Janne Kouri, President and founder of NextStep (Next Step Fitness
), will embark on a 3,000 mile wheelchair journey in order to raise funds and awareness for the six million individuals and wounded service members living with paralysis in the U.S.
Lauren and other participants in the “Ride for Paralysis” fundraising and awareness campaign will bike, run and roll alongside Kouri for part or the entire journey across fourteen cities–from Los Angeles, CA to Washington DC–over the course of two months. If joining in the cross-country trip is not an option, Kouri encourages Ride for Paralysis participants to create their own challenge at home to raise funds and awareness. Throughout the course of the trip, Kouri and his dedicated team will visit rehabilitation centers, universities and various communities to provide quality-of-life grants, donate much needed medical equipment, and host charity events.
“The idea of riding my wheelchair from LA to DC is both exhilarating and terrifying,” said Janne Kouri, President and founder of NextStep Fitness and Ride for Paralysis host. “The journey will be a true test of endurance, strength and camaraderie but we will have a lot of fun along the way. I am looking forward to the unknown, the daily challenges, meeting new people, and experiencing this amazing country from such a unique perspective.”
Kouri embraces the NextStep motto ‘SISU’, a Finnish word meaning: “strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity” having lived with paralysis since August 2006. After being forced to move 2,000 miles to access the rehab services he needed to survive, he pledged to bring a better solution to those living with paralysis and founded NextStep.
“Janne’s passion and determination is clearly visible in the work that he and the NextStep team are doing every day. Permobil is very excited to partner with Janne for the LA to DC Ride for Paralysis and can’t wait to meet the team during their journey,” said Richard Foshee, Director Creative Services at Permobil Inc.
Today, a vast majority of the six million individuals with paralysis are unable to receive quality progressive rehab since insurance on average only covers thirty-six therapy days.
It is NextStep’s mission to make life-changing rehab accessible and affordable to those living with paralysis. In addition to raising funds, NextStep’s Ride for Paralysis campaign hopes to raise awareness about the lack of adequate healthcare and affordable rehabilitation services for people living with paralysis and the accessibility issues they face on a daily basis.
“BraunAbility is honored to support the Ride for Paralysis alongside Janne and his amazing team of advocates,” said Chris Carlisle, BraunAbility Vice President of Consumer Marketing. “Together we can show the world that empowerment over paralysis or any physical disability is possible with access to quality care and support.
The Ride for Paralysis kicks off in Manhattan Beach, CA with an event hosted by sponsor vineyard vines at their Manhattan Beach store (451 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Suite 114) from 4-6 p.m. on March 9th and a send-off reception at Bo Bridges Gallery on March 10th.
“I couldn’t be prouder to support Janne. He’s all the things we wish we could be: kind, strong, determined and loyal. He inspires me to do more with less and raise those up around me - after all that’s what he’s always done. I’m lucky to have been friends with Janne for over three decades and like so many other crazy adventures we’ve been on - this is just one more example of his quiet leadership and inspiring actions,” said Ian Murray, CEO and Founder of vineyard vines.
NextStep will be hosting various charity events in Joshua Tree, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Nashville, Raleigh, and Washington, D.C. The trip culminates May 15 at Georgetown University, Janne’s alma mater.
NextStep is an internationally recognized non-profit that makes life-changing rehab and fitness accessible and affordable to individuals living with paralysis. Founded in 2008 by Janne Kouri, NextStep’s vision is to open paralysis recovery centers across the country to ensure an improved quality-of-life and a continuum of care for this underserved population. By offering state-of-the-art equipment, world class certified trainers, and cutting-edge therapies, NextStep centers provide the best chance for recovery, health, and independence.
NextStep's paralysis recovery centers are located in Los Angeles (HQ), Atlanta, Orlando, Kansas City, Raleigh, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.