Daniel “Danny” Heumann was paralyzed in a car accident on August 13, 1985, two weeks before he was to begin his freshman year at Syracuse University. He began at Syracuse a year later and graduated in 1991 from the Newhouse School of Communications with a Bachelor of Science in Television, Radio and Film Management and minor in political science. After working for the Washington Bullets for two years in Marketing and Sales, Danny attended the Washington College of Law at American University, earning his JD in 1998.
After law school, Danny became the Vice President of the Daniel Heumann Fund for Spinal Cord Research, a Foundation started by his parents, family and friends. Over its 22-year existence, the foundation raised more than $5 million. Danny also advocated for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health, and specifically the National Institute for Neurological Diseases and Stroke. In 2007, he was instrumental in the Daniel Heumann Fund for Spinal Cord Research joining the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Danny served on the Reeve Foundation’s board for 10 years and remains active in the organization today.
Danny along with his wife, Lynn, also started Heumannly Capable, a motivational speaking/consulting company. Through this dimension of his work, Danny has spoken to a wide range of audiences from all over the country, from Fortune 500 companies to secondary schools, about overcoming adversity and managing change. As a patient advocate, Danny has appeared on CNN, the Jim Lehrer News Hour and NPR, as well as various local news and radio programs. He’s also been quoted in various newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Herald, Chicago Tribune, Syracuse Post Standard and Detroit News and Free Press.
In 2005, Danny was instrumental with other advocates in creating a grassroots coalition in Michigan, Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures. The coalition included all the major research universities in the state, the governor, state and federal legislators, and advocacy groups. The coalition educated citizens, federal and state legislators on the science of stem cell research. Three years later, in the 2008 general election, 53 percent of Michigan citizens voted to overturn a Michigan law that made it illegal for scientists to derive embryonic stem cell lines from embryos that would otherwise be discarded as medical waste. Danny’s hope is that one day many diseases and disabilities, including spinal cord injuries, can be cured through regenerative medicine. This reflects Danny’s philosophy for life: live for today but hope for tomorrow.
In 2006, Danny became the youngest alum in the history of Syracuse University to receive the Outstanding Alumni Award. Since 2016, he has also served as an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) consultant to the university, assisting in all aspects of accessibility so that more students with disabilities can attend and contribute to its vibrant community. He loves traveling between Syracuse and Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he lives with his wife Lynn and their daughter Katie, who will be attending college next fall.