John Charles Hockenberry was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1956. Approximately two years after graduating East Grand Rapids High School in Michigan, Hockenberry was injured in an automobile accident while hitchhiking along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The driver of the automobile had fallen asleep behind the wheel. The driver was killed in the accident. Hockenberry was permanently paralyzed.
Hockenberry is an achiever, although fate dealt him a difficult hand. After the accident, he received food stamps and worked as a nursing home aide. A volunteer position for the National Public Radio affiliate KLCC in Eugene, Oregon jump started Hockenberry’s career. He was a newscaster in Washington, D.C. in the 1980’s and hosted his own news show known as, Heat with John Hockenberry. He served as a Middle East correspondent and hosted Talk of the Nation.
During the early part of the 1990’s, Hockenberry covered the civil war in Somalia. He began working as a correspondent on Dateline NBC in 1996 and hosted Edgewise on MSNBC. He has also written for the Washington Post and the New York Times. Hockenberry was awarded the Emmy four times, Peabody award three times, a Casey medal and an Edward R. Murrow award. Currently, Hockenberry is the anchor for the Takeaway, a radio program on WYNC and PRI.
During his days as a correspondent, Hockenberry hauled himself in and out of jeeps, maneuvered steep hillsides, rolled through refugee camps and plowed through the snow in a wheelchair. Hockenberry states that he made a vow from his hospital bed, to never allow the world to push him. When navigating rough terrain, he has learned to tie his legs in place and other items that need hauling to the chair with bungee cords.
Hockenberry published a book containing his memoirs titled, Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declaration of Independence. In his memoirs, Hockenberry discusses personal information that is on the minds of readers in his matter-of-fact nature. He supports inclusion of the mobility impaired. Today, Hockenberry lives in New York City with his wife and five children.
*Photo courtesy of John Hockenberry by Juliana Rotich on Flickr’s Creative Commons.