SCI Superstar: Senator Thomas P. Kennedy

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After a spinal cord injury, we all find our own way of moving forward, and for Senator Thomas P. Kennedy his way forward was through politics. His hometown mayor recruited him after his injury where he found politics and a sense of purpose; something he was aching for.

But he didn’t decide to run right way, he was just happy to help out, learning and observing, but soon this quad became a State Representative in the House for his home state of Massachusetts, making disability history. Read on for more on the tenacity of Sen. Tom P. Kennedy.

Why He Was Fearless

Sen. Tom P. Kennedy grow up in the city of Brockton, a historic ward south of Boston. Brockton is one of those cities that creates tough individuals, from boxer Rocky Marciano to Rev. John Sheehan, O.M.I., a heroic missionary priest from World War II. Tom Kennedy was definitely one of them.

An Irish descendant of WWI immigrants, he was raised in the Catholic faith on his family’s longtime homestead, where he still lives till this day. He was even planning on becoming a priest, and was in seminary school at the time of his injury.

But at the age of 19 while studying to become a priest, he broke his neck in a window washing accident, becoming a C5 quad. Sadly, he had to abandon his dream of becoming a priest since his fingers were paralyzed and it would be near impossible for him to deliver the sacrament.

Tom was injured in 1971, and the medical world at the time kept people in the hospital for much longer periods. He was in and out of the hospital for over three years, and finally after returning home to Brockton in 1973, one of the best things that could’ve happened occurred to him did – he found purpose . Newly elected mayor of his hometown, David Crosby, invited him to join his staff (Thomas’ family was friends with Crosby’s family) and the rest is history.

“It made me feel I was worth something to someone somewhere,” he said about the opportunity. “At that time, I wasn’t able to do anything. I could barely write my name.” Soon he envisioned himself in politics himself and in 1977 after campaigning door-to-door in his wheelchair, he was elected to the City Council of Brockton. And five years later, he won a state representative seat, which he held for over 25 years.

What’s Next?

A Democrat known for supporting children and anti-drug legislation, he also worked hard to make Uber accessible in his hometown. He eventually become a State Senator of Massachusetts, serving from 2010 – 2015 for the 2nd Plymouth & Bristol Districts. He was one of the few quadriplegics in the world to hold such a high political office. Sadly, Sen. Kennedy passed away while he was still a State Senator in 2015 from pneumonia. 

– Sen. Thomas Kennedy’s old Facebook Page

Watch the Videos

– Sen. Thomas Kennedy receives Legislator of the Year Award

– Sen. Tom Kennedy Delivers Citation to Radio Host

– Senator Kennedy Speaking At The Opioid Listening Tour in Plymouth, MA

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