Striving & Thriving
Charlie's Biography Charlie Ekizian, a Boston native, has been a pioneer in motivating the spinal-cord-injured toward community involvement since his own diving accident in 1968. Already a legend in his own community at age 21 because of his indomitable spirit and feats of strength, his C5/C6 level injury put him on a more spiritual path--one of unlimited challenge, mastery, and outreach. Charlie was deeply impressed during his rehabilitation process by the love and care that surrounded him--and by a visit from a spinal-cord-injured veteran. He set high goals for himself, but his primary goal became giving back to others all that had been given to him. From 1970 to 1981 Charlie worked full-time as a communications supervisor at Tufts New England Medical Center, often doing double shifts as well as finding time to mentor and counsel newly-injured at that facility. His outreach included many speaking engagements at Boston hospitals and universities. He was an early member of Mass Association of Paraplegics which later developed into the Greater Boston Chapter of the Spinal Cord Injury Association. From 1971 through 1993 Charlie competed nationally and medalled in pentathlon, javelin, shot put, discus, slalom, swimming, and track events, usually taking silvers and golds in up to eight events at each annual meet. He also won national top medals in rowing every year he competed, and coached others in all these skills, as well as weightlifting events. In 1988 he was a founder of the New England regional quad rugby team, and he is still a passionate rugby player. But winning medals is not what he's about. His greatest joy is to spark others to self-actualization, and he uses these activities as tools to this end. Charlie worked for the New England Paralyzed Veterans of America as a legislative advocate and was instrumental in the successful inclusion of disabled as a protected class under Mass. Commission Against Discrimination. In 1989 Charlie and his wife Danielle, an attorney, founded Wheelchair Sports and Recreation Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation. Since 1989 hundreds of disabled have participated in WSRA-sponsored programs of sled hockey, adaptive kayaking, rowing, handcycling, basketball, ice-sailing, and community involvement programs such as hospital peer counseling, local school outreach (Jocks on Wheels), beach and park modification projects, adaptive sports exhibitions, forums, and more! Charlie has made numerous appearances on local and national TV and radio to raise public consciousness about the extraordinary abilities of so-called "dis"abled and the importance of inclusion opportunities in every arena. He has also won numerous personal awards, such as the Governor's Neighborhood Superstar Award, and WBZ's 'Hero.' Since 1995 Charlie has also served as the Sports Director for the Greater Boston Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association and as an enthusiastic peer counselor volunteer. While his proudest achievement is watching the continuing success of the hundreds he has worked with over the last thirty years, Charlie is not an observer. His life demonstrates maximum involvement--his motto: "Full Program: My name is down for all today's events!"