Cornet Noir Presented by Deborah McAlexander.
Deborah is receiving a rigorous education in the discipline of Dressage from Kai Handt, North Texas Equestrian Center of Excellence Owner and Head Trainer,
Past USEF Para-Equestrian Chef d’Equipe.
“Deborah, you have Retinitis Pigmentosa and will be totally blind and totally deaf by the age of thirty.”
These cutting words from a renowned retina specialist at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis were like a death sentence to me, destroying my positive, energetic spirit and shattering my dreams. Accepting, understanding, and adjusting to blindness has strengthened my insight of complex situations and problems and has sharpened my foresight to navigate around, over, or under life’s obstacles and challenges. Blindness does not define who I am. Blindness does reveal who I am. Through my horses, my music, and my faith, I have learned how to transcend and transform tribulation into triumph and, in the process, I have discovered the key to a victorious life’s ride: all things are possible when one rides by faith, not by sight!
During Life’s Ride, bad things happen to good people; however, the battles we face and the obstacles we overcome, both personally and professionally, offer us endless opportunities to learn, grow, and prosper in spite of catastrophic circumstances. Throughout my lifetime, adversity has frequently bucked me off my horse, slammed me into one treacherous sinkhole after another, and buried me under shovel loads of suffocating dirt. Besides blindness, some of these “bad things” included:
• Abandonment at birth by my biological mother
• The divorce of my adoptive parents during my teenage years
• The death of my husband on November 6, 2017, after his fifteen-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Bodies Dementia
Because adversity happens to everyone, my story of overcoming trials and suffering cuts through every boundary between anyone and me. At the age of twenty-four, I was challenged to redirect the focus of my life when I became blind in my left eye, and the eyesight in my right eye was reduced to less than a five-degree field of center tunnel vision. At that time, I was a scholarship performance violinist at the St. Louis Conservatory of Music.
The ophthalmologist’s diagnosis, “You have Retinitis Pigmentosa and will be totally blind and totally deaf by the age of thirty,” plummeted my life into a downward tailspin of terror. Every morning I woke up wondering if I would be able to see or hear. My dream of becoming a professional violinist was shattered and my positive, energetic spirit was broken. For several years I wandered through life without direction, and yes, I did a splendid job of sitting on the “pity pot.”
Please study this Goldman Field Test dated June 10, 2019.
Dr. Robert Wankum, Ophthalmologist, Jefferson City, Missouri wrote, “Deborah sees the world as if looking through a straw. Despite this debilitation, she has learned to function with the limited vision that remains. She is an accomplished horsewoman, winning or placing in at least one hundred equestrian competitions. She falls off, dusts off, and then gets back in the saddle. This is courage in the face of fire! This is inspiration!”
Now that everyone understands how I see, imagine what it’s like for me to try to control a powerful, unpredictable, 1,400-pound horse with a mind of its own that doesn’t speak English?
My passion for horses and training for competition has taught me this lesson: victory is measured not so much by the color of the ribbon, the medal, one's wealth, or the position one reaches in life, as by the obstacles overcome while trying to achieve victory. Blindness does not define who I am. Blindness does reveal who I am.
My passion for horses and training for competition has taught me this lesson: victory is measured not so much by the color of the ribbon, the medal, one’s wealth, or the position one reaches in life, as by the obstacles while trying to achieve victory. Blindness does not define who I am. Blindness compels me to strive to become an excellent Para Dressage athlete.
I have exciting news about a significant change of direction in my Life’s Ride Journey! I am the FIRST visually impaired US equestrian to receive confirmed international classification from the International Blind Sports Federation. My goal is to qualify for the United States Para-Dressage Team and compete internationally, including Paralympics and World Equestrian Games. For these reasons, I have closed my piano studio after twenty-nine years of teaching and will continue dressage training with Kai Handt, Owner and Head Trainer, at North Texas Equestrian Center of Excellence (NTEC) in Wylie, TX.
I have estimated that the cost of this Para Dressage journey will be $133,600 per year.
To help pay for training, equipment, a competition horse and event fees, I will be booking educational, inspirational, motivational multi-media presentations based on the disciplines of Dressage necessary for a triumphant ride in the performance arena of life. Please contact me at email@example.com to schedule a speaking engagement.
To gain financial support, I have successfully established a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, VISION BEYOND EYESIGHT INC, a tax exempt public charity, which allows donors to deduct contributions made. The EIN is 83-2358219.
Contributions may be sent to:
VISION BEYOND EYESIGHT INC
P.O. BOX 105242
Jefferson City, MO 65110
I have also established a GoFundMe account for online contributions.