‘I am truly doing all the things I never thought I could do — and you can, too.’
Kenneth Kunken, Rockville Centre
“In 1970, as a typical college student at Cornell University, I had dreams of a fulfilling life. One night while at a cabin with my football teammates, I attempted to cook without knowledge of a pilot light. This led to a gas explosion, miraculously leaving me unharmed.
“I remember lying in bed that night thinking how lucky I was. I remember thinking, ‘If I can survive an explosion like that without being injured, I can survive anything. Nothing can happen to me. I must be invincible!’ However, my luck soon turned when the next day, I broke my neck while playing football at Cornell University, leaving me paralyzed.
“My future became uncertain, shattering my hopes and dreams. Almost everybody was giving me very little hope for ever leading a useful, productive or rewarding, life but I did not let them stop me.
“I went back to Cornell to complete my engineering degree and became the first quadriplegic to graduate from Cornell. In 2002, I met my wife, Anna. It was love at first sight. I never thought I could be a father, but we looked into vitro fertilization. We pushed the envelope and defied the odds; we received the news that we were having triplets!
“After earning two master’s degrees and a JD [juris doctor], I became an assistant district attorney for Nassau County, prosecuting more than 50 felony jury trials over a 40-year span. Prior to attending law school at Hofstra, I worked as a certified rehabilitation counselor for individuals with severe disabilities.
My passion for advocacy led me to become a motivational speaker and champion for legislation and accommodations that empower disabled individuals to reach their full potential.
“My passion for advocacy led me to become a motivational speaker and champion for legislation and accommodations that empower disabled individuals to reach their full potential.
“Recently, I authored my own memoir entitled ‘I Dream of Things that Never Were: The Ken Kunken Story.’ I am truly doing all the things I never thought I could do — and you can, too.”
Interviewed by Starr Fuentes