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After being told that he would never live a normal live following a spinal cord injury, this man is riding his powered wheelchair 2,900 miles from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in order to raise money and awareness for the 6 million individuals and wounded service members in the US living with paralysis.
In 2006, Janne Kouri was paralyzed from the neck down after he suffered a spinal cord injury. He was told by countless experts that he would never recover and never lead a normal life after the accident.
After two months in intensive care and a year of rehabilitation, however, Kouri moved back to Los Angeles and immediately started a nonprofit organization called NextStep Fitness, and he has since dedicated his entire life to helping those who suffer from paralysis. He opened up the first state-of-the-art fitness and rehabilitation facility in Los Angeles in 2007, and he now has facilities in Phoenix, Atlanta, Kansas City, Orlando, Raleigh, and Las Vegas.
When asked how the ride has been going, Kouri said: “It’s been an adventure and I’m having the time of my life. Just having the opportunity to see the country from a unique perspective is amazing.
“We’ve met so many wonderful people and great organizations along the way, it’s been more than I could have ever hoped for,” he added.
On his journey east, Kouri is using a Permobil chair and a Bowhead, a special bike created for those with paralysis – and he hopes that his journey will show others with similar disabilities that they can have a very full life.
So far on his “Ride for Paralysis” journey, Kouri has thrown out the first pitch of a Cincinnati Reds game; rolled into a stadium with Rumble the Bison to deliver a half-court basketball in Oklahoma City; met with wounded veterans and team members from the Wounded Warriors Project in Phoenix, Arizona; and spoke to physical and occupational therapy students at the University of Tennessee.
The expedition has raised $290k to date with a goal of $500k by the time he arrives at his alma mater, Georgetown University, on May 15th.
WATCH Kouri’s story—and the moment he was able to stand and dance with his wife for the first time—on Good Morning America.
For more information about Kouri’s gym, his journey east, and how you can get involved and donate, you can visit the Ride for Paralysis website and follow Next Step LA on Instagram for updates from the road.
Pedal The Story Over To Your Friends By Sharing It On Social Media – Photo by Janne Kouri