When Kelley Rankin and four college friends went on a mountain biking adventure at Snowshoe Mountain, he was climbing peaks that seemed to match his own rising success.
Rankin, a 37-year-old licensed physical therapist, was newly married and owned physical therapy clinics in Berkeley Springs and Martinsburg. He planned to expand the Berkeley Springs facility into a $3 million, state-of-the-art physical therapy and wellness center. All that seemed to come crashing down on Aug. 13, 2005, when he flipped his mountain bike at the resort and suffered a traumatic spinal-cord injury. In an instant, Rankin was paralyzed from the chest down and stared at a less than certain future.
Rankin credits his wife, Jennifer, for helping him regain control of his life. “I can still remember her sitting at my bedside telling me that we had to go on with our plans for the new building,” Rankin said. “She told me that even more than before, ‘we have to go forward in life, not backwards.’ Jennifer has and always will be my inspiration. I love her so much and don’t want her to miss out on anything in life.”
When the accident occurred, they had been married for less than three months. Life’s challenges can rattle the strongest marriages. Rankin said he considered canceling the project. “I felt such guilt. Of course, no one gets married thinking that 79 days later they will be married to someone with paralysis,” he said. “We had also just started plans for the new facility (Rankin Physical Therapy and Fitness Center) in Berkeley Springs. I was really afraid to borrow $3 million when my life had changed to include a wheelchair. But, Jennifer never wavered once.” Rankin had other help along the way. The Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) provided a vocational assessment, counseling and guidance, rehabilitation technology, a roll-in shower, Dragon Medical Solutions software, a driving evaluation and instruction, instructions for home modifications and other services.
Rehabilitation Counselor Brenda Orndorff said Rankin has overcome a lot to continue his business success. “To think of Kelley then compared to the way he is now is awesome!” she said. “He was tearful, anxious, depressed, a myriad of emotions. He felt that his promising career, his new marriage, everything was going to be lost.
“He one day mentioned his ‘dream center,’ how he so looked forward to opening it, but now it wasn’t going to happen. I told him then, as I have told him repeatedly since then, keep your vision, hold your focus. If you see it, it will come. And it has!”
On April 11, Kelley and Jennifer Rankins’ dream became a reality. Gov. Joe Manchin and other state and local officials joined the couple as they opened the Rankin Physical Therapy and Wellness Center. The 18,000-square-foot facility includes a physical therapy clinic, main fitness center, women-only workout area, a 6,000-square-foot gymnasium, an indoor pool, underwater treadmills, and other features. Rankin said he plans to add an Olympic-size outdoor pool and walking track in the future.
Gov. Manchin acknowledged the risk the Rankins took building the $3 million facility but said, “I’ve not seen anything like this around the state.” Orndorff said Rankin is inspiring to her. “Working with Kelley will no doubt be one of the DRS highlights for me! He’s articulate, kind, gracious, soft-spoken, he’s an inspiration to me,” shesaid. “Through all his physical and emotional pain, he has had support from family and friends to get where he is now. I have constantly reminded him not to forget that his own strength, his desire to succeed, played a huge role in his current success.”
Rankin said he is grateful for the help DRS provided in his time of need. “They have been wonderful! Brenda Orndorff has always been there for me, to offer a few words of encouragement and to answer questions,” he said. “There were four gentleman who came up from Charleston to put the roll-in shower in my bathroom. What a great group of guys! They were a lot of fun and certainly made a tremendous change in my independence and quality of life. “The Martinsburg District Office also has been excellent. Those individuals are a tremendousasset to our community. They definitely accelerated my recovery and helped me get back to my old self. Many thanks to Brenda Orndorff and the rest of the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation.”Find this interesting or helpful? Share it!
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