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