The National Veterans Wheelchair Games held in Louisville, KY, in July 2019 were the 39th annual games and pulled in over 800 athletes. Starting in 1981, the wheelchair games have drawn individuals from all 50 states, including the Dominican Republic and Great Britain. Over the past years, the wheelchair games have expanded from the original 7 events to over 20 events bringing veterans together to compete on one stage.
In 2019, veteran Jim Kempner joined as an athlete in his 4th wheelchair games and participated in 9 different events, including slalom, trap shooting, bowling, and archery. His outstanding dedication and ability to battle to the top led him to receive three gold medals and four silver medals. When receiving his medals, Jim used his Ekso Indego Personal to walk across the stage. When explaining his feelings, Jim expressed, “to show veterans that now we have the opportunity to not only stand but walk again is a feeling that is hard to explain.”
Injured in March of 2014 when he fell off the second story of a building, Jim was determined to continue pursuing his passions and hobbies. By participating in the veteran wheelchair games, he was able to compete on a high level and dedicate himself to the challenge each sport provided. His interest in participating in sports at a high level and continuing to be active led him to seek out other interests, including exploring technology available for veterans— exoskeletons. Jim started his training with the Ekso Indego Personal exoskeleton in April of 2018 through VA Palo Alto. Walking across the stage to accept his medals at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games was only the beginning for Jim.
When he is not competing in his sports, Jim uses Ekso Indego Personal on a daily basis to walk with his family and friends. He truly takes it to the limits, demonstrating how Ekso Indego Personal is not only helping veterans walk at home but around the community. Jim enjoys walking around Walmart and Home Depot, something that was not an option for him following his injury in 2014. Not only has he been able to see personal changes when using Ekso Indego Personal, but his family has also been a big part of his journey as well. So much so that a letter written by his granddaughter outlining three wishes included a wish for her grandpa Jim, “My last wish would be for my grandpa to walk again.”
“To be able to stand and walk again really can’t be put into words. To be able to show others that there are options other than to just be in a chair the rest of their life is great.”
Jim Kempner, United States Veteran, Wheelchair Olympics Athlete, and Indego user
Ekso Indego Personal has helped Jim to continue reaching for his goals and passions. Not only in his love for sports but also in making his granddaughter’s wish come true.
Now offered under Ekso Bionics, Ekso Indego Personal is a flagship at-home exoskeleton that is designed to help patients with spinal cord injuries walk again in their homes and community. Equipped with a modular, quick-connect design, you can put it on and take it off anytime without assistance. It’s also extra light, weighing only 29 lb (13kg), and is designed to help you take it with you anywhere you want to go. Try Ekso Indego Personal today and regain your independence. For any inquiries, reach out to us today.