Meet Peer Mentor: Todd Johnston

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on June 11, 2015 # PFSP

Todd A. Johnston, Program Coordinator (formerly Northeast Regional Coordinator) for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s Peer & Family Support Program (PFSP), shares his story of living with a spinal cord injury and what he has done to improve the quality of life for those living with paralysis.

On July 23, 1983, while Todd was driving home from work on his motorcycle, a car driver did not notice him and pulled into his lane. Todd broadsided the other driver’s vehicle and flew off his motorcycle, crushing the right side of his skull and breaking his spine at T4. The accident left him blind in his right eye and paralyzed from the chest down.

“I was very active in sports and held part time positions as a Lifeguard at New Fairfield Town Park and as a Local Sort Supervisor at United Parcel Service,” Todd said. “Fortunately, I [still] have full use of my arms, allowing me to be independent.”

After the accident, Todd began working as an Employment Services Manager for Ability Beyond Disability in Bethel, Connecticut, and joined the Connecticut Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association (CT-NSCIA) in 1986.

During his employment, Todd got involved with Connect-Ability, where he has been on the steering committee since its inception. During two years of funding, many Connect-Ability projects were geared to providing an infrastructure for businesses to employ people with disabilities. Along with assisting those living with disabilities, Todd was also highly involved in wheelchair basketball with his team, the Connecticut Spokebenders. He also organized Handicapped Awareness Wheelchair basketball games against able-bodied townspeople and celebrities.

Since his accident Todd has helped lead many other fundraisers, such as Take A Veteran Sailing and Moving with HOPE, which he chaired for three years. In 2013 he expanded his community outreach after joining the Connecticut Cross-Disability Life Span Alliance (The Alliance), enrolled in a program called Partners in Policy Making (PPM), and was invited to join an advisory committee to discuss the formation of an adaptive recreation center in Bristol, CT.

“As you can see, sustaining a SCI did not stop me from achieving great things in my life, and I want to inspire others who are living with paralysis to do the same,” said Todd.

Learn more about the Peer & Family Support Program.

Todd is an active participant in our online paralysis community. Leave him a message on his profile!