I was the only stroke hero at the brain injury camp.
I was placed between disabled people and volunteers (therapists, teenagers, family members, and caregivers).
I had a 300-mile drive to get to the camp. My muscles were stiff so I hiked around paths of the camp. A volunteer driving a golf cart offered me a ride in the cart, but I declined. I tipped my black felt hat to her and began walking to the stables.
Entering the stables, I saw wheelchair after wheelchair. The volunteers were helping each camper climb up a 5-foot high platform to mount the horse. Cody, the white horse, was just inches away from the towering structure. The caregiver wheeled the disabled camper to the platform and helped the person mount Cody. Sometimes, a camper would need someone to sit behind them on the horse. The volunteer would gather up the horse’s lead and the camper and horse were led into the arena.
The radiance on the faces of each camper was stunning. The campers were transformed into adventurers.
I practiced my dismount over Cody’s back. Audrey, my teacher back in Asheville, taught me well. It’s like being able to walk. My right arm and my neck were comforted by Cody’s neck. I swung my left foot over the saddle to the other side and I kept my whole body plastered to Cody’s right flank. And, my feet found the ground. I kept the volunteers at bay as they helped other “disabled persons”. But, I am only temporarily disabled.
At Brain Injury camp, Alon discovered his ability to ride a horse was strong. He reframed his disability as just temporary. Alon still rides horses today.