Journey Forward

Journey Forward was founded by Dan Cummings, a quadriplegic with a heart of gold, who regained the ability to walk in June 2008.

When Dan was nineteen years old and decided to go for a swim at a lake.  He jumped off a boat in shallow water and didn’t realize the depth.  When he opened his eyes underwater he realized he couldn’t move.  Luckily, his friends dove in to save his life.

He was airlifted to Boston Medical Center where he spent a month of intensive care.  Unfortunately, this spinal cord injury left him as a quadriplegic.  The doctors told him he was a C6 dependent quadriplegic and would spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair.  Sadly, they weren’t even sure he would be able to feed himself.

“I am nineteen years old.  I have my whole life ahead of me.  I was an athlete.  I was a fighter.  I just made a promise to myself that I was dedicating the rest of my life to getting out of my wheel chair no matter how long it took.”

For three years he spent time in and out of rehab.  All the while he was discouraged that his physical therapists were not thinking progressively.

“My physical therapists were teaching me how to live in a wheel chair and I wanted to get out of my wheel chair.”

He managed to regain movement in his hands and arms but he was still confined to a wheelchair.  Soon, he heard of a place in California that offered something different.  It was called Project Walk in San Diego, California.  In order to get to California he first had to live by himself in an apartment.

For eleven months he trained and taught himself how to survive and get around in his wheelchair.  Once he became self-sufficient enough he moved to California.  Four years later, with tremendous diligence and effort he walked out of there.


Here is Dan’s story in his own words:  “They put one foot in front of another.  And I was going with the walker.  And then I am going.”

Then all of a sudden he goes. “I am not holding on to you.”

I said, “You are not holding on to me?”

He goes “No.”

He came and walked around…(choked up)

He came and walked around here and I could see he was not holding on to me.

It felt like I was floating.

“And honest to God it felt like I was walking on air.  It took me seven years but I did it.  And it was awesome.”


He came back home to Massachusetts with the intention of helping others with spinal cord injuries.  Dan goes on to say:

“I couldn’t understand coming from Boston, Massachusetts, the capital of the medical field, why I had to fly three thousand miles away to find a place to help me walk again.”

He wanted to bring that place here and create a similar program back home.  With help from others, Cummings managed to raise $350,000 dollars to create his non-profit Journey Forward.


Journey Forward’s mission is to offer an intense exercise program to help people with spinal cord injuries.  They use Total Gyms and spin bikes and other fancy machines to facilitate the motion of walking while he/she is strapped into a harness or being assisted by a caring physical therapist.

“I believe if there are more Journey Forwards and more programs like this there are going to be more success stories.” — Dan Cummings

He continues: “Will everybody get up and walk again?  Probably not.  But, I would never tell anyone they could never walk again.  Because people told me I would never walk again.  And I did.”


For further refinement of severe spinal cord injuries are as follows:

  1. Feldenkrais Therapy
  2. Standing on Stake (martial arts therapy)
  3. Chinese Health Balls

Those are just a few suggestions of other healing modalities you can research in order to achieve fluidity of movement with the least resistance and a sense of effortlessness.  People often can’t explain why healing occurs at this critical level.

Movement and Awareness IS THE METHOD TO COMMUNICATE with the brain In order to form missing neural patterns and repair the damaged nervous system.

Yet, for years Feldenkrais therapy and the Anat Baniel method have focused on the above universal principle of regeneration.


These videos aired on WCVB’s Chronicle on Friday March 29, 2013.  Each had a segment of a different individual healing themselves of spinal cord injury.  Clip one is of Dan’s wonderful story that will make you choke back some tears.

Video clip

Here is one of several promotional trailers for the upcoming documentary about Dan Cummings called “Mile of Hope: The Dan Cummings Story.”  The film has been completed but just needs to be edited now.  They are planning for a 2014 release which will require a campaign to raise funds for the costs associated with distribution.  Here is the 2 minute clip:

hope that helps!


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