Pan American Team Individual Silver Medalist and Team Gold Medal winner Heather Blitz and Canadian Young Rider Alex Dvorak were the recipients of the Courtney King Dye Helmet Awareness Award at the International Horse Sport Palm Beach Derby 2012. Blitz has been wearing a helmet for two years since Olympian King-Dye had her accident, which resulted in a brain injury. Joining many of the North American Dressage riders in what is now spreading throughout Europe, with Isabelle Werth setting the Euro example Blitz has recognized the importance of setting an example to become a role model for riders of all ages. “It makes so much more sense in dressage to wear helmets as it is a "sport" not a beauty contest. I find many dressage training situations to be possibly more risky than jumping and it's certainly standard for jumpers to wear helmets. Dressage riders need to advance into modern times and do the same.”
Canadian Young Rider Alex Dvorak sent Courtney a personal note of thanks sharing her own experience when her Mom Ellen suffered a brain injury in a horse accident. “I just wanted to directly thank you for putting together this award and finding the sponsors that were willing to support it. It really means a lot. I would also like to send my best wishes to you on your road to recovery. When I was younger my mom actually suffered from a severe brain injury that was horse (but not riding) related. The doctors never expected for her to get her speech, reading, and writing back to “normal” but unless you know about her accident, you wouldn’t have the slightest clue that she had ever had a brain injury. She is fully capable in every way, and works hard managing our farm and running the business. I know from watching my mom that everyday isn’t always easy but I hope that her story inspires you to continue to drive forward and that it gives you another living example that it is possible to do things against all odds. I wish you the best of luck in the future, and thank you again for putting together the award.”
Sponsored by Hampton Green Farm, Renee Isler and GPA Helmet, the highest scoring rider wearing a helmet in the CDI Young Riders division was presented with $1000 and the highest scoring rider in a CDI won $1500. Each were presented with a GPA helmet of their choice. The guest of honor on the 2nd anniversary of her accident at the Equestrian Aid/Palm Beach Dressage Derby fundraiser Courtney opened the event with a heartfelt presentation; “Last year I said, "a year of my life is gone, poof." Now two years of my life is gone, poof. My major improvements are going to the bathroom by myself (yay!), being able to stand and balance while I brush my teeth instead of sitting in a chair, and being able to get my own clothes off shelves instead of having to have someone set them out for me. That is the culmination of my greatest achievements.
I've accepted that this is going to be an incredibly long and arduous recovery. I'm deeply grateful and amazed at the generosity of individuals fundraising. That's kept me afloat; don't get me started on insurance. The equestrian aid foundation has offered me their financial assistance several times, but I said when the aid of individuals wans, I will gratefully accept their help; but there are many people out there needing financial assistance as much as I do who don't get it simply because we don't know.
That's what is so fantastic about the Equestrian Aid Foundation; I could not make it without assistance, and it offers us a way to help the unknowns in need. The equestrian community is extremely endearing and tightly knit. The Equestrian Aid Foundation showcases the family we are, taking care of one another. Please, just do everyone a favor and wear a helmet to lesson your chances of needing the help!