Janne Kouri’s ‘Ride for Paralysis’After over 2,900 miles and 66 days riding across America in his power wheelchair and electric trike, Janne Kouri, a C6 quad, rode into Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., on May 15 having raised almost $350,000 for fitness and quality of life grants for individuals with paralysis.

Kouri, the founder of NextStep, one of the country’s largest and most innovative functional rehabilitation networks for paralysis, set out from his Los Angeles home on March 10 to raise awareness and money via what he dubbed the Ride for Paralysis. The endeavor surpassed his expectations both as an adventure and a fundraiser. “It’s such an adrenaline rush, being on the road every day and being able to do it with so many close friends — it’s been amazing,” said Kouri while on the road. “Seeing the United States from such a unique perspective is incredible, and the best part about it is all the different people we’re meeting along the way. It’s so inspiring and really wonderful.”

Kouri founded NextStep in 2008 with the goal of improving access to secondary rehabilitation and fitness for people living with paralysis. There are currently seven NextStep paralysis recovery centers around the United States. Between his Permobil F5 wheelchair and a Bowhead Reach electric trike, Kouri averaged 60 miles a day. Along the way, the Ride for Paralysis team also awarded individuals with quality of life grants so they can afford memberships to NextStep rehab centers.

The team also donated medical equipment and hosted local events, often partnering with United Spinal Association and its VetsFirst division to help build support and awareness in the communities it visited. “The whole point of this trip has been to raise awareness about the lack of resources that people living with paralysis have across the country. The vast majority of communities and cities we’re going through don’t have anything like a NextStep,” he says. “United Spinal has been amazing in getting the word out and helping us to, hopefully in the future, bring services to those communities.”

Kouri will be speaking about his journey at this year’s Roll on Capitol Hill. To learn more about the Ride for Paralysis, visit:
rideforparalysis.pelicon.com