Eleanor Brimmer and Donna Ponessa Named to Board of Directors for USPEA

Friday, April 22, 2022
Posted by Lindsay Y. McCall


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At the United States Para Equestrian Association (USPEA) Annual Meeting in Spring 2022, Eleanor Brimmer was voted by the USPEA Board to serve as Secretary for the USEF National Affiliate USPEA and Donna Ponessa was elected Athlete Representative.

Photo - Secretary Eleanor Brimmer of Wellington, Florida (Lindsay Y. McCall)

Born with Cerebral Palsy, Brimmer is currently an active athlete, competing in Grade III Para Dressage. She was longlisted for the 2012 London Paralympics and is currently on the Developing Rider list. For 2021 she was honored by her peers and received the USEF Lloyd Landkamer Sportsmanship Award. Eleanor resides in Wellington, FL with her senior rescue dog Maya and trains with Gold Medal master coach Andrea Woodard of Woodard Dressage. When not riding Eleanor works as Office Manager for Oakley Equine Sports Medicine, Inc. and volunteers as a ring steward for The White Fences Equestrian Center dressage shows in Loxahatchee, FL. Working behind the scenes with USPEA for a number of years, Eleanor enjoys mentoring emerging athletes and helping them find their footing in the Para Dressage World.


Accepting her nomination as Secretary, Eleanor commented: “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to serve USPEA in a more formal way. I’m glad the board thinks that I’m up to the task, and I look forward to working with them to help grow our sport in the United States.”

Donna Ponessa
Athlete Representative Donna Ponessa of New Windsor, New York (Photo Lindsay Y. McCall)

Paralympian (London 2012) Donna Ponessa’s extraordinary discipline, perseverance, and competitive spirit have propelled her through extreme physical adversity. She began her equestrian passion in childhood, riding and showing horses. She graduated from college with an RN (registered nurse) degree, a BA in Human Services, and a MA in Public Administration. Donna Ponessa was diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica in 1984. Ponessa is paralyzed from the lower ribcage down. Ponessa had a tracheostomy and ventilator to help her breathe due to respiratory insufficiency. She is a Grade I Para Dressage athlete. In 2018, she took a bad fall at work and sustained a C5 spinal cord injury.

Ponessa started riding para-dressage in 2010 becoming a contender in 2011. In October 2011, she attended her first CPEDI abroad in Mexico City, where she assisted Team USA to a first-place finish on a borrowed horse. The following month, she was again part of the winning team in Australia. In November 2011, she was selected to train with three-time Olympian Robert Dover at the USET Foundation Headquarters in Gladstone, NJ. In June 2012, at Selection Trials at the USEF Olympic Training Center in Gladstone NJ, she was shortlisted to represent the USA at the 2012 London Paralympic Games with Western Rose, owned by her trainer, Wes Dunham.

Tremendous Growth

Donna Ponessa noted, “I have witnessed tremendous growth in the sport of Para-Equestrian Dressage, and with the involvement and expertise of the USPEA, I see it achieving even more. My goal for being on the Board of Directors as the Athlete Representative is to use my experience and knowledge of Dressage, Para Equestrian sport and competition. As a high-performance athlete I hope to assist in the development, promotion, support, and sustenance of USA Para-Equestrian Athletes for Regional, National, and International Competitions. I’d like to focus on cultivating young talent and supporting seasoned athletes to keep the USA on the path to becoming a Gold medal contender and world leader in Paralympic Equestrian Sport. I am proud to serve on the USPEA Board of Directors.”

USPEA Board of Directors
President Hope Hand
Vice President Tina Wentz
Secretary Ellie Brimmer
Treasurer Nataliya Boyko
Athlete Representative Donna Ponessa