheelchairs), Don and Mary pray for all the many disabled people overseas who will receive these wheelchairs once they are restored.  

In fact, they are praying this week for our Wheels for the World team heading to Jordan in the Middle East.  And right after that, our Wheels for the World teams will be traveling to Guatemala, India and Ghana, giving the Gospel and giving those wheelchairs one by one to kids and adults with disabilities.  I would love for you to meet my friend, Don, and today I have posted a fabulous video – it’s brief, I promise. It’s all about him on my radio page at And while you’re there, ask for my free gift: a worship CD I recorded of some of my favorites. So, take a minute to watch Don's story, and then visit our Wheels for the World page for details on how you can help our outreach! It’s all there for you at Share with us your thoughts and your prayer needs at

© Joni and Friends


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