Sue-ellen Lovett

Dubbo Photo News - - News - – In­ter­view by Darcee Nixon

Blind Par­a­lympian, mo­ti­va­tional speaker, can­cer sur­vivor, and soon to lead a long dis­tance ride to fundraise for can­cer. Sue-ellen be­lieves: “Be­ing blind does not stop you mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.”

I was born on a 21,000-acre prop­erty in Mudgee, which Dad man­aged. I was very in­volved with stock horses on the farm – it was the most amaz­ing child­hood.

I was di­ag­nosed with Re­tini­tis Pig­men­tosa at 12 years old, which is where your sight grad­u­ally di­min­ishes un­til you be­come blind. As a wee lit­tle per­son, I was put down as a clumsy child. I ran into ta­ble legs all the time. When I was in first class, the prin­ci­pal called my par­ents up and sug­gested that I had an in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity. I couldn’t see the board, hence I wasn’t learn­ing. It took them a year and a half to pick that up. I’ve never had enough sight to hold a li­cence or any­thing like that. I was di­ag­nosed with cer­vi­cal can­cer in 1989 and I had three op­er­a­tions. I will be us­ing six dif­fer­ent horses on the ride, who are all ex-race­horses from the NSW re­hom­ing pro­gram, and I will have two sighted guides with me on the ride at any one time. The ride is a very big or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The Mudgee Lions Club are the Ride Co­or­di­na­tors, and they have co­or­di­nated nine other long-dis­tance rides that I have done, which has ac­cu­mu­lated to over 16,000 kilo­me­tres, rais­ing over $3.1 mil­lion. The gen­eros­ity of peo­ple has been amaz­ing. All the money raised from this ride is go­ing to the On­col­ogy Unit Well­ness Cen­tre at Dubbo Base Hos­pi­tal.

Desider­ata is my com­pe­ti­tion horse who I do in­ter­na­tional dres­sage with. I have com­peted at the Par­a­lympics twice: at At­lanta in ’96 and Syd­ney in 2000. I have also com­peted in the World Cham­pi­onships in Den­mark, where I was ranked fourth in the world, and I bronze medalled in the team event, which was pretty cool! Since 2000, I have com­peted solely in able bod­ies com­pe­ti­tions. Hope­fully early next year, I will be the first blind rider to ride Grand Prix, not just in Aus­tralia, but in the world, which will rock!

I have a won­der­ful spon­sor called Terry Snow, his fam­ily and the Snow Foun­da­tion. Terry spon­sors me, which pays for my lessons and al­lows me to get my horse out and com­pete. If peo­ple see us on the road, please stop and do­nate, or stop and have a chat. It’s

all about bring­ing the com­mu­nity to­gether. I’ve been asked two or three times ‘why are you still do­ing it? Don’t you know there’s a drought? Peo­ple are do­ing it tough’. Well, I don’t think any­one has told can­cer that. This is a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to bring peo­ple to­gether who are fight­ing can­cer, drought or no drought. Life’s what you make it. Be­ing blind is not a good enough rea­son to stop liv­ing. Do­na­tions can be made to the Mudgee Lions Club or ‘The Chal­lenge: Ride Against Can­cer’ Go Fund Me page.

Char­ity ride days and dates:

Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 6 – Leav­ing Dubbo, stay­ing in Geurie.

Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 7 – Welling­ton

Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 8 – Goolma

Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 9 – Mudgee

Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 10 – Gul­gong

Thurs­day, Oc­to­ber 11 – Dune­doo

Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 12 – Coolah

Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 13 – Bin­n­away

Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 14 – Rest day in Bin­n­away

Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 15 – Men­dooran

Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 16 – Gil­gan­dra

Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 17 – Col­lie

Thurs­day, Oc­to­ber 18 – War­ren

Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 19 – Trangie

Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 20 – Nar­romine

Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 21 – Fin­ish­ing in Dubbo

PHOTO: KATH HYDE.

Sue-ellen Lovett with her dres­sage horse Desider­ata and guide dog Amarni.

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