NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - It's hard to put into words how devastating it must feel to be told you'll never walk again. But one man decided he was not going to let his paralysis get the best of him. Instead he underwent intense therapy that got him back on his feet again. Now he's trying to help others do the same.
"I was just always raised to think positive. There's a finish word 'seesu' which is courage in the face of adversity," says Janne Kouri. "That's kind of always been my motto." Courage in the face of adversity is a motto that took on new meaning for Kouri after a life-changing accident nearly 10 years ago. "In 2006 I was playing volleyball at the beach and went for a swim and I hit a sandbar and was instantly paralyzed," Kouri says.
Kouri was paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors told the native New Yorker that he had no hope for recovery and that he would never walk again. But with the help of a groundbreaking form of therapy called locomotor training, which allows those with spinal cord injuries to practice standing and stepping using body weight support, he proved them wrong.
"About a year and a half after my injury I was able to walk with a walker for the first time," Kouri says. "And a year after that, I could stand for a minute or two on my own, and then was eventually able to have that finally have the dance with my wife our wedding dance a couple years after our wedding."
Now Kouri has dedicated his life to helping others living with paralysis. He started a nonprofit organization called NextStep and founded a state-of-the art paralysis rehab facility in Los Angeles. His goal is to open another one in our area.
"We're raising money to build a facility in New York at Stony Brook University, so people here with my situation can have access to the best rehab in the world," Kouri says.
Next step is holding a charity poker tournament Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Pier A Harbor House in Battery Park City. It is called "Help Make a Difference."