It’s that time of year again — the time when we are reminded to reflect upon the past year, to count our blessings, and to set our sights on the promise of the new year ahead. Personally, I relish the chance to look back over the highs and lows of the past year, to feel grateful for the good times as well as the wisdom gained from the hardships. Two things I never take for granted: the beauty and love of my equine companions who enrich my life in innumerable ways, and the health that blesses my family and me.
This inevitably leads me to reflect on those who are not so lucky. For some, the holidays are a stark reminder of what they don’t have, of the needs that surmount opportunity, of the necessities that must be forgone in order to survive. Sadly, this describes many people in our extended equestrian family who are coping with illnesses and injuries.
What amazes me and makes me love my job as EAF president is just how resilient our recipients are. One such individual, a 22-year-old named Allison, inspires me each year with her fortitude in the face of a tragic situation. When she was 16, Alison’s life as she knew it was changed in a moment, the moment her horse stumbled and they both fell. The years that followed that fall included 15 months in a coma and countless surgeries. Alison’s prognosis was initially grim but thanks to the additional support the EAF was able to provide, Allison’s family could afford innovative therapies. When I heard from Allison’s parents last Christmas, she was completing aqua-therapy. She signed her name to that card and included a bookmark that proclaims me a member of “Team Allison.” I keep both in my memory box.
Whenever they speak of Allison, her parents never talk of what Allison can’t do, what was taken from her. They are thankful for what she can do, for how often she has proven her doctors wrong, the strides she continues to make in her recovery. Though their goals are not the same as they once were, Allison is still progressing. That progress is just measured on a different scale.
Allison is why I fight to raise awareness for the Equestrian Aid Foundation. I chose to share her story today not only to highlight the accomplishments of this incredible young woman, but also to show that with support from generous donors, health, hope and healing are possible.
Let us all keep Allison and her story with us as we reflect upon the year and give thanks.
Stephanie Riggio Bulger
Equestrian Aid Foundation | 11924 W. Forest Hill Blvd. Ste. 10A-377 | Wellington | FL | 33414