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Fr. Bill Atkinson, O.S.A. Humanitarian Award

M. Brian Muscarella, VSB, '80

M. Brian Muscarella, VSB ‘80

2018 Father Bill Atkinson, O.S.A. 
Humanitarian Award Recipient

After a 27-year career as a Managing Director specializing in Executive Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans and Group Insurance for The Equitable/AXA Advisors and New York Life, Brian’s direction in life changed dramatically.  In 2011, he suffered a spinal stroke that rendered him paralyzed. 

Since that day, Brian has dedicated his life to helping others that have been afflicted with a disability.    A strong advocate for disability awareness in the community, Brian frequently speaks at local schools, organizations, area rehabilitation centers, and his beloved Villanova University.  He has been featured in local magazines, newspapers, and news stations.  He is a member of the Peer Mentoring Group at Carolinas Rehabilitation Center (CRC), Charlotte, NC that meets regularly with patients to counsel them on the transition to living an active productive life with a disability.  CRC recently asked him to speak at the Hearts for Rehab banquet to help raise funds for the center and he was featured in the hospital’s 75th Anniversary documentary filmed by PBS.

Brian is actively involved in the Adaptive Sports and Adventure Program (ASAP) that enables people with various levels of disability to regain their lives through sports activities.  Handcycling, quad rugby, water skiing, and snow skiing have all played an integral part in his recovery.  Brian consistently finishes on the podium in handcycle races throughout the country.  He participates in ASAP’s semi-annual Cycle to the Sea, 180 and 240 miles in three days, over the last six years, and has raised over $205,000 to continue and expand these invaluable programs. 

Brian serves on the Advisory Board of ASAP, Carolina Crash Board, Treasury of the ASAP Cycling Team and is President of the Villanova University | Club of Charlotte.  He has been on the Club of Charlotte’s Leadership Council since 2004 and received the VUAA Leadership Award in 2013.  The Club received the Rev. Ray Jackson Community Service Award in 2014.  During his tenure as President, the Club of Charlotte has raised $200,000 for student scholarships and the Club of Charlotte Scholarship Endowment Fund. In 2017 Brian was nominated to the Villanova Alumni Board of Directors and was inducted into the St. John Vianney High School Hall of Honor for excelling in Christian Services in the community. He resides in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Carol, daughters, Leigh, and Laura, and their granddaughter M.E. 

2019 Fr. Bil Atkinson Award Winners

The Office of Disability Services at Villanova University is proud to announce the recipients of the 2019 Father Bill Atkinson Humanitarian Award, Michael and Debbie Gaynor. This award recognizes persons who have made an impact on the lives of those in the disability community.

The Gaynors represent the true spirit of Father Bill Atkinson, who at a young age, became a quadriplegic after a toboggan accident. Father Bill went on to teach at Monsignor Bonner High School for 35 years where he influenced thousands of students with his deep Christian example.

Michael and Debbie are the proud parents of three children. Their twin sons were born with Cerebral Palsy and their dedication to their family and the disability community mirrors the values and spirit of Father Bill.