This is a photo of Joe Perez



Joe Perez was born prematurely in Manhattan on November 7, 1942. Six months later he was diagnosed with Infantile Paralysis (Cerebral Palsy). At age nine New York State offered to institutionalize Joe but his parents refused to give him up to the state. By age 12 he became the first person with Cerebral Palsy to be taught to swim at Teacher’s College at Columbia University by Dr. Josephine Rathbone, the head of the Physical Therapy Department. At age 15 Joe was additionally diagnosed with Binocular Dyslexia at the Eye Institute of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. His formal education started at that time and he learned how to read by age 18. At age 43 Joe became the first Quadriplegic to have ever run and complete the New York City marathon. His weight lifting career started at the age of 11 in his apartment. His father had created a gym in the spare room for his brother and Joe joined them for workouts. By age 45, Joe had earned a bronze medal at the Paralympic CanAm Games and qualified for the Paralympics in Seoul, Korea. He ultimately qualified twice for the Paralympics. At age 46 Joe was the recipient of the Roberto Clemente Athlete of the Year at the Nosotros Awards, which have been given out for over 30 years in all areas of accomplishment. He was the first athlete with a disability to receive this award. Past award winners have included Mohamed Ali. The highlight of his career accomplishments was at age 47 to receive the Gold Medal at the Paralympic National Games at Hartford, CT. He then went on to England and won the Silver Medal at the World Paralympic Championships in Wolverhampton. Recently at age 69 after 45 years of practice and training he was awarded two black belts in Jujitsu from two different organizations.