Local charity Falling Forward aims to fix flaw in insurance system

Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 6:38 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2023 at 6:53 PM CDT
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FAIRWAY, Kan. (KCTV) - There’s a hole in the American insurance system. A local charity is trying to repair it one physical therapy treatment and one trip to Washington at a time.

Falling Forward will be the September recipient of KCTV5′s 3 Degree Guarantee initiative. Every time the forecast high temperature is within three degrees of the actual high at KCI, KCTV5 will donate $50 to the organization.

Falling Forward helps people with traumatic injuries by paying for their rehab after their insurance runs out. The all-volunteer organization just celebrated 10 years and has helped more than 160 patients.

One of them is Caden Hoth. KCTV5 first told you about the Staley High School basketball player seven years ago when a car wreck left him paralyzed from the neck down.

He’s an adult now, recently married and physically active thanks to 18 months of rehab that would not have been possible without Falling Forward.

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Hoth remembers the moment the doctor came to his room and gave him crushing news. He was 16 years old.

“The main doctor came into the room and he brought in a power wheelchair,” Hoth described. “He kind of just said, ‘This is what the rest of your life could be like,’ and he kind of just gave it to me like that. And I started crying after that.”

He was making progress in physical therapy, but most outpatient insurance caps out at 30 visits. He had the determination. He wanted to keep going. He continued for 18 months because Falling Forward covered the cost after insurance ran out.

“My wife and I, we play tennis together,” he said of his physical activities. “You know, I’m not the quickest on the court. But we do we do like it.”

Falling Forward began with an idyllic vacation in Italy when Sam Porritt fell off a 15-foot wall.

“Life changed in the blink of an eye,” Porritt said. “Like, I was on this beautiful vacation and the next moment, I’m laying on the ground paralyzed.”

Porritt founded Falling Forward two years later.

The wake-up call came when he entered rehab. It took two years to recover. His insurance paid for the whole thing. When the woman at the clinic checked his insurance, she expressed shock. That’s rare, she told him. That’s when he learned he was one of the lucky ones. He met plenty of people not so lucky during his time in rehabilitation therapy.

“They’re working as hard as they can, and then one day, boom, their insurance says, ‘You’ve run out,’” Porritt said.

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His organization works with people who’ve had spinal cord injuries and brain injuries, including stroke because that’s where he says the insurance industry’s one-size-fits-all approach fails.

“After a knee replacement, you need rehab to be able to walk again. Twenty, thirty visits is probably enough,” Porritt explained. “The brain doesn’t heal like the knee does. The nerves don’t heal, the spinal cord doesn’t heal like the knee does.”

That’s why he and patients like Ed Corporal also make visits to Capitol Hill seeking reform. The persistence of Falling Forward and other advocacy groups led to legislation that removed the rehab cap for Medicare, but they’re still working on reform in private policies.

Hoth’s determination and family support are a big part of how he came this far, but that alone isn’t enough.

“Falling Forward definitely played a big role in my recovery and where I am today,” he said.

Falling Forward is run entirely by volunteers. They work with only four non-profit rehab centers, two of them here in Kansas City, to stretch each donated dollar further.

Find out more about Falling Forward here.

You can also follow them and the stories of the people they serve on social media.