Former Courage Kenny Client Gives Back, Helps Others with Disabilities
The Golden Valley campus of Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute serves people with injuries and disabilities of all kinds.
It’s a place where Alex Mitchell became all too familiar with at a young age.
“It was on Dec. 29, 2012, I was snowboarding with my best friends and I went off a jump and just landed wrong and landed on my neck,” Mitchell said.
At age 17, Mitchell suffered a spinal cord injury that initially paralyzed him from the chest down. That is until rehab helped bring back a little bit of movement.
“Started with like a flicker in my toe and then started to get more and more feeling, and then from there it kind of started to snowball into gaining more movement in my legs and throughout my body,” he said.
An intense fitness program at Courage Kenny called “ABLE” helped speed up Mitchell’s recovery process and trained his body how to walk again.
“He made a lot of physical gains. His endurance, his strength, his walking ability were vast,” said Barry Weintraub, an exercise specialist at Courage Kenny who helped Mitchell when he was a client.
Returning in a different capacity
Now six years later, Weintraub can technically call Mitchell, a coworker.
“From my experience, he’s the first,” Weintraub said. “From knowing him as a high school student and kind of seeing him transform himself into an adult now, it’s been pretty incredible.”
Since September, Mitchell has worked as a therapeutic recreation intern at Courage Kenny.
“I wanted to work with people who had injuries similar to me and work with people with disabilities, just because I would look back and think about how much I loved Courage Kenny, and how much they did for me,” Mitchell said.
One of his responsibilities involves leading a spin class via Zoom.
This internship is the final step he needs to complete before he graduates from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in therapeutic recreation.
“It’s so awesome seeing him connect with clients,” Weintraub said. “It’s so awesome seeing him give back.”
His internship in Golden Valley runs through Dec. 18. Whether he has a future as a full-fledged Courage Kenny employee remains to be seen. But wherever he winds up, it will be in a position where he can help people overcome the same challenges that he faced.
“Just the human will to overcome tremendous odds is such an inspiring thing, and it really drives me to come to work with a good attitude, come to work ready to achieve something, and push clients to achieving more than they think they could,” Mitchell said.