Marvin Berry Jr.
Since 1998, Marvin Berry, Jr. has inspired, supported, and led TJC, first as a client, and then as a volunteer, donor, and board member. When Marvin was seven years old, an accidental shooting left him paralyzed from the neck down. He persevered through a childhood marked by multiple surgeries and medical crises. He was poised to attend college when TennCare notified him he would be spending the rest of his life in a nursing home. TennCare told him, as it routinely told other young adults with severe disabilities, that it would no longer provide the services and supports needed to continue living in the community.
Marvin hadn’t let a bullet destroy his life, and he wasn’t going to let bureaucracy do that either. He became a plaintiff in TJC’s Newberry case, challenging the state’s practice of institutionalizing people with disabilities. A 2003 settlement in that case led to TennCare’s investment of hundreds of millions in home and community-based services, enabling thousands of Tennesseans to continue living in their homes and avoid nursing home placement.
With the support of services won in his lawsuit, Marvin attended Austin Peay State University, where he received the Valor Award and a degree in business administration. A resourceful entrepreneur, Marvin generously shares his gifts as a motivational speaker, volunteer tax preparer, and TJC Board member. Though he just left the board, he remains a valued part of TJC.