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Jacob Gayle

Dr. Jacob Gayle: The Choice is Minnesota and the Courage Kenny Community

Dr. Jacob Gayle moved to Minnesota in 2011 to lead the Medtronic Foundation and the Company's Community Affairs program. One of the first stops he made, was to visit Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute (Courage Kenny), a key beneficiary of Medtronic Foundation support. Little did he know, seven years later, Courage Kenny would become central to his own journey as a new paraplegic in need of rehabilitation and therapy.

From his first spinal fusion and Harrington rod surgery due to idiopathic scoliosis as a teenage college student, through successive revision surgeries several decades later, Jacob maintained a global lifestyle that entailed living and working on nearly every continent, with his family in tow. Most days began at the gym at 5am for weightlifting, swimming and cardio and many days ended with transcontinental flights from one public health crisis to another.

When Jacob noticed he was having problems with balance and proprioception, he turned to Courage Kenny for assistance. Even specialists at renowned institutions like Mayo Clinic had great fascination in what they were observing in "real-time," but no answer for Jacob as to what specifically was happening before their eyes. Eventually, in December of 2018, he became fully dependent upon wheelchair for mobility. Yet, with his signature tenacity and the strengths and skills acquired through Courage Kenny, Jacob accomplished his longstanding desire to travel to Antarctica, albeit in a wheelchair.

This emblem of his unwillingness to allow disability to overtake destiny can be seen in his sessions in the Activity Based Locomotor Exercise (ABLE) program, which he has participated in since January 2021, almost ten years after his first visit to the institution as an interested philanthropist. Jacob participates in ABLE two days per week. He shared that Courage Kenny has a large impact on many facets of his life, including physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. In addition to ABLE, Jacob also does physical therapy, in which he utilizes the warm water therapy pool one day and the Lokomat another day every week.

Jacob retired two years ago and while he and his wife were deciding where they wanted to live. The choice was simple... Minnesota was quickly decided upon, given the impact that Courage Kenny has had and continues to have in Jacob's life. He has received surgery, services, and other supports from various organizations throughout his life, and believes Courage Kenny is unlike the others. "Courage Kenny's sense of community and level of respect, with no judgement, sets them apart from others. They take a people-to-people approach."