Joel Sonnenberg & Gregg Lewis's Bio:
By January of 2002, Joel Sonnenberg, at the age of 24, had earned more honors, enjoyed more experiences, learned more crucial life lessons, faced more challenges, overcome more hardships, developed a deeper faith, and influenced more individuals than most people do in a lifetime.
This is a result of how he chose to live his life following an accident that would have made a recluse of almost anyone else. At the age of 22 months, Joel was burned over 85 percent of his body, losing his hands and fingers, toes, and all of his facial features. But Joel was an outgoing kid, and once he was back home from the hospital, he continued to live life to the fullest. A preschooler doesn’t think too much about his appearance.
This attitude led him to overcome many physical and emotional obstacles, and to never let his disability limit his success.
Joel spent his early years in the New York metropolitan area, then his parents moved the family to a smaller community so that he was not constantly encountering strangers’ stares and comments. Montreat, in the mountains of Western North Carolina, embraced Joel as a hometown hero. He grew to become a student leader, model citizen, and nationally-sought speaker.
Since his early teen years Joel has been a frequent speaker at churches, in college chapel programs, and at youth camps. His first major speaking opportunity came at the age of five when he was guest speaker for a Shriners $100 Million Dollar Dinner fundraiser in Orlando, Florida. At the age of sixteen, he was a guest lecturer for a graduate level course on The Psychology of Special Children at the University of South Carolina. His college classmates selected him to be the student speaker during his commencement ceremony at Taylor University, where he recently received a bachelors degree in Communication Studies. He has had numerous opportunities to speak since then, including a keynote speech before several thousand people at the National Youth Workers Conference in Anaheim, California, last fall. He has been the keynote speaker at numerous conferences including the International Campus Crusade Convention, the Indiana Firefighters Ball, and the World Burn Conferences.
He made his first guest appearance on network television when he was five. From network morning and evening news shows, to television news magazines such as CBS' The Public Eye and 48 Hours, to talk shows hosted by such varied interviewer personalities as Bryant Gumbel, Dan Rather, Montel Williams, Maury Povich, and Dr. James Kennedy.