Lexington woman paralyzed by shooting now taking the next step to walking again
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - In 2017, WKYT sat down with April Ballentine. Just four years earlier, she had been the victim of domestic violence, shot multiple times by an ex-boyfriend at the Swahili Elks Lodge in Lexington.
That night left her fighting to survive and, in an instant, changed her life forever. Now, in 2022, Ballentine is on a new mission and it’s one that has her taking a step forward in the next chapter of her life.
From the outside a house is nothing more than four walls and a roof meant to provide shelter, but to some, it’s so much more.
“This was meant to be my home,” said Ballentine.
When Ballentine was looking for a new home to buy, it had to be just right.
“This was going to be my 50th birthday present to myself,” said Ballentine.
And when Ballentine sets her mind to something, she sees it through even when it comes to real estate.
“The floor plan was perfect, it was wide open,” said Ballentine.
Ballentine is proud of her home. It’s a place that she says brings her peace, but also a place that after years of searching, brought her something else.
“Being paralyzed, you just don’t think of being independent,” said Ballentine.
In 2013, Ballentine lost that independence when she was shot multiple times by an ex. That night left her paralyzed from the chest down and changed life as she knew it.
“There is a challenge with living outside of the disability, living within the disability, just trying to live daily and be as normal as possible the best that you can,” said Ballentine.
Ballentine chooses to focus more on the ability she does have. She’s never been one to shy away from pushing her body to do more.
“As of today, I have quite a bit of feeling, quite a bit of movement. I have gained things I didn’t have since the shooting, so I don’t know, maybe my body is just asleep,” said Ballentine.
In 2020 Ballentine set out to wake her body up. In the middle of the pandemic, she got a trainer and went to work in the gym.
She was doing things she never thought possible, testing her ability.
“If he gives me something to try, then I am like, ‘Okay let’s try it this way and see if I can do it.’ And that’s a lot of the things that happen, is that we try things different ways to see if I can do it and I do it and then I do it well and we try something different,” said Ballentine.
Ballentine to date has lost more than 150 pounds, and that weight loss has now opened a door that the 51-year-old thought she had closed forever.
Working with the University of Kentucky, Ballentine volunteers with physical therapy students as a mock patient. It was there where the idea was first presented about the possibility of walking again.
“I knew I could do it, I wasn’t afraid or anything like that, but I didn’t know how my body would react,” said Ballentine.
With family and friends, and with the help of a ReWalk Exoskeleton, a device designed to give people the ability to walk again, Ballentine took her first real steps on March 21.
“Once I actually stood up, I was like wow this feels good,” said Ballentine.
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That moment wasn’t just a one-time only deal. Ballentine is now working with the organization ReWalk to get her own Exoskeleton.
To also help raise funds, Ballentine is collaborating with 2MH, 2 Mother Hustlers, to sell #walkwithme April Ballentine t-shirts. You can scan the QR Code at the bottom of this story to go straight to the website for the t-shirts.
It is not cheap. She has to raise more than $100,000, but if she does, she will become the first “ReWalker” in Kentucky.
While the amount might sound daunting, the woman who lives by the phrase, “I think I can,” is using what it felt like to be on her legs again as the motivation.
“We talk about, what is it going to do for me in the future? What it’s doing for me right now is giving me hope for the future,” said Ballentine.
Her life was changed once in an instant, and nine years later, her life is changing again with the possibility of a new step forward on her own two feet into the place she calls home.
“How I get around will be different, how I am able to communicate with others will be different. I think it will even add to a stronger me,” said Ballentine.
Ballentine says her hope is to walk her daughter down the aisle this November and she also credits her faith in helping get her to this point in her journey.
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