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Spinal cord injury victim inspires others to overcome challenges

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At a ceremony held at Fall River Family Services on May 4, Westport resident Martin W. Costa was named the May 2007 Hometown Hero. Bank Five and radio station WSAR sponsor this event which recognizes area citizens for outstanding volunteer deeds that better the community.

Thomas F. Lyons, BankFive president and CEO, presented Costa with the Hometown Hero Award.

“Martin is an extraordinary individual who turned his own personal adversity into an inspired effort to help others,” said Mr. Lyons. “He is well known for being a kind and generous person placing the needs of friends, even total strangers, above his own. It is an honor and a pleasure to recognize Martin as a Hometown Hero.”

Mr. Costa was chosen because of his efforts to help others, all while enduring a chronic health condition. In 1985, at the age of 28, Mr. Costa was the victim of a spinal cord injury when a tree limb fell on his back. He turned his adversity into a cause to find a cure for spinal cord injury paralysis by forming the New Bedford/Fall River chapter of the Spinal Cord Society (SCS). He used his love for music to generate funds for research by organizing a yearly Rhythm and Blues Festival and celebrity auction. He has been an advocate and inspiration to the disabled.

Mr. Costa also helped victims of Hurricane Katrina volunteering, this past November, to drive a vehicle filled with used tools, musical instruments and arts and crafts supplies to Mississippi. The car he drove was donated to a needy carpenter.

A long-time mentor for young people he was a Big Brother in the Big Brother/Big Sister Association in the early ’80s. Today he mentors a 14-year-old young man through the Big Friends/Little Friends program of Fall River Family Services. The Westport School system has called on him to mentor needy students.

Additionally Mr. Costa has found time to volunteer for Project Care delivering meals to HIV patients. He currently works part-time for Project Empower of Taunton providing counseling and support to men affected by HIV. His other efforts include involvement in the Diocese’s Emmaus Program, a spiritual retreat for young adults.

His personal struggles, and the ability to overcome them, have prompted Mr. Costa to form a motivational speaking service called MC Motivators.

“I have the tools and the experience that have allowed me to overcome my trauma. I now want to help others find and use these tools to reach their greatest potential,” he said.

Mr. Costa is also owner of MC Music Productions, a mobile DJ company that employs eight other DJs. He has donated many hours of service to groups and organizations that need, but could not afford, to hire a DJ. He does so because he says music has saved his life.

“Music has always been a great love of mine. When I found myself unable to walk and in a wheelchair, I vowed that I would dance and DJ once again.” Twenty years later, he is still going strong with his DJ business.

“I am honored and humbled to be named a Hometown Hero. I don’t see myself as an extraordinary individual, but one who believes we come into this world owed nothing. It is our duty to give back, in some small way, for all the blessings we enjoy,” he added.

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