Saturday, August 3, 2013

Three Amazing Women

This has been a week of amazing accomplishments by three very different women whom we know.

Last weekend, our daughter-in-law Jessica, after years of ill health that kept her from her lifelong passion of riding horses, rode in a dressage clinic with a top trainer and did extremely well... on a very difficult horse to ride. At the beginning of this year, Jessica decided to ride even though it was painful and exhausting. She soon started working with a personal trainer who helped work around and through her disabilities. Starting with a horse she had ridden and shown previously, Jessica is now riding several horses, including Rudy, a horse she bred herself, the son of her Grand Prix mare Lily. Rudy requires precise timing and feel to help him compensate for his issues and is very spooky unless ridden by someone he trusts completely. Jessica is that person. She has natural timing and feel and sensitivity and Rudy has responded beautifully to her. Who would have thought a year ago that Jessica would be riding again at all, much less so well... on Rudy... at a prestigious dressage clinic. What an amazing comeback... and it looks like only the beginning for Jessica...

Also last weekend, another amazing woman started off on an impossibly difficult bicycle ride: 1400 kilometers (over 880 miles) from London to Edinburgh and back to London... to be finished within a five day time limit. Susan had trained with another woman cyclist for six months. We were able to follow her progress on the grueling trip via the LEL website. Riders checked in at "control" stations in cities along the route, where volunteers waited with food, medical supplies, and beds. (Not that Susan got much use of the beds: she slept less than ten hours the whole trip.) We only had to type in her rider number to find out where she was on the route. One hundred miles from the finish, Susan wasn't sure she would make it. She posted to facebook at one stop: "100 miles to go. 15:30 to do it in. Not sure I'm going to make it. Seriously. HUGE headwind, very hot and I'm completely exhausted." But make it she did, with two hours to spare. Wow.

And this weekend our friend Hazel, who had not been able to follow her passion of roller skating for many years because of the disabling affects of Crohn's disease, is at the Artistic Roller Skating National Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She began skating again just a few years ago after many surgeries and, finally, a medication that worked. When the family moved to follow her husband's job, they landed near a skating rink where she had taken lessons as a kid, back when she was on her way to being nationally competitive... until sidelined by Crohn's. Hazel began skating and training in earnest. Last year she qualified for Nationals and won a Bronze model in her division against women who had been skating for forty years. She returned this year, stronger and better than ever... and, today, won the Gold Medal! Hazel is the National Champion in Master's Ladies' Solo Dance for 2013.

Three amazing women, following their respective passions of riding, cycling and skating, overcame tremendous odds to excel in their chosen sports.  A quote seen on facebook attributed to Christopher Reeve says: "A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." By that definition, Jessica, Susan and Hazel are definitely heroes. I am in awe of each of them.

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