King-Dye Receives 2012 FEI 'Against All Odds Award'

The helmet awareness campaign Riders4Helmets has announced that 2008 Olympian and traumatic brain injury survivor Courtney King-Dye has been named the recipient of the 2012 Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Against All Odds Award.

"The FEI Awards were launched in 2009 to show the world what extraordinary people there are in the equestrian community and to reward them with public recognition of their work," said HRH Princess Haya, FEI President. "This year's winners have demonstrated talent, commitment, generosity and courage and we are extremely proud of them."

King-Dye suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2010 after a horse she was riding tripped and fell, putting her in a coma for four weeks. King-Dye, who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, has endured intensive rehabilitation therapy over the past two and a half years and still suffers coordination and speech difficulties.

"I normally don't care much about awards or prizes, but this one was very meaningful because it's done through nominations," said King-Dye. "Anyone can make a nomination and just the fact that people thought of me means my accident affected people, gives it value. The fact that my accident brought such attention to safety, particularly helmet use, gives it a purpose. I wouldn't do it again mind you, but if it saves one life, it makes it seem worthwhile."

King-Dye strongly believes the FEI should make wearing helmets a rule in dressage as they have done in show jumping and other equestrian sport in competition on all levels at all ages.

"While we can't control what people do at home we can control what people do at shows and like with show jumping it creates a habit," she said. "Many people came up expressing their sympathetic gratitude, my response to which I've said before but I think bears repeating: 'I think my accident was necessary in the fight for safety because an Olympian who sustains a brain injury while riding proves that injury has nothing to do with level of skill. For 15 years, I was a person who only rode the young or dangerous horses with a helmet, but my horse did nothing naughty; he just tripped over his own feet.' "

Since her accident, King-Dye has been a huge advocate of the Riders4Helmets campaign and has produced several videos, in addition to being featured in numerous articles in order to get the message of helmet wearing out to equestrians around the globe.

"The Riders4Helmets campaign was founded in April 2010 as a direct result of Courtney King-Dye's accident," said Lyndsey White, Riders4Helmets founder. "Riders4Helmets is immensely proud of Courtney for winning the 2012 FEI Against All Odds Award. Courtney sharing her story has enabled some of the stigma associated with suffering a traumatic brain injury to be dispelled as she has shown the equestrian world that great things can result from one's own personal misfortune if you have the right attitude. Courtney's videos and stories on have been viewed by more than 100,000 people and have no doubt convinced numerous equestrians around the globe to ride with a helmet."

While still undergoing rehabilitation therapy, Courtney qualified for the U.S. Paralympic team selection trials for London 2012 but made the decision to put her goal of once again representing her country on hold and will now aim to qualify for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, taking place in Normandy, France.

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