Miracle Paralyzed Dad Shares His Family's Story...40 Years After Football Injury

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Paralyzed on Oct. 30, 1970, from spinal cord injury during Cornell football game, 60-year-old Long Island man speaks about re-inventing his life after tragic sports injury, starting a career, marrying the woman of this dreams, making the decision to start a family, and, thanks to ground-breaking medical advances...having triplet sons!!

"Now that I look back on the changes of the last 40 years, I am truly blessed...a beautiful wife, a great career, and three healthy sons. I am indeed a very lucky man!"

With football season upon us, and with the upcoming commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the traumatic sports injury that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down, Ken Kunken, a successful attorney from Long Island, is ready to tell his story of loss, inspiration, determination and love.

In 1970, 20-year-old college student Ken Kunken broke his neck during a football game at Cornell University. The injury severed Ken’s spinal cord, leaving him a quadriplegic, almost totally paralyzed from the shoulders down.

Ken would not let his injury keep him from realizing his dreams, and remained determined to lead a useful and productive life. After spending more than nine months in various hospitals and rehabilitation centers, Ken returned to the Cornell campus where he completed his undergraduate degree in engineering. He then earned two graduate degrees, an MA from Cornell in education, and a Master of Education degree from Columbia University in psychology. Wanting to accomplish even more, Ken enrolled in Hofstra University’s School of Law, where he earned a Juris Doctor degree at the age of 32. Ken went to work as an assistant district attorney in Nassau County, NY, where he continues to work today as a Deputy Bureau Chief for Nassau DA Kathleen Rice.

Ken has testified before a US Senate Sub-Committee on Health Care, chaired by Senator Edward Kennedy. Of special note: Ken’s life has been the subject of one of the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale’s nationally-syndicated radio broadcast’s “The American Character.”

In addition, the Ken Kunken Most Valuable Player Award is presented annually by the Adirondack Trust Allegiance Bowl in Saratoga Springs, NY, in recognition of Ken’s personal accomplishments, contributions to society and extraordinary courage. (Note to the Editor: Ken will be the featured speaker at a press conference taking place at 10:30 am on Friday, Oct. 1 at the Saratoga Springs Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs, NY. The press conference will feature sponsors, coaches and athletes from the Adirondack Trust Allegiance Bowl taking place that weekend…following the game, Ken will be presenting the Most Valuable Player Award, named in his honor).

Most notably, Ken’s personal life is worthy of attention. He married Anna at age 52, and the couple decided that they would like to start a family. An organization in Florida dedicated to helping paralyzed males with fertility issues referred Mr. and Mrs. Kunken to Dr. Bruce Gilbert, MD, PhD, a male fertility specialist and urologist at the Smith Institute for Urology of the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

Dr. Gilbert performed outpatient surgery on Ken that involved removing (and freezing) his sperm. On June 13, 2004, Anna underwent in-vitro fertilization. Eight months later, on January 24, 2005, the Kunkens welcomed their three sons into the world—Joseph Benjamin, the oldest brother (by one minute) weighing in at 3 lbs, 14 ounces; middle brother James Lawrence, weighing 3 lbs., 8 ¾ ounces; and the “baby,” Timothy Francis, born one minute after James Lawrence, weighing in at 3 lbs, 2 ¼ ounces.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Ken continues his mission of inspiration by speaking to groups around the country about the need for courage, determination and hard work when faced with adversity. When asked of his feelings regarding the upcoming 40th anniversary of his injury, a smiling Ken replies, “I have a beautiful wife, a wonderful career...and best of all…three healthy boys who are the light of my life. I am a very lucky man.”

To learn more about Ken’s inspiring story, please call Michelle Pinto at 917-327-3898. You can also visit Ken’s website at http://www.kenkunken.com.

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Michelle PInto

917-327-3898
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