LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – A Lexington woman who was left paralyzed by acts of domestic violence nine years ago, has begun to take her first steps once again.

This story is about April Ballentine.

September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, but just days away, October will be Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Ballentine’s journey towards her remarkable recovery is a testament to both.

“So, November the 12 is my daughter’s wedding, and I want to be able to walk at her wedding,” Ballentine said.

So grabbed the handles of her exoskeleton, pulled herself up, and felt a strength return that left her almost 10 years ago.

“It’s not easy. It takes a lot of work, a lot of dedication, and you truly have to be committed to it, because without that, it’s not possible,” Ballentine said.

After Ballentine was shot five times and left paralyzed back on August 2013, her journey towards recovered started with accepting the turn of events in her life and took a lot of forgiveness and focus.

“Not blaming myself, or being upset with myself, because there wasn’t anything I did wrong,” Ballentine said.


Her next objective was regaining control of her life. She said because of her high-level injury, nothing would have been possible without intense training.

Ballentine said she found a trainer, and for a year and a half, she went hard with physical therapy, three days a week.

“And doing that allowed a lot of things to recreate themselves. Strengthening my core, back, and doing things they said I’d never be able to do,” Ballentine said.

Her journey led her to UK Hospital, where she was a mock patient and ran into a new, physical therapist.

“She said we’re going to do something different. I’m going to have you stand up using parallel bars. I didn’t hesitate,” Ballentine said. “And low and behold, I stood up three times without issue, and I had no idea I could do that. And when I stood up one of the times, she said squeeze your buttocks and push your hips forward, and I did both of them, and she said, we’re going to put you in an exoskeleton.”

That was one year ago.

According to Flint Rehab, an exoskeleton is a wearing technology that assists paralyzed people with walking again.

On Thursday, Ballentine demonstrated how she was using the device to regain her mobility.

“Next thing I knew, I had a date to walk. This has been an amazing journey, I don’t want to say I wouldn’t change it, but in some ways, I wouldn’t change it, because this journey has made me even better than who I thought I was,” Ballentine said.

For now, Ballentine is getting herself ready to walk on her daughter’s wedding day.

Next, she said she will need around 25 sessions of physical therapy at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital before she can walk alone on the exoskeleton.

Then, Ballentine plans to walk in fundraising events to continue to give hope to those with “catastrophic injuries.”

“If they can take a little piece of me with them and carry them through to continue to push them through, I’m here,” Ballentine said.

To donate to Ballentine’s causes for ‘catastrophic injury,’ click here: Donate to South-Atlantic Catastrophic Injury Fund in honor of April Ballentine (helphopelive.org)