Hi I am Sydney!
I am an honor student at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have always loved riding and have competed in both eventing and jumping competitions. My dream was to one day compete at Rolex. However, a stroke in 2009 created challenges that would keep me from attaining that dream, but I did not give up. I was determined to continue to train and compete with able-bodied riders in dressage instead of eventing. Then, I attended the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010 and realized that I could still have a dream. My new dream to compete as a Para-equestrian was born.
At WEG I watched and met the elite Para-Dressage riders. I realized that my physical disabilities uniquely qualified me for Para-Equestrian Dressage. I began my new dream of becoming a member of the US Para-Dressage Team, and to share my knowledge with other disabled individuals in Michigan and across the country.
Back at home in Michigan, I train at Breakthrough Dressage with trainer, Jessie Myers. Jessie is the trainer at Bronze Mare Farms in Southeastern Michigan. I was also honored to be selected to train with Wes Dunham, one of the trainers for US Para-Equestrians. I am looking forward to traveling to Woodstock Stables in Millbrook, New York to train with him. Wes is an accomplished dressage trainer and rider who works with both able-bodied and Para-dressage riders. Wes has recently returned from competition at the 2012 London Paralympics with Paralympian Donna Ponessa.
At the age of seven, a routine vision screening changed my life forever. A slight vision difference between my right and left eyes led to a diagnosis of an extremely rare congenital birth defect known as Wyburn–Mason Syndrome. Wyburn-Mason Syndrome affects less than 0.14 % of the entire world’s population and can cause brain hemorrhaging, stroke, paralysis or death if untreated.
The location of the AVM's in Wyburn-Mason Syndrome are very dangerous. My AVM’s are very deep within the center of my right brain, and along my right optic nerve. The doctors in Michigan diagnosed my AVM’s as untreatable. However, my mother began an exhaustive search for a treatment and found a wonderful group of doctor’s at Stanford University Hospital in Palo Alto, California. They were willing to attempt experimental treatments that offered a potential cure, or at least a reduction of my health risks.
In June 2007, at the age of 8, I began many medical treatments and hospitalizations. These included multiple staged CyberKnife radiation treatments to my brain and eye; a series of three unplanned brain surgeries; and a second untested course of CyberKnife radiation treatments to remove the AVM’s in my brain. As a result, I completely lost the vision in my right eye and suffered a stroke that caused the loss of the use of the left side of my body. Additionally, I endured countless hours of physical and occupational therapy to relearn to walk and use the left side of my body. Despite my physical difficulties, I continued to ride and train.
My medical status changes each day, but it has not stopped me from attending school, riding, training, and doing most of the things that teenagers do. I understand that the effects of CyberKnife radiation occur slowly over a period of three years. These effects can have positive and negative consequences for my physical abilities. So, to compensate for these changes and to improve the condition of my left side, I attend physical therapy. I also do exercises modified to aid my daily living.
Wentworth is a 16.2 hand, Hanoverian, born in 2003. He joined Team Para-Quest in November 2012. I am excited to train and compete with such an amazing horse.
Rebel Chip is my second wonderful horse. He is a Tobiano, American Paint Horse gelding. Chip is 15.3 hands tall. Chip and I have worked together since September 2010. Chip is a steady dependable mount for me. We have achieved a great relationship. I love Chip.