Villanova University’s Office of Disability Services Presents the 2018 Father Bill Atkinson Humanitarian Award to Brian Muscarella, ’80 VSB

Villanova University’s Office of Disability Services Presents the 2018 Father Bill Atkinson Humanitarian Award to Brian Muscarella, ’80 VSB

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University’s Office of Disability Services will present the sixth annual Fr. Bill Atkinson, OSA, Humanitarian Award to Brian Muscarella, ’80 VSB. The ceremony will take place on Thursday, February 8 at 7 p.m. in the Connelly Center Cinema.

The award seeks to recognize an individual, group or organization that exemplifies the spirit and service that Fr. Atkinson embodied throughout his life. Fr. Atkinson was the first quadriplegic to be ordained as a priest in the history of the Catholic Church.

Muscarella suffered a spinal stroke in 2011 that left him paralyzed, but has dedicated his life to helping those with disabilities. He is currently the President of the Villanova University Club of Charlotte and recently joined the Villanova University Alumni Board of Directors. During his time as president, the Club of Charlotte has as raised $200,000 for student scholarships and the Club of Charlotte Scholarship Endowment Fund. He is also actively involved with the Adaptive Sports and Adventure Program (ASAP), where he has raised over $200,000 in the last six years. Muscarella also enjoys hand cycling, quad rugby, water skiing and snow skiing. Prior to his injury, Muscarella had a 27-year career as Managing Director specializing in Executive Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans and Group Insurance for The Equitable/AXA Advisors and New York Life.

"I'm so honored to have been thought of for such a meaningful award and I am very humbled to be considered given the previous recipients,” said Muscarella. “" Raising awareness for people with disabilities is of the utmost importance and Villanova should be applauded for the tremendous work they are doing to continually change people's perception of the disabled."

Previous award recipients have included Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, a mother-daughter duo and survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing; former Rutgers University football player Eric LeGrand, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury during a game in 2010; and ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi, who featured former Villanova Men’s and Women’s basketball managers, Frank Kineavy and Nick Gaynor, both of whom have cerebral palsy, when ESPN’s College Gameday came to campus in 2011.

“This year, we knew it was time to bring this wonderful award back home,” said Gregory Hannah, assistant director of the Office of Disability Services at Villanova. “We’ve presented this award to some great people in previous years, but the opportunity to honor an alumnus who embraces our mission to change the way people see ability is very exciting. Brian fits the bill perfectly about what it means to be a Villanovan and supportive of our efforts in the Office of Disability Services and with the student group LEVEL.”

The 2018 Fr. Bill Atkinson Humanitarian Award is part of the annual NOVABILITY WEEK celebration.

Fr. Atkinson, who passed away in 2006, is being considered for canonization to become a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Injured in an accident in 1965 that left him a quadriplegic, Atkinson was ordained in 1974 and taught at Monsignor Bonner High School in Drexel Hill, Pa. for nearly 30 years.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit