Life as Joni Eareckson Tada knew came to a standstill when she was just 18 years old. A diving accident stole her ability to move from the shoulders down.
Her story of faith played out on the big screen and inspired millions with and without disabilities.
Still today, four decades later, Eareckson Tada is touching lives and sharing her message through her global ministry "Joni and Friends".
Recently, she was in East Tennessee celebrating the Knoxville Chapter's 10 year anniversary.
"We need to bend over backwards, do all we can to alleviate that suffering and to extend Christs' love and grace to those people who have no hope," said Eareckson Tada.
Hope is what she is holding on to even tighter these days. In June, 2010 I discovered a lump in my breast. It was stage 3 breast cancer."
Surgery and rounds of chemotherapy took their toll. Eareckson Tada admits she might not have gotten to this point if she had gotten regular mammograms.
Now she is leaning on her faith and the shoulders of breast cancer survivors. She said they inspire her. And the fight is only making her stronger.
"My cancer is a bruising and a blessing. It was a strange, dark companion because it drew me closer to my friends, to my sisters, much closer to my husband and to God."