Hank Carter is the first African-American to have a hospital in New York City named after him.
Carter, a Vietnam veteran, began Wheelchair Charities in the early ’70s after his best friend Jada was shot while coming out of a store in Queens, resulting in permanent paralysis.
Carter spent his time raising money to purchase basketball uniforms and other equipment for kids in the Queensbridge community. When he visited the hospital on Roosevelt Island, he noticed that scores of paralyzed patients had no wheelchairs. Carter then began a campaign to raise money to buy wheelchairs for the hospital. Cookie sales and other fundraisers became part of his program. Then he thought about charity basketball games.
Thus, the Wheelchair Basketball Classic, a tournament featuring teams from all five boroughs, was born. In that first game, Bernard King scored the first-ever jump shot. The Wheelchair Basketball Classic has become an annual event.
Carter then talked Madison Square Garden into sponsoring an annual All-Star game featuring NBA stars. Howard White, an executive at Nike, became involved and still remains involved today.
Over the years, the first vans came rolling in, which enabled the hospital patients to leave the island to attend Broadway shows and do other activities.
Over the years, Carter and his friends, NBA stars and Nike have contributed millions of dollars, enabling Wheelchair Charities to purchase the industry-leading equipment. Wheelchair Charities has become the leading organization in the country associated with patient care for thousands over the years.