Please show me how much you love me and support the run of my life!
I am running the 2012 NYC Marathon because I CAN (let's hope!), because I SHOULD and BECAUSE OTHERS WHO REALLY WANT TO CAN’T! I am running this damn thing to not only raise funds and awareness for NextStep and all it does for those living with paralysis, but to honor people who have made a difference in my and Janne's journey. Each mile I run will be dedicated to people who have inspired us, educated us, supported us and provided us hope in this 6.5 year marathon we've been on. Our mission to help others living with paralysis live better, healthier and with hope to live the lives they were meant to live, to be the people they were always supposed to be, not limited by those four (or six!) wheels.
This list is most certainly not exhaustive and some people may never even know they made this list and one person in particular(#13) will never know the impact he has had on our lives.
Mile 1 YOU! Because you are going to donate and help me exceed my goal of $5k. Help me blow that goal out of the water! Thank you because you are going to send this on to everyone you know and tell them how awesome NSF is and how much you care about the cause and it would mean so much to YOU if they cared about the work we do too! Because you shouldn't wait until it happens to you to care. Spend a day with someone living with paralysis, take the challenge and spend a day in a wheelchair and you will catch a glimpse into how come it just shouldn't have to be this way. And thank you so much for being a part of this race and fundraise.
Mile 2 David Brinkley, John Murray & Mrs. Murray - where it all began...post the breaking the neck part!….David Brinkley led me to John Murray who led me to his mom. Mrs. Murray was able to connect us to the next person on this list who was the conduit to my hope to carry us forward.
Mile 3 Tricia Brooks - one quick phone call and one Janne Kouri testimonial email and within about 24 hours she connected me to the woman who would become our grounding through our medical journey.
Mile 4 Dr. Susan Harkema - the first person to offer us hope for recovery and treat Janne as something other than a victim of statistics. Who knew a dorky scientist with no reason to make this her life calling would become one of our closest friends?! We instantly bonded with this woman. I look forward to the day that I can say I am personal friends with the woman responsible for curing paralysis. I cannot think of any appropriate way to thank you for all you have done.
Mile 5 Janne Kouri - I am dedicating mile 5 to my husband. I'm just hitting my stride in mile 5, warm up over, feeling really good(fingers crossed!). This is what I owe you and will always strive to give you. You are a great man with an amazing sense of optimism and undying loyalty. Thank you. I love you!
Mile 6 My whole family. There are a lot of them, but I cannot thank them enough for doing what our family always manages to do for one another: just be there, do what ever the situation requires in that moment and always move forward.
Mile 7 Lee, AG, Greg - Our brothers, sons, friends!….you guys were a little bit of everything and heaven sent! Exactly what Janne needed in getting through the days in Louisville, both physically and mentally. You all were so much fun, responsible, trustworthy, loving. This is the team that gave me comfort and I never worried about leaving him with(other than after finding out Greg couldn't stand the suctioning…almost passing out over the littlest thing, c'mon Gwegory!). You are forever part of our lives and so happy to have you as our friends.
Mile 8 Dr. Stevens, Belinda, Venita, & all the 6th & 10th floor PTs & OTs & nurses, the whole Frazier staff - after having visited 2 other supposed "top" centers in the country, you guys are the top! We would have been miserable anywhere else. Thank you, thank you, thank you for welcoming 2 liberal(by KY standards!) Californians into your family and being willing to become part of ours forever.
Mile 9 Dick Hillenbrand - you made my days & nights go by more quickly when you visited. You brought back the blow up toaster…even though Janne didn't think it was as great as we did! You are a true gem of a human and saved me so many times.
Mile 10 Chicago Crew - You guys were our first six digit fund raiser and each year it gets better! You are so helpful and supportive to us as friends and to making NSF move forward from year to year. Burns, Callahan, Dwyer, Hickey, Skoglund and Turnbull families, Anderson Bell and so many others, this list could go on forever. Such a wonderful, supportive community. You always make us feel so welcome each year. You continue to change the lives of all of our clients whom you may never meet. Please go about your days with that in mind and smile. Thank you all.
Mile 12 Brunswick Crew - It's amazing how close you all have stayed. I think Janne joined in the 6th grade and the fact that you all have stayed so close through all of these years is wonderful. From all the visits, letters, goodie boxes in the hospital, to the huge box of VV giveaways to keep the nurses & Drs on our side…I thank you. To the Brunswick family who showed themselves after the accident, thank you for caring.
Mile 13 Mystery man who pulled Janne out of the surf - thought lucky #13 was the spot for him. I hope we are able to meet him some day. So, if this gets around and you pulled a man out of the surf in Manhattan Beach on August 5, 2006 please, please, please reach out to us.
Mile 14 Mr Kouri - Thank you for loving Janne so deeply and for raising such a great person. I appreciate and am grateful for all that you did for us to get us through the the darkest times. You are missed.
Mile 15 Girlfriends - Thank you all for your support and patience. The long talks, advice and visits. Laughter was the best medicine! I am so lucky to have you all in my life. Li, La, Kathryn, Lindley, Katie, Erica, Roma, Kate, Samara, Laura….and I'm sure I'm missing someone…don't hate me! xoxo.
Mile 16 DC/Georgetown Crew - Thanks for your help and patience during my first(& happily last) fantasy football draft. Pressure was on! You are all amazing friends and supporters of what we are trying to do. I will never forget Hermo carrying Janne(& his wheelchair) on his back during 80 degree heat around Del & Ali’s wedding. Ice & family, thank you so much for caring and staying involved when you have so much going on in your own life.
Mile 17 Hermosa Crew - Thanks for taking the foosball tourney on the road that year so JPK could be part of the tradition and for helping us figure out how to get around and make do when we moved back to the HB. I am so grateful for your ongoing support and friendship.
Mile 18 NSF Staff - Taking the reigns, responsible for passing on that hope I talked about in mile 3. You have no idea the impact you all have on people's lives. You might think you know a little bit, but you really have no idea. I know what it is like to be in need of that hope so badly, just when you feel like you are suffocating and about to go under. And there you all are, smiling, happy, serving up the hope(the evidence based kind, not the fake kind that comes wrapped in plastic and false promises!). And you are the hottest angels in the biz! Annual pin-up calendar hot! ; )
Mile 19 Monsif, Eric, and Fabien for your immediate help. Monsif gets the first visitor award. He flew out immediately. I think JPK had only been in the hospital for about 12hrs, we didn't even know 1/2 of the facts yet and he was there. It was really that quick, that I don't even know how he knew already. That part's a bit blurry…but I do remember he had some muscle car convertible! Love you guys!
Mile 20 Julie Shaffner Brawn - Jules, you were a rock during those long days and nights at Cedars. You answered my call no matter what you had going on in your day, you stepped out of work to bring me lunch, get me out of the fluorescent lights and into the sunshine. Thank you so much.
Mile 21 Teemu and the rest of the crazy Finns – Thank you so much for all of your support and laughter. You never once questioned whether anything would stand in the way of JPK joining in the fun, you always just make it happen. Constant reminders of what it was going to take: SISU. Teemucita, thanks for asking how high when I needed you to jump, you were the first person I called…well, the second, after Tracy, whenever I needed help and you were always knocking on my door before I could hang up the phone. Thank you. We miss you.
Mile 22 NSF Clients – Thank you for all of your hard work and determination, you are a daily inspiration to us. You remind us why we moved forward with this small idea and grew it into NSF and are proving the theory…if you have access you can recover. And for everyone donating to this run….please come see this crew in action. I will be channeling all of you right about now in this run.
Mile 23 NYC crew – You were our first fundraiser ever! You quickly stood tall behind us and convinced so many others to believe. Gross, Plunkett, Regina, MaryAnn, Kareem, Strommie, and so many others, we are so grateful to you all. Thanks McKenna Long & Aldridge for your guidance and help. We’re not the easiest little not for profit to advise. Anytime you have a legal need…use these guys-help us pay them back!
Mile 24 Team NSF running mates: Ben, Annie, Mark, Stephanie, Joan, Sakshi. Thank you so much for doing this. I know some of us on this list are not runners…definitely not marathon runners. Thank you for doing this to show your support for NextStep and those who cannot get up out of their wheelchairs and run. You guys rock and I look forward to celebrating with you all at the bar! If anyone reading this is starting to get excited….free NSF running gear to anyone who runs/bikes/crawls a race to raise $ for NextStep!
Mile 25 NSF Board - We've been in this together since the beginning. I cannot thank you enough for caring about us and the mission. We've come a long way in 4.5 years, but there's more work to be done to get us to where we want to be! I'm proud to be tackling that with all of you.
Mile 26 Tracy Sabol - deep breath. I am typing this on a plane and trying to keep it together so my seat mate doesn't think I'm nuts. We haven't even taken off yet! I know many of you reading this know Tracy, my sister, already, but I am not sure even those of you who know her truly understand all that she has done for me, Janne and everyone who has or who will walk or roll through the doors of NSF. Tracy has been an equal partner in Janne and my life since August 5, 2006. She was on the beach with us the day Janne got hurt and by our sides for emotional support & guidance since. Anything I have done for Janne, so has she. Anything I have done for NSF, she's done more! You are not only my sister, but also my best friend. Thank you and I love you.
And to all of you who made it this far....thanks for reading this and thank you so much for supporting me! Don't forget to pass this along!
All persons living with paralysis and other physical disabilities deserve the hope and opportunity to live long and healthy lives. Yet today most of these individuals are deprived of the resources they desperately need for survival because there are no options available to them or they cannot afford them. NextStep, http://www.nextstepfitness.org, provides the opportunity for health and recovery through affordable and progressive community fitness, health, and wellness facilities.
NextStep is a nationwide movement that aims to revolutionize the quality of healthcare for the physically challenged community. NextStep has paved the way with the first community facility in the U.S. to offer Locomotor and activity based training at its state of the art facility in Los Angeles and continues its vision to expand across the United States. The organization’s other initiatives are participation in cutting edge research, education, and awareness programs that are focused on enhancing the lives of the 6 million people in the U.S. living with paralysis.
NextStep is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. NextStep is a member of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) Community Fitness and Wellness (CFW) Program.