CDS EB Member Holly Lovejoy’s Article Recently Featured on

Flying Close To The Sun – A Relentless Journey of Disability, Life, and Soul

by Holly Lovejoy

I don’t know if I ever would’ve learned the meaning of life without a horse. Sure, no one really knows the meaning of life, but as a kid growing up in a situation that often proved to be stranger than fiction, this became an even more complex and frustrating idea. When I say stranger than fiction, I mean it; I was born at 29 weeks premature as the largest of a set of accidental triplets. I don’t know if you can really say that I was any kind of “large” at only 2lbs 13oz, but I guess my ego never got the memo. Not much came easily to me in childhood, but that is par for the course when you are born with spastic cerebral palsy. My early life is mostly memories of physical therapy in clinics that I never had much appreciation for, to say the least. Even as a toddler, I was hyper aware of my differences and inability to be independent. Despite this, I could never be quiet, or let myself go unseen. It was a challenge for anyone to get me to tolerate traditional therapies. Someone suggested hippotherapy (equine riding therapy) to my mother when I was barely two years old, and I guess that was the beginning of the end for my poor parents.To this day, my non-horsey mother remains in my riding life as my regular groom. I can absolutely say that the first happy memories I have happened on the back of a plucky pony. For a child who couldn’t stand unaided, there was an indescribable feeling of freedom and joy in being able to make a horse take a step from the sound of your voice.

I grew more aware of my disability in time, and of how society didn’t seem to know what to do with me, in a bigger picture kind of way. I can remember vividly the first time I saw the Paralympics on TV. I remember the excitement and curiosity of seeing something I could finally relate to, something more grand and thrilling than I had ever thought possible for someone with a disability. I’ll admit to feeling like something was wrong with me, and that is a thought I still battle with, something I am learning to heal from. Somehow, this whole Paralympics thing set right that wrong in my mind. I could feel equal, valued, and seen by the world. For a kid who had grown bored and frustrated even with hippotherapy, physical therapy on the back of a horse, this began a whole new world of ideas and dreams. I wanted nothing more than to go after gold, and I almost never imagined how those manic dreams would form into my current reality.

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