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2018 Salute to Our Heroes Gala

We are honored to present The 2018 Spinal Cord Injury Hope Award to Mr. Johnny McGinn.

Johnny is a tireless champion, and advocate for clients and client applicants of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind, and the Independent Living programs. He is a huge inspiration to all our survivors, caregivers, and any individual facing any physical challenge, and the emotional toil such can take on a survivor, family and caregiver.

In 1995, Johnny suffered severe lung, head and spinal cord injuries from a car accident, resulting in a Thoracic 1[T1] level injury. Now limited to a wheelchair, he attributes his dedication to months of strenuous physical therapy and rehabilitation and the love and support of family and friends for his recuperation and adjustment to this lifestyle.

As part of his recovery, in 1997, with the support and encouragement of Michael Cottingham, an adaptive sports athlete, Johnny began playing wheelchair tennis. He progressed quickly in the sport and gained the financial support of a local hospital and the Mississippi Tennis Association to purchase a sports chair and to fund professional instruction. By 1999, Johnny began competing in local and national USTA and ITF tournament in both singles and doubles. By 2000 he was ranked number 1 in Men’s C Division and by 2004, top 10 in Men’s A Division.

With a niche for coaching, Johnny obtained his United States Professional Tennis Association [USPTA] teaching license in 2002 and has served as an assistant tennis coach with local youth tennis programs and also provides individual instruction for both adaptive and able-bodied players. Johnny also serves as the State Coordinator for Mississippi for the USTA Southern Section and is Chair of the Wheelchair Committee for the Mississippi Tennis Association. Additionally, he encourages others to play through his participation in national and international tournaments and as a spokesperson for adaptive sports through the Mississippi Society for Disabilities and USPTA. The self-confidence and strength of will he has gained through involvement in wheelchair tennis and other adaptive sports he feels is invaluable. Furthermore, he feels a responsibility to pass these opportunities on to others.

Johnny is currently active with the Methodist Rehabilitation Center, providing monthly tennis exhibitions and serving as a tennis instructor to those interested in learning how to play. He has also lead tennis clinics for the Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital’s "Spring Fling" and at the "Arthur Ashe Day", which give hospital children the opportunity to go out and hit balls, watch others play, and have fun. Johnny is a board member and active participant of Metro Area Community Empowerment (MACE) that goes around the state teaching people with disabilities wheelchair basketball, fishing, softball, tennis and any other sport they want to do. He is also a member of the States Rehabilitation Counsel (SRC) to help improve life for people with disabilities.

While tennis is his primary sport, Johnny also participates in adaptive water skiing, snow skiing and hand cycling, and has served as a soccer coach with local youth programs. He is also a mentor and motivator to others with varying degrees of quadriplegia or paraplegia and a spokesperson to schools and community organizations on overcoming disabilities.

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 Brain Injury Association of Mississippi

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