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Historic 'Ride for Paralysis' to Begin in Manhattan Beach

Mar 08, 2019 05:55PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Ride for Paralysis' Janne Kouri at the Manhattan Beach Pier - photo via Janne Kouri

Three thousand miles from Manhattan Beach to Washington D.C. - in a wheelchair? That's the vision of Janne Kouri, an activist and organizer who will launch his "Ride for Paralysis" fundraising and awareness campaign from Manhattan Beach this weekend.

The Ride for Paralysis will kick off on Saturday night with an event hosted by sponsor Vineyard Vines (451 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Suite 114) from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

On Sunday morning, an 8:00 a.m. send-off reception at Bo Bridges Gallery will lead up to the 9:00 a.m. departure for the 3,000 mile ride.

Participants in the “Ride for Paralysis” will bike, run and roll alongside Kouri for part or the entire journey across fourteen cities over the course of two months.

During the trip, Kouri and his team will visit rehabilitation centers, universities and various communities to provide quality-of-life grants, donate much needed medical equipment, and host charity events. (A full list of Ride for Paralysis events is available here.)

In addition to raising funds, the 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. 

Kouri and his crew will arrive in Washington on May 15, at his alma mater, Georgetown University.

“The idea of riding my wheelchair from L.A. to D.C. is both exhilarating and terrifying,” said Kouri. “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 has lived with paralysis since a swimming accident more than a decade ago. 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.

In 2008 he founded the organization known as NextStep, an organization with the goal of opening paralysis recovery centers across the country to ensure an improved quality-of-life and a continuum of care for this under-served population.

By offering state-of-the-art equipment, world class certified trainers, and cutting-edge therapies, NextStep centers aim to provide the best chance for individuals to reach recovery, health, and independence.

"Ten years ago, I broke my neck in a diving accident right by the Manhattan Beach Pier and today, I am forever grateful for all the love an support of this amazing community," said Kouri.

"It is thanks to the Manhattan Beach and South Bay community that NextStep has had the opportunity to expand to six other cities across the US. And in 2019, we are opening new paralysis recovery centers in Kiev, Ukraine, and New Zealand," he continued. "You have helped our organization make a huge difference around the world in support of the millions is individuals and wounded vets living with paralysis."

Sponsors and partners of the ride include the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Vineyard Vines, Permobil, BraunAbility, BodyArmor, and Bowhead Corp.

To contribute or to follow along with Kouri's journey, visit Ride For Paralysis or follow @nextstepla on Twitter or Instagram. 

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