Ocean Springs man receives MDA achievement award

By WLOX Staff

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The Ocean Springs man known nationwide as "America's Strength Coach" has been awarded  the Muscular Dystrophy Association's 2009 Robert Ross Personal Achievement Award for Mississippi.

Gregory Smith, 45, is being honored for his personal and professional success, and for his advocacy for people with disabilities.  Smith is a motivational speaker who speaks at corporations, colleges and universities, high schools, elementary schools, associations and at other conferences and meetings, where he focuses on teaching people to build their inner strengths.

Smith is the author of "On a Roll: Reflections from America's Wheelchair Dude with the Winning Attitude," and subject of the PBS award-winning documentary film, "On a Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream." He also hosted the nationally syndicated radio show, "On a Roll: Talk Radio on Life & Disability."

Smith has Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD), a degenerative genetic disease that causes generalized weakness and muscle wasting. He was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a baby. He had three metal rods inserted in his back (spinal fusion) at age 13 and since then has used a power wheelchair to maintain mobility and independence.

"Greg's impressive achievements are a fine example of the vital contributions being made by people with muscle diseases in communities across the country," MDA President & CEO Gerald C. Weinberg said.

You'll be able to watch Greg Smith accept his award on September 7th, during the local broadcast of the 2009 Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon on WLOX.

The Robert Ross Personal Achievement Award is named for MDA's longtime chief executive, who died in June 2006. Ross created the award program to educate the public that disability is no obstacle to accomplishment.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.