Joe Kinan was the most severely injured of the crowd who were burned in the fire at “The Station” nightclub in West Warwick, RI, on Feb. 20, 2003.
The fire killed 100 people and injured more than 200.
For the past 16 years, Joe has been on a rugged journey of recovery, having had 148 surgeries.
Joe not only had to fight his way back from injuries that should have killed him, but he also developed a paralyzing fear of fire.
“I try to look at it and face up to it but it’s tough,” he told PEOPLE magazine: “Even if it’s just a candle with a one-inch flame, it’s like the size of a tree to me.”
Before the fire, Joe worked as much as possible—two or three jobs at a time.
He was also an amateur bodybuilder, spending hours working out and loving the “mental clarity that it brought.”
When the fire started, he immediately tried to get himself and his friend out the door.
She did not survive.
“I kept thinking about my daughter. I didn’t want her to not have a dad.”
Joe’s fitness as a bodybuilder helped him survive the fire, but his deeper source of strength came from his mental fitness.
At the 2007 World Burn Congress in Vancouver, Canada, Joe met Carrie Pratt, a fellow burn survivor, and they became close friends.
Three years later, Joe and Carrie began dating and eventually married in 2017.
In recent years, Joe received a hand transplant.
After lengthy rehab, he can now use a chef’s knife again (getting back to his love of cooking) and make his own cup of coffee in the morning.
Last summer Joe had several rejection episodes that caused him to lose all his fingernails and develop neuropathy in his hand.
Joe has learned a lot about the process of healing on his journey to recovery.
“Something I keep saying to myself is ‘’You end up a patient—now you have to be patient.”
Joe has started a real estate company flipping houses and likes to stay as physically fit as possible.
One more thing.
A baby girl.
Who is almost 6!
(I acknowledge my debt to the “Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress” in the writing of this blog)
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