Washington Man Builds Career at Goodwill after Undergoing Devastating Accident

Rockville, MD — Goodwill Industries International has named Chad Christman its 2011 Achiever of the Year for building a life for himself after sustaining life-altering injuries in a car accident when he was a baby. During his developmental years, Christman spent two years in the hospital, suffered medical illnesses such as pneumonia, and received ongoing medical care from a childhood hospital until he was 18.
When he was just four months old, Christman was involved in a car accident and was thrown out of the car window and landed underneath a tire. At such a young age, he had only begun learning to maneuver in his walker, but that was the first and last time that he ever walked. After the accident, he was put in a brace, underwent physical therapy and grew up using a wheelchair due to the severe scoliosis he developed from the accident. It was during those formative years that Christman developed a keen interest in computers. He built his own computer system and network at home and taught himself advanced applications.
As a young adult, he dabbled in some college courses, but it wasn’t until he sought help at Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest (Spokane, WA) seven years ago that he truly found his calling. He was placed in an assembly position to start, but while in that assignment, the staff specialist approached the IT manager and made him aware of Christman’s capabilities. He then received two years of training as a program participant within the IT department, then became a Goodwill employee in 2005 and was promoted to IT administrator in 2010. Today, he is one of the most well-known employees at Goodwill and spends his days performing back-ups of hard drives, processing and repairing donated computers, and interacting with more than 230 users, including employees and program participants throughout eastern Washington and northern Idaho, about the technology they rely on to do their jobs.
“Other employers just saw my chair,” said Christman. “Goodwill saw what I could do. Goodwill helped me develop expertise in Microsoft SharePoint and other networking programs, enabling me to perform my job, and today I am able to do what I like best — interact with people of all levels.”
Through Goodwill training, Christman was able to grow professionally in his technical skills, including receiving A+ and NetPlus certifications, learning to administer networks, and setting up intranet sites. Goodwill also accommodated his medical issues by building a custom cart that connects to his wheelchair so that he can carry computers and monitors to offices.
“Chad’s personal transformation from service recipient to service provider is a testament to Goodwill’s mission,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “His newly found independence is a demonstration of what Goodwill is all about — to find dignity and pride through the power of work.”
“Goodwill believed in me and my future, and now I have a job I love and can help others,” Christman said.
Goodwill Industries International’s Achiever of the Year is a person who has shown great progress and accomplishment in overcoming challenges to finding employment, and who still benefits from the Goodwill work environment or receives services to support employment at a community site.