Man's Miracle Recovery: From Paralyzed to Helping Others


Janne Kouri Stands Up to Help Others

Full of hope, Kouri wanted to return to California and continue loco-motor training near his home, but it wasn't available.

"We brought this to my father and my family and my friends saying 'Hey, we need to do something about the situation. I can't find the type of treatment and rehab that I want in California," he said. "That means that nobody there can."

That sparked a big idea. With the help of family, friends, Harkema and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, in 2007, they raised the funds to start NextStep Fitness, a non-profit rehab center in Los Angeles where not only Kouri, but anyone in the community could get locomotor training at an affordable cost.

The nonprofit wing of their organization has blossomed as well, launching the Wheelchair for a Day Challenge in a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the daily challenges associated with paralysis, and to raise funding to help build additional rehab centers across the country.

Many have compared Kouri and Moffat's commitment to helping others to Christopher and Dana Reeve and see their work as a continuation of Reeve's legacy.

"They're an incredible couple, an incredible family, he's obviously an inspiration and somebody I look up to," Kouri said. "He didn't quit till the day he died. And you know, I'm going to take that same mentality into my fight as well. "

Between rounds of rehab, Kouri and Susan turned their tragedy into a future together and got married.

"She's been amazing," Kouri said. "She's quit her job two times and she sacrificed a lot in her life to stay with me. Most relationships don't make it through this situation, so I'm blessed. She an incredible woman and a wonderful wife and I wouldn't be here without her."

Kouri's Emotional Milestone

In May 2009, Kouri took his first steps in three years with the assistance of a walker. He told "Good Morning America"'s Robin Roberts about reaching the incredible milestone at the time.

"You hear it all the time, but if you put your mind to it, you can make it happen. But you know it's true that if you stay focused and work every single day, you really can do whatever you set your mind to," he said.

Roberts visited Kouri in February for his most recent milestone: standing for the first time, on his own, without his walker.

"I forget how tall I was," he joked with Roberts.

But the best was yet to come, Kouri wanted to stand again and this time, he had a surprise up his sleeve: giving his wife the wedding dance she never had.

"It went from wiggling my toe to gaining more function in my legs and [being] able to then walk on a walker, and to now being able to stand independently for a short period of time," Kouri said. "From there, the sky's the limit, so we'll be walkin' one day soon."

Click here for more information on Next Step Fitness and their first-ever Wheelchair for a Day challenge .

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