Meet Janne Kouri


A Message from Janne

I am thrilled to embark on the journey of a lifetime. From March 10th to May 15th, I am riding my power wheelchair from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness and funds to support the 6 million individuals and wounded service members living with paralysis in the U.S. Our team will also provide quality-of-life grants, donate medical equipment, and host charity events along our epic adventure.

You are all welcome to join me on the road and you can also participate from home by taking on a personal fitness challenge. Please see below how you can get involved and how you can follow us. Thank you all for the years of support. Without you, I would never have been able to take on this challenge and have the experience of a lifetime. Lots of love!
— Janne Kouri, founder of NextStep

VIDEO: Life after paralyzation: Janne Kouri at TEDx Venice Beach

Janne’s Story

In August 2006, Janne Kouri's life changed in a split second. An avid athlete, Janne was participating in a beach volleyball tournament. Between matches he decided to take dip in the ocean to cool off. Like so many times before, Janne ran into the water and dove through a wave. But, it was not like every other time - under the wave this time was a sandbar. Janne hit his head on that sand bar and fractured his C5 & C6 vertebrae. In an instant, he was paralyzed from the neck down.

The next thing he remembers is being told by his doctors he has no hope for recovery and he will never walk again. But the real shock was when he was told that there was not a single progressive rehab center in the state of California. After two months in ICU, in order to get the rehab services, he so desperately needed for survival, he had to move 2000 miles away to Louisville, KY.

Janne, and his girlfriend (now wife) Susan, traveled to Frazier Rehab in Louisville to participate in a cutting edge rehabilitation therapy for individuals with Spinal Cord Injury called "Locomotor Training." For twelve months Janne and Susan lived in Louisville, and under the watchful eye of his therapy team, saw great improvements in his muscle strength, movement, and general health.

Unfortunately, his insurance coverage came to an end and it was time to move back home to California. Janne quickly discovered there was not a single community facility in California or in the US that offered locomotor training. He discovered that there is a complete lack of community fitness, health, and wellness resources available to the six million people with paralysis-related disabilities in America. Six million people, that is the combined populations of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. He wondered what everyone else like him was doing.  So, with the help of his family, friends, and the guiding influence of Dr. Susie Harkema - one of the neuroscientists who created Locomotor Training & enhanced Activity Based Therapy techniques, Janne and Susan decided to start NextStep.

 NextStep is an internationally recognized non-profit that makes life-changing rehab and fitness accessible and affordable to individuals living with paralysis.

After debilitating accident, Janne Kouri fights to overcome spinal injury.