Singer Teddy Pendergrass Dies of Colon Cancer

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R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass has died in Philadelphia of colon cancer. He was 59 years old. According to his son, Teddy Pendergrass II, he had been hospitalized at Bryn Mawr Hospital after colon cancer surgery eight months ago and having a “difficult recovery.”

Teddy Pendergrass was a very popular and successful R&B singer when, at the height of his career in 1982, he was involved in a motor vehicle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. But, according to his long time friend and collaborator Kenny Gamble, “He never showed me that he was angry at all about his accident. In fact, he was very courageous.” He continued to sing and record albums, and received a Grammy Nomination.

After his accident, he dedicated much of his life to helping others with spinal cord injuries. He founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance (TPA). The mission of the organization is to encourage and assist individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI) to achieve their maximum potential in the areas of education, employment, housing, productivity, and overall independence. The group also works to overcome the negative perceptions that exist for people living with SCI.

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The organization states that the annual incidence of spinal cord injury in the United States is approximately 11,000 new cases per year. Many lose employment and independent living after their accidents.

In 2007, Teddy marked his 25th anniversary of the car crash by performing a concert called “Teddy 25: A Celebration of Life, Hope, and Possibilities”, that donated all proceeds to the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance. That same year, he was also inducted into the Spinal Cord Injury Association Hall of Fame, recognized as one of the most influential SCI activists.

"This year, believe it or not, marks the 25th anniversary of a horrific automobile accident that drastically changed my life forever," the singer announced during the concert. "Instead of being saddened by this milestone, I am deeply overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude to all the people who have helped me overcome the many fears and difficulties I would ultimately encounter as a disabled person."

To support the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, donations can be mailed to PO Box 400, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 or emailed to [email protected]

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