Here we share Tara Celentano's entry for a new custom wheelchair van as part of National Mobility Month. She has been a recipient for many years and is an active member of the EAF's board of governors. Her story is in her own words. Please vote daily until May 13 to help Tara's chances to win. Use code 747 on your initial vote. Note that you can not vote more than once in a 24-hour period from the same IP address. Here is Tara's story in her own words - I am 37 years old and had my dream job as a professional horse trainer. On December 27, 2006, it all changed when I had a catastrophic accident in Florida. I was bringing a young horse in from the paddock when he jumped on my back, knocked me down and broke my neck. The injury left me a tetraplegic. What exactly does that mean? I have no use of my lower extremities, minimal control and feeling from my chest to abdomen and no use of my fingers. Then there is the pain. It's a constant nerve pain throughout. At times it's so strong that I'm unable to get out of bed.
Despite the accident, I'm as determined as ever to stay involved with horses. They are the reason I go on. Horses were not just an occupation to me, but also my passion. I began riding and competing at eight years old. It's all I've ever wanted to do.
In 2001, I met my partner Roger Roberts and we had a successful business with driving, dressage and jumper horses. Our specialties were breaking, training and showing. I was fortunate to ride with top dressage trainers; Lars Petersen (Olympic Games for Denmark) Anky van Grunsven (Netherlands, three-time gold medal Olympics winner) and Michael Barisone (USA Alternate, 2008 Olympics).
My dreams and goals were to be a competitive international rider. And, I was on my way with numerous wins, which include 2006 Born in USA 3-Year-Old Colt Materiale Champion, prestigious Dressage at Devon; 2005 BLM Champion Training level, Friesian Stallion Elijah; 2005 BLM Third place First level, Friesian Stallion Navarre; 2005 Second place FEI 4-Year-Old Born in USA, Dutch Stallion U Pearl Harbor at Dressage at Devon.
I am still very active with horses. I recently had a working student I trained from training level to third level. Together we trained 4 to 5 horses a day. My working student has moved on now and I am teaching a few people, but I would like to do more. I had a wonderful opportunity to judge for Horse Shows at The Hedges this year too. I'd like to do so much more, but because of my limitations, I simply can't afford a new wheelchair-accessible van. Having reliable transportation would enable me to get to medical appointments without concern, but also would allow me to evolve beyond my circumstances -- sharing my passion for horses in a teaching capacity, as well as educating on safety and prevention.
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