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Grant Recipient

Jessica Hubert


Jessica Hubert began what she had hoped would become a very successful career as a Fire Protection Engineer in 2006. However, in 2012, she began a 2 year long contentious divorce that cost her nearly everything she had worked for. In July 2013, after beginning to get her feet under her, she was paralyzed from the waist down while working out. Now, as a single mother of a 3 year old, she is overcoming the odds and attempting to walk again.

From Jessica’s Application:

I was injured at the gym while doing squats on a machine that failed, fell on me and broke my neck.

I hope to be able to walk with assistance and increase my independence so I can live alone and properly take care of my 4 year old son, who is bright and kind and return to my career as an engineer.

I’ve been at Next Steps for a little under a year; I can now walk without help using a walker. If I can continue going to Next Steps with a grant or some aid, I feel as though I have no limit to my recovery.


The Board of Directors of the Mary and Charles A. Parkhill Foundation for Spinal Cord Rehabilitation unanimously approved a grant to fund Jessica’s program at Next Steps Chicago facility 3 times per week for 3 months, giving her time to seek further funding from grants, private sources or return to work.

Summary of Progress

Just wanted to forward some videos of things we’ve been working on at Next Steps. We’ve been working on the treadmill a lot, which I find very helpful and then also a lot of stimulation. One of the things we are doing, where you can really see the difference between stim on and stim off is the back extensions. However, from sit to stand, it’s almost not noticeable the difference with and without stimulation. It’s really exciting; the sit-to stand activation in glutes and quads is new! Also, yesterday I walked from our driveway to the middle of the yard (about 40 yards) with my son! My mom got some pictures.

My son turned 3 while I was in the hospital in acute rehab after my accident (turning 5 in August). He has helped me write a little children’s story, I have included it below. I asked him how he felt about mom being hurt:

My mom is different. Strangers look at her a lot. I think she’s special. She has a special chair because of a big hurt on her back. She used to walk, and run, and carry me. One day at school, my Auntie came to pick me up early because mom got a bad hurt. I was very scared. I couldn’t go to see her in the hospital for a lot of days. But, she didn’t die. My mom lived in the hospital for a long time. My Abuela took me to see her every day. She learned how to live in a wheelchair.


I like to ride on her lap in the wheelchair. There are lots of buttons in hospitals. I like buttons. I had my number three birthday in the hospital with mom. We were pirates!


My mom’s legs don’t work right anymore because her spinal cord was hurt. There’s a big cord inside our back bones. It’s called the spinal cord and it helps our brain talk to the rest of our bodies. When my mom’s spinal cord got hurt, her legs and belly couldn’t feel or move anymore. But she’s still my mom. Our house got new ramps, so mom can make her wheelchair go up and down small stairs. It’s my job to keep my toys off the ramps and the floor. There’s a new chair that rides up the wall to bring her up and down the big stairs. It’s not a fun ride. Actually, it goes very slow.


My mom learned to drive with her hands. We got a new van that has a ramp come out. We park in wheelchair parking spots at the store. That way, there’s room for the ramp to come out. Sometimes people who can walk easy take all the wheelchair spots. That makes me feel mad because it’s not fair.


Mom drives me to my school in her van. Then mom goes to walking school. At walking school, there are lots of people who use wheelchairs. Some have chairs with buttons that go like cars. -Mom-doesn’t have a- – – wheelchair like that because her arms work like always. Some of the people at walking school can’t move or feel their whole bodies very well because they got bad hurts in their necks. I like the people at walking school. There are big strong men and women who help people like my mom get exercise and try so hard to walk again. Even people in wheelchairs need exercise.


There are cool machines to help mom stand and walk. Sometimes at walking school, mom has robot legs. When I grow up, I want to be a walking school man. Mom can walk now a little bit with her walker, and everyone is so proud! Sometimes I’m sad that mom got the bad hurt. So is she. But I am proud that she still smiles and keeps getting better because she doesn’t give up.

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