Eight days after his eighteenth birthday, Toney Lineberry was involved in a life-threatening automobile crash. He suffered a broken neck that left him permanently paralyzed from the chest down. After being in the hospital for a year (including three months on life support) and in rehabilitation centers, he was faced with serious choices. He had to learn to live with a permanent disability and could do so with an attitude of defeat or triumph. Toney chose to live triumphantly, and success has followed accordingly.
After graduating high school as a functional illiterate, barely able to read or write, Toney has become a nationally recognized motivational speaker and scholar. Toney was a champion wrestler in high school and admits that his focus was mostly on his sports career, cars and girls. Academics, at the time, were simply not his priority. But after the crash, Toney realized that “not being able to read or write was a greater disability than not being able to walk.”
He elected to address his lack of skills and enrolled at J. Sargent Reynolds Community College (JSRCC). There he maintained a 4.0 grade point average. Toney then received a full scholarship to Randolph-Macon College (RMC) in Ashland, Virginia. At RMC, he attained two full degrees and a minor. Following his induction into Phi Beta Kappa and graduating Magna Cum Laude, Toney received another full scholarship to the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Law as a Dillard Scholar. Again, he was a successful student and received his Juris Doctor in May of 1999.
During this time, Toney Lineberry was not only a graduate student, he was also a father to triplets! Toney is active and influential in his children’s lives. He was considered a “fixture” at their track and wrestling meets, as well as other school events during high school and he continues to support them in college. Toney is a devoted parent and serves as a powerful inspiration.
Shortly after graduating from UVA, Toney began teaching law classes at his alma mater, JSRCC, where he continues to serve as an adjunct faculty member teaching Tort Law. Toney has inspired that academic community with highly contagious enthusiasm and his evident love of life. His classes are popular and his teaching is consistently supported by a foundation of care and inspiration.
His audience and topics go way beyond the college classroom. Toney has traveled throughout North America delivering motivational speeches about life, highway safety and staying positive. Toney customizes his messages to meet the needs of each group he speaks to encouraging his listeners to acknowledge life’s harsh realities while also focusing on its positive aspects.
Toney has delivered his message to many audiences including high school students, corporate and civic organizations and military personnel in thirty-six states and two provinces of Canada. He has reached over one million people directly. Toney has a unique ability to relate to people of all ages with his inspiring story and charming sense of compassion and gratitude.
For such noble efforts, Toney Lineberry has received innumerable awards. His most cherished is having been named one of ten outstanding young Americans by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce in 2000 (the TOYA award). In addition, Toney has been named the Virginia Rehabilitant of the Year and was also awarded the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Award for Public Service.
Another highlight in such acknowledgements concerns the Olympic Games’ torch. Toney had the distinct honor of being a torchbearer during the 2002 Olympic Torch Relay. Further, in the spring of 2003, Toney was inducted into the Hermitage High School Athletic Hall of Fame where he was an undefeated wrestler just before his accident.
In 2006, Governor Kain re-appointed Toney as Chair of the Disabilities Services Council. In 2009, he was appointed to the State Rehabilitation Council, where he currently serves as Chair. In this capacity, Toney is able to work with a dedicated group that assist and support disabled individuals throughout the state.
Toney is also well recognized in academic settings and served as the keynote speaker at the JSRCC graduation ceremony in 2004. He also recently spoke to the American Legion’s Virginia Girls’ State group where he remains the most commonly invited motivational speaker. He has been requested repeatedly and has received annual invitations to return. It has always been one of his most favored speaking venues.