It was a year ago we got the news of the accident which severely injured Dressage Olympian Courtney King Dye, from a simple misstep the horse she was riding that almost took her life, and left her in a coma for 4 weeks. To commemorate the “occasion” Courtney wanted to speak at the Equestrian Aid Foundation Fundraiser held at the IHS Palm Beach Dressage Derby. Last year the fundraiser was fueld by all those deeply concerned for their colleague, and this year she did it again, alive, in person, and getting better and better. Courtney’s injury has not only increased awareness of the importance of wearing a helmet, but has changed the rules. How appropriate that at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby was the first dressage event where the USEF Helmet rule became official.
Addressing over 400 guests who came for silent and live auction to raise money for EAF, Courtney read her carefully prepared speech from her IPad about the importance of the EAF and the importance of wearing a helmet.
"I can't believe it's been exactly a year since my accident. A year of my life is gone. Poof. I've come so far, but I have so far yet to go. Luckily my support group has been fantastic and, hence, made it relatively easy.
I'm having a little Celebrate Life get together with the people closest to me on Friday. As gifts for each of them I'm giving "Welcome Back Court" shirts, and on the sleeve it says, "...make lemonade." They are thinking we're celebrating MY life, but really we're celebrating all of our lives. I may have been the closest to death, but any of us could have died at any moment, so we all have to be grateful that we have each other.
I miss riding my horses, of course, but I'm thankful to be a part of their lives and training however I can.
The other thing I'm doing to commemorate one year is I'm speaking at the EAF fundraiser at the Palm Beach Derby, which is a great cause I'm all too familiar with now. I've been so lucky to have absorbed so much caring, but I know not everyone is so lucky simply because not so many people know. If you'd like to donate but can't be there, see http://equestrianaidfoundation.org/ for instructions. It's very touching that the horse community supports each other in rough times. This is a way we can offer support even if we don't know someone.
When I first wrote on my website after the coma I said I was all for wearing helmets, but I didn't want helmets to be all my accident means. Now I think it should be. What else could it mean? It's exactly that that helps save people from injury. It saved a few people we all know from having to go through what I went through. Guenter Seidel, Liz Austen, Debbie McDonald. They're three great riders who have had recent falls and didn't always wear a helmet before my accident. I've said before that if my accident saves ONE person from going through what I went through, it's worth it. That's THREE that everyone knows... Definitely worth it.
I can tell myself that my accident is definitely beneficial because of that. Without it, like Lauren Sammis said, it's just a simple tragedy. This gives it meaning.
In rereading my website I thought it's time for a physical update. Like a broken record, I'll repeat the same thing again. Everything for sure is getting better, but I still have all the same struggles. A weaker right side, balance, and speech. Progress is slow but sure. I've learned not to wake up in the morning and test to see if there was some big improvement overnight. I used to do that every day, but after a year, I've learned it's not gonna happen. Like the tortoise I have to learn patience. It's against my nature, but it's a virtue I've had to learn.
Courtney King Dye
A special thanks to Sharon Packer who grabbed my camera and took most of these photos. MPH