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Paralyzed domestic violence victim determined to walk daughter down the aisle

Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-30 11:59:07-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — "I'm ready when you are!" Cardinal Hill physical therapist Kori Ivanchak said as she started her session with domestic violence victim April Ballentine.

Ballentine and Ivanchak have been working with a device called a ReWalk exoskeleton since July.

"On a scale of one to ten, it's a 20," Ballentine said. "It's hard. It's very hard."

She's learning to walk again after she was paralyzed in 2013. Her ex-boyfriend shot her five times.

"I was actually laying on the ground, and he stood over me and shot me," she said.

Since that awful day, she has been determined to stay strong, proving life can continue after a spinal injury and after domestic violence.

"It's your choice and your decision to move forward and to change that aspect of life and to live in a better place than you were," she said.

Ballentine is also motivated by a specific goal: walking her daughter, Autumn, down the aisle with the exoskeleton, but without physical therapist Kori Ivanchak's help.

"Being able to walk with her," Ballentine said tearfully. "I can't. Sorry. I can't explain."

The wedding date is set for November 12th.


"We've got that deadline that we're working toward, and I think that we'll get there," Ivanchak said.

It's always top of mind for Ballentine, Ivanchak, and other patients like Rob Portwood. He pushes her just as she pushes him. He is also learning to walk again after a stroke in June.

"To see what she's been through and to where she's at today and the goal she's set for next month, all you can do is push yourself because if she can do it, anybody can," Portwood said.

That's also the message Ballentine wants to get out there.

"It's not about me," she said. "None of this is about me. It's about being able to show the world that this is possible."