From L.A. To Washington, D.C., one man is making a cross-country journey in his wheelchair for a good cause, and on Friday he made a stop in Amarillo.
Janne Kouri is riding across the country to raise money and awareness for those with paralysis. He was paralyzed himself years ago.
“I was injured in a diving accident 12 years ago, had a spinal injury, and was paralyzed,” said Kouri.
His injury made him realize how little therapy is available after you get out of the hospital and he decided to do something about it.
“So after I got out of rehab, we decided to start a nonprofit organization called NextStep Fitness, and what we do is we build and operate state of the art progressive rehab and fitness centers for people with paralysis,” said Kouri.
This journey across the country will help NextStep Fitness help more people.
“So after starting that 10 years ago we’ve opened seven centers across the United States, and our goal is to open NextStep Fitness centers nationwide and globally. The reality is a lot of people, unless you’re in this situation, you don’t realize you have gaps in the health care system. I had no idea,” said Kouri.
Kouri told us there is nothing like NextStep Fitness here in Amarillo.
“People here, once they get kicked out of the hospital, they don’t have access to rehab and fitness that they need to get healthy to get independent and truly recover,” Kouri said.
He’s not alone in his journey. Many bikers join him along the way.
“I’ve been a supporter of NextStep from the get-go. So when I heard about two years ago that he was planning to do this I wanted to jump on board and join him for a leg of it,” said biker Mark Ivcevich.
More than 6-million individuals and wounded service members are living with paralysis in the United States.
So far on the trip, Kouri has raised $183,000 to date, with a goal of $500,000.