Joe Testaverde, injured July 4th. 2000
In the summer of 2000, Joe Testaverde was a normal healthy teenager growing up in a middle class town of Wantagh,
Long Island. At 17, he was approaching his senior year in high school and was spending the summer doing what he
loved best – fishing and surfing. As the Fourth of July weekend approached, thoughts of school and career goals
seemed a long way off.
That weekend Joe’s life would take a major change. 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. Were
it not for the quick thinking of two friends who jumped in the water after him, he would not be alive today. Still, Joe was
left paralyzed in his legs and hands.
Following the accident, Joe was fortunate to have been brought to Nassau County Medical Center where Dr. Vincent
Leoni, the renowned doctor who treated Chinese gymnast Sang Lan, performed the necessary surgery to stabilize his
neck. Joe was then transferred to Kessler Institute in New Jersy where he underwent extensive treatment and
rehabilitation for many weeks.
Joe has slowly fought back. With great effort, he has regained some use of his hands, graduated high school and
learned to drive. While he lives with the many side effects of SCI, in addition to the obvious ones, he makes
improvements in his life daily, trying to regain as much independence as he can.
During Joe’s rehab, his family and friends organized a major fund raiser for a trust fund which was established for Joey’
s needs. The event drew over 700 people from all over Long Island, including a number of celebrities and
dignitaries. One of those was Kent Waldrep, founder of the Kent Waldrep National Paralyis Foundation, who provided
the keynote address. After meeting Kent and being inspired by his energy and enthusiasm, Joe’s parents – Kathy and
Anthony Testaverde, along with his dad’s cousin – Ron Quartararo, and other friends and family members started the
Joe Testaverde Chapter of the National Paralysis Foundation in the summer of 2001 to raise money for research into a
cure for spinal cord injury. In 2003, they renamed the organization the Testaverde Fund for SCI Inc in 2003, applying
for and receiving their own 501C3 tax exempt status.
Joe continues to battle both the emotional and physical handicaps. He has learned that with perserverance and hope,
he can and will enjoy life to the fullest, while waiting for science and God to provide a cure. In August 2004, Joe flew to
California to participate in a surf club for SCI surfing enthusiasts. While that sport would be daunting for those who are
not paralyzed, it was great fun for Joe, who spent the entire day in the Pacific, riding the waves!!
Joe is now Assistant Director to the newly formed Long Island Spinal Cord Resource Center (LISCIRC), a project of the
Testaverde Fund. Joe will be focused on addressing high school students in health classes throughout Long Island to
talk about SCI prevention and the search for a cure! -Back to stories