Hurtling into a tackle, Marc Buoniconti made contact, and then—he felt nothing. He saw an arm flop to the ground and as he struggled to breathe, he became aware whose arm it was: his.
That third-and-one play for The Citadel linebacker began as a game-changing moment but quickly turned life-changing for the son of NFL Hall of Fame legend Nick Buoniconti. On October 26, 1985, Marc was paralyzed for life from the shoulders down, injured in the same fashion as he had lived up to then: recklessly. But the same drive to push the limit in everything he’d encountered, from drugs to skipping school to never backing down from a dare, was the catalyst for Marc’s resolve to get off a ventilator, beat the odds, and turn catastrophe into a life of purpose.
His family knew he was the only one of them who could have handled such a challenge. Marc’s battle to live a full life was the genesis for nonprofit The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and The Buoniconti Fund, which to date has raised more than $450 million for research into the treatment of spinal cord and brain injuries. With renewed spirit and commitment refueled, Marc has become the face of The Miami Project. Working with Dr. Barth Green and many others, Marc has led the charge to change the lives of thousands of people who previously had no hope after suffering a similar catastrophic injury.
This is his story.