When 17-year Lani Deauville dove from a seawall on a Jacksonville, Florida, beach in 1958, it didn't seem particularly risky. After all, the athletic champion diver was used to diving from bridges, racing cars at high speeds and generally, as Deauville remembers, "performing any scary activity I could think of" With this particular dive into shallow water, however, Deauville slammed hard into the ocean floor, breaking the fourth, fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae in her neck.
Deauville was paralyzed from the neck down. "If you broke your neck in the 1950s," explains Deauville, "you died. If you survived the initial injury, the life expectancy of a quadriplegic back then was five years." Quadriplegics typically have to battle of variety of health complications, including urinary tract infections, pneumonia, central nervous-system infections, gastrointestinal ulcerations, osteoporosis and bowel blockages.
Deauville refused to accept her fate. She changed from a neurosurgeon to an orthopedic surgeon when the neurosurgeon wouldn't recommend surgery to stabilize her neck, because he thought her case was hopeless. After getting neck-stabilization surgery and spending a year and a half in the hospital fighting skin ulcers, spasms and infections, Deauville became the first quadriplegic patient of the State of Florida's Vocational Rehabilitation Agency.
Over the next few years, Deauville pursued an education with the same level of drive that used to propel her adrenaline-soaked youth. She obtained her GED, entered Daytona Beach Community College and then went on to earn her undergraduate degree at the University of South Florida – all at a time when quadriplegics usually stayed home and out of sight. Lack of disability-friendly ramps and facilities sometimes meant that Deauville had to hire strong assistants to carry her up and down stairs. After graduating with honors, she was accepted to the University of Alabama to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology.
During her eight years as a student, Deauville continued to battle critical illnesses that kept her hospitalized at least once a year. A dangerous infection ultimately led her to leave school and focus on regaining her health and earning income.
Following stints as a rehabilitation psychologist and then as a coordinator in the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitation Services, Deauville helped write universal-access legislation for disabled people that became law in 1974 in Florida and was adopted in part by the federal government.
"Now that the United States is more accessible to persons in wheelchairs, a physically disabled person can go nearly anywhere." In 1976, Deauville and her husband Jude were invited to the White House by President Ford, who honored her as "Disabled Employee of the Year."
In 1980, Deauville became the first female and disabled person to be the Director of the Florida State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency – the very agency that was responsible with her own rehabilitation years before.
But the recurring illnesses that tend to plague quadriplegics were attacking with increasing frequency, and were exacerbated by the fact that a very busy Deauville wasn't eating healthy food or getting enough exercise. In 1987, after retirement, she broke a hip and suffered from several infections. "Each hospitalization saw me ending up worse off than before," she remembers.
Everything changed in the late 80s when Lani's husband, Jude's brother-in-law, Sam Graci, a Canadian biochemist, had been developing a highly nutritious "green drink" made up of superfoods that he thought might help improve Deauville's health. "Sam used me as his favorite guinea pig," says Deauville.
He continued to refine the powder into a supplement – mixable with juice or water – that became known as Greens Plus. "I've been supplementing my food intake with this formula for 19 years," says Deauville, "and it has totally transformed my life and health. After suffering numerous hospitalizations for more than 30 years, I can say that I've not had a major illness in years, and I am healthier today than I've ever been."
Greens Plus is a whole food supplement consisting of 29 enzymatically alive foods. Each serving of Greens+ is equal to five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables. It helps to support the immune system, provide increased natural energy, strengthens mental acuity and cleanses and detoxifies the body.
In 1991, Jude A Deauville & his wife Lani began distributing Greens Plus to their family and friends, and – eventually – to health-food and healthcare professionals in 19 countries worldwide. Today, a variety of other supplemental products based on Greens Plus are available, including the Chia™ product for cooking (see recipes).
Given up for dead more than 50 years ago, Deauville has managed to beat the odds. In the process, she's lived a fulfilling life that has included improving opportunities for other disabled. At 70, she credits her longevity to healthy eating, Greens Plus supplements and exercise (she lifts weights twice a week and swims regularly). Along with all of Lani's other achievements, she has been awarded with the Guinness World Record for longest living quadriplegic!
"In retrospect, I wouldn't exchange five minutes of my life with anyone. I am living a wonderfully blessed life."
With no regrets, Lani passed away peacfully at her home in July of 2012. To read her obituary, please click here.