Will You Sit in the “Hot Seat” and Stand Up for Those Who Can’t?


Darrell Gwynn had an idea a number of years ago of a great way to get people to better understand the challenges of daily life in a wheelchair and raise awareness and funds for paralysis research.  He kept waiting for the best time to put all the pieces together and last year it happened and the Darrell Gwynn Wheelchair Challenge was born and has been off to the races ever since.  The fist iteration of the challenge was done in September of 2020 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the ADA, the 30th year since Darrell’s paralyzing accident, and because September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.

The first year was a resounding success, raising nearly $400,000 for paralysis research, and had a prestigious group of people from the world of sports and business take the challenge.  Nearly thirty people took the challenge highlighted by NASCAR personalities Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Kelley Earnhardt and Bill Elliot. On the business and entertainment side we had businessmen Pete Coors from Coors Brewing and Johnny Morris from Bass Pro Shops, WWE personality Bill Goldberg and dozens of others who choose to Stand Up for Those Who Can’t.

The 2021 version of the Challenge is well underway and should equal or better the original year’s efforts in fundraising and awareness.  Once our participant agrees to join our team and take the Darrell Gwynn Wheelchair Challenge, we have a Challenge specific wheelchair delivered to them.  Each participant sits in the chair and spends some time trying to do every day, normal things in their home or office.  We ask them to have someone video them doing the everyday things, and then describe how it feels to have this barrier in their daily lives. The participants are then asked to challenge one of their friends or colleagues to sit in the “Hot Seat” and take the challenge. The idea is to convey how it feels to be unable to perform everyday tasks that many take for granted.  The challenges faced by our friends in wheelchairs are enormous and, without a cure, permanent.  This has been the reality for Darrell for more than 30 years. It is had been his hope that this effort will get people to understand much more about the challenges faced by millions like him around the world living life in a wheelchair.

To make this effort successful, we asked each of our participants to share their experiences via their social media. To see what has been posted to date, search the hashtag #DGWheelchairChallenge and look at our social profiles for some examples. They are Facebook: @cureparalysis Instagram: @TheMiamiProject and Twitter: @BuonicontiFund.

GOAL: $1,000,000          CURRENT TOTAL: $533,919

as of 12/14/2021

Darrell Gwynn Wheelchair Challenge
Darrell Gwynn Wheelchair Challenge
Darrell Gwynn Wheelchair Challenge

Participants agree to sit in the “Hot Seat” and we will arrange to have a wheelchair delivered to you for the challenge.  We ask that you sit in it and spend some time trying to do every day, normal things in your home or office.  While you do these things, you will need to have someone video you as you describe how it feels to have this barrier in your life.  Next you will need to challenge one of your friends to sit in the “Hot Seat” for a day.

The idea is to convey how it feels to lose, temporarily, a key function nearly everyone takes for granted – mobility and get the public at large to understand the challenges we face on a daily basis. This has been the reality for Darrell for more than 30 years, and millions of others around the world.  It is our hope that this effort will get people to understand a little bit more about the challenges millions face each day.

This is a life and perspective-changing experience, and the awareness and funds raised will aid in finding a cure for paralysis.

  • By committing you agree to donate, or raise, a minimum of $10,000 to get out of the “Hot Seat” and pass it on to a friend or colleague who will do the same and will be as passionate as you are.
  • You commit to participate in a videotaped testimonial (a few minutes should suffice) reflecting your personal experience of your time spent in a wheelchair.
  • You also agree to pay it forward by directly identifying/challenging the next participant.
  • To make this successful we’ll need you to share your experience with social and traditional media.
  • You agree to allow The Miami Project/Buoniconti Fund to share these activities on their social and traditional media outlets.
  • In addition to the money raised, one of the keys to this initiative is to get as many eyeballs on it as possible so it’s important that we involve your social media accounts and, if you’re comfortable, traditional media. It’s extremely important that you tag our organizational social media pages when posting your video.  They are Facebook: @cureparalysis Instagram: @TheMiamiProject and on Twitter: @BuonicontiFund. Use the hashtags #DGWheelchairChallenge #StandUpForThoseWhoCant #TheMiamiProject #SCIAwarenessMonth #ADA30

Following your stint in the “Hot Seat” it’s important that you let us know who you will nominate and how best to reach them so that we can make sure they have all the information needed to complete the challenge. The object is to get this wheelchair to get in the hands of as many people as possible so that the Challenge can continue throughout the month of September and beyond….


Thanks to our friends who have committed to take the Darrell Gwynn Wheelchair Challenge and sit in the “Hot Seat”

  • Rick Allen
  • RJ Anderson
  • Robert Arrington
  • Guy Brickman (State Farm Insurance)
  • Antron Brown (NHRA)
  • Steve Bryson (Musician)
  • George Cable (Cable Marine)
  • Ron Capps
  • Richard Childress
  • Pete Coors (Coors Brewing Company)
  • Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock World Champion)
  • Jason Coulter
  • Joe Coulter
  • Joey Coulter
  • Laura Coulter
  • Alexis DeJoria
  • Marko Dimitrijevic
  • Michelle and Terry Duke (Duke Masonry)
  • Kelley Earnhardt
  • Bill Elliot (NASCAR)
  • Ray Evernham
  • Chip Foose
  • John Force
  • John Fox
  • Richard Freeman
  • Brendan Gaughn
  • Bill Goldberg (WWE)
  • Noah Gragson
  • Dr. Barth Green (The Miami Project)
  • Chad Green
  • Denny Hamlin
  • Courtney Hanson
  • Mike Helton
  • Andy Hill
  • Paul Lee
  • Joe McDonnell
  • Larry McReynolds
  • Johnny Morris (Bass Pro Shops)
  • Ryan Newman (Daytona 500 Champion)
  • Brian Nicholoff
  • Jeff Owen (Josco Sales)
  • Max Papis
  • Don Prudhomme
  • Bobby Rahal
  • Pat Riley
  • Gary Scelzi
  • Tom Sheehan (Sheehan Autoplex)
  • Tony Stewart (NASCAR Champion)
  • Steve Torrence (NHRA World Champion)
  • Robert “Vanilla Ice” Van Winkle
  • Troy Vincent
  • Darrell Waltrip (NASCAR Champion)
  • Michael Waltrip
  • Doug Yates