Life changed in an instant for Rio Olympic bronze medalist Phillip Dutton when his stepdaughter, Lee Lee Jones, suffered a traumatic brain injury in a riding accident just before Christmas.
Lee Lee, a 22-year-old graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, was cantering around the exercise track at the Duttons’ True Prospect Farm in West Grove, PA on an unseasonably warm day when the horse she was riding bucked, slipped and fell. Thankfully, she was wearing a helmet.
The horse landed on Lee Lee, and she was airlifted to Christiana Care Hospital in Newark, Delaware. After spending more than a month in the Intensive Care Unit, she has now begun the long road to recovery at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in Malvern.
Phillip’s wife, Evie, has been by Lee Lee’s side every day, overseeing her busy schedule of physical, occupational and speech therapy. Their twin daughters, Olivia and Mary, visit with Phillip around their school schedules and riding. It’s a routine that has become the new normal for the family.
A few years back Henry "Hank" Nothhaft wrote the popular business book "Great Again" about how America can revitalize its innovation leadership and kick-start the economy again.
On a Monday in early March Kelly Smith, founder of Omega Horse Rescue, walked through the barns at New Holland Sales Stables as she has for the past 27 years. On this auction day she bought a mini stallion, two thoroughbreds, a draft cross and a quarter horse mare too weak to make it to slaughter that she had euthanized.
She said she could have saved more horses – at least one more, an American Saddlebred - had she been able to take a picture of him and send it to a Saddlebred rescue group, but she was not allowed to do so.
Smith said she believes the horse was loaded on a kill buyer’s van and headed for slaughter.
Grit. It’s not just the stuff that gets stuck in the treads of your sneakers. It’s a way of living, a way of taking on life’s challenges with optimism and diligence. And it’s even reached that pinnacle of “big ideas,” the TED stage. University of Pennsylvania psychologist and MacArthur “Genius” Angela Duckworth has studied what separates successful individuals—students, doctors, salespeople, athletes—from those who struggle and often quit or fail. It all starts, Duckworth says, in childhood. She says that “grit, a child’s perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” is a better predictor—better even than either IQ or talent! —of the kinds of successes that child will have in the future—from career, to earnings and even to happiness.
Author Jenny Williams offers several keys to developing grit, from finding and cultivating a passion, to “recognizing that frustration, confusion and practice are par for the course,” to learning that “failure is not the end.” So, what does grit look like in person? It looks a lot like a Pony Club member.
“Being part of this for so long,” Joe Naji of North Wales, PA says about what Pony Club has meant to him, “staying committed to one thing as long as you can, you develop resilience, and that’s a big lesson.” He was a member for more than 15 years, and now competes in Mounted Games. A recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he’s planning a career in medicine.
Jake Chalfin has taken on a new role as advocate for PA For The Cure in support of spinal cord disability research. Facing his own paralysis, Chalfin personally understands the issues faced by those with such injuries.
As an amateur steeplechase jockey, Chalfin was paralyzed by a fall on Sept, 18 2010 at the Blue Ridge Point to Point Races.
The immediate financial impact of the major medical bills was huge, far exceeding medical insurance coverage. Chalfin’s friends and family banded together to create a fundraising committee and a medical trust.
Fundraising efforts helped renovate Chalfin’s house in Springdale, Chester County, PA, to accommodate his wheelchair and help fund his care and therapy.
“I’m very fortunate, I had a career and a college degree. I was fortunate to maintain the use of my hands. I could go back to work and support my family. Mine was a cervical injury, I’m lucky to have my hands at all,” he said. “I’m healthy, I do have my struggles with complications but I manage them. I have a wonderful wife, I got married about a year and a half ago.”