‘You Don’t Want To End Up Like Me’: Former Jockey Suffering From Chronic Head Trauma Denied Financial Assistance

by | 03.15.2017 | 6:15pm
Jocson training for the 2010 Lady Legends race

In late 2015, a feature published on the Paulick Report detailed the story of retired jockey Gwen Jocson, who was diagnosed with neurological damage as a result of numerous head injuries suffered during her riding career. Jocson's story came just as mainstream media (and Hollywood) were facing the ugly reality that a degenerative brain disorder called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) plagues an unknown percentage of football players, apparently the result of repeated concussions on the field. Jocson, who suffers from poor balance, partial deafness, vision problems, limited mobility, and weak short-term memory, had hoped by sharing her story, she could let other riders know repeated concussions can have real impacts.

Given the seriousness of those symptoms, it never occurred to Jocson that her condition would not be officially recognized as a permanent and total disability. In 2016, the rider whose mounts earned more than $7 million was informed she had not qualified for assistance from the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. On most days, Jocson's eyesight precludes her from reading. Her mother, Sadie Herndon, had to read the PDJF's letter to her.

There's a lot the medical community still doesn't know about concussions and chronic head trauma. Doctors still don't know why some athletes end up with serious neurological conditions as a result of repeated traumas while others don't, and they don't know how long symptoms related to chronic traumas take to surface. It's also unknown how many people already have or can be expected to develop CTE, let alone how many jockeys have or will suffer from the condition.

That question mark could be an enormous financial liability for a group like the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

According to documents provided to Jocson by the PDJF, she is the first rider to request aid from the fund for a condition resulting from cumulative damage as opposed to a single catastrophic fall.

“In prior instances the PDJF has awarded benefits to injured jockeys, the disabling medical condition such as paraplegia, quadriplegia, and brain damage has been associated with a single catastrophic on-track accident in which the injuries were immediately apparent,” said Nancy LaSala, president of the PDJF.

To Jocson, the distinction doesn't seem very important. Her doctors have diagnosed her with the brain disease, superficial siderosis, due to multiple falls on the track, and they say she likely has CTE too. Currently, CTE can only be confirmed absolutely on autopsy, but Jocson isn't the first athlete who has been told by neurologists they're extremely likely to be suffering from the condition. Jocson and Herndon are told neither of these conditions are reversible; whatever time the rider has left will be spent managing her symptoms. Jocson still falls often due to her lack of balance and sleeps on the floor to avoid falling when getting out of bed. She crawls around her house when she's alone and works with therapists and psychiatrists to improve mobility, balance, and sleep. She doesn't expect she'll be able to drive much longer.

In the midst of all this, her bills are piling up. Herndon has taken over managing her daughter's bills and successfully enrolled Jocson in Medicare, but it's not retroactive for the expenses she incurred before her enrollment. Herndon makes a project of calling around to charities near her home in South Carolina to see if anyone is able to provide Jocson some help.

“When I first heard about the football players [and expenses related to CTE], I thought, ‘What are they complaining about, with all the money they make?'” Jocson said. “Now, I understand. When you're getting what I am with the bills, you can't save nothing.”

Neurologic disorders are expensive, and Jocson suspects that could be at the heart of the PDJF's rejection of her application for assistance; she believes the fund is unable to open the door for other riders like her to request assistance. The National Football League has been accused of wiggling out of responsibility under league insurance in disability claims related to head trauma. Whether the league is unwilling to open itself to financial load by admitting head trauma can be disabling, or concerned about additional liability outside the scope of its insurance plan, is anyone's guess.

The PDJF disagrees with Jocson's viewpoint on their motives for her rejection.

In a letter to Jocson dated Oct. 15, 2016, LaSala indicated the PDJF had questions as to the degree of Jocson's disability. After all, Jocson did participate in a Lady Legends charity race at Pimlico in 2010, 10 years after she retired from riding. Jocson told the Paulick Report in late 2015 videos of her performance in the race make it clear to her that her coordination and balance had begun deteriorating at that point. The progression of her symptoms escalated in the years after the race.

PDJF logoAccording to the letter, an independent medical examiner's report did “not support a conclusion of total disability. The medical examiner's report declined to provide a specific impairment rating and replied as follows: ‘As an occupational physician, this examinee would not pass a pre-hire physical. However, if her employer has jobs that would accommodate her I would say, I do not believe she could handle eight hours a day of work. She would fatigue in two to four hours.'”

The PDJF letter continued: “While the medical examinations you have provided and the independent medical report we secured establish a degree of impairment, it was not clear your medical condition is totally and permanently disabling to the same degree as other permanently disabled jockeys to whom we have provided benefits.”

Dr. Irwin Lifrak, an attorney and physician who has consulted with Jocson on her application to the PDJF, said it can be difficult to pin down exactly what constitutes “disability.” Whether or not someone is employable depends not only on their physical and mental health, but their skillset and the availability of an appropriate job in their geographic area.

“If someone would find a job where she could sit in a chair and check off boxes as they went off an assembly line, yeah, she could probably do that,” said Lifrak. “If it required higher mental functioning, then probably not.”

Lifrak said he has sympathy with the PDJF's situation and wouldn't blame the group if the rationale for Jocson's rejection had been the nature of her condition.

“We're dealing with somewhat competing needs. On the one hand, there's no doubt that Gwendolyn does have a neurologic deficit,” said Lifrak. “I can understand, actually, the PDJF's problem. They're working with limited funds. They have a responsibility not to spend or distribute that money in a careless manner. So, to them, it's not a question so much of, ‘Does Gwendolyn experience a neurologic deficit?' but ‘Is it something that's compensable under their guidelines?'”

Still, LaSala said the fund has not and will not deny an applicant assistance based on the condition causing their disability.

“The PDJF is aware that sports medicine is focusing on repetitive brain trauma as a basis for finding permanent and total disability and has not precluded an award of benefits on that basis,” LaSala said. “Any such case would, however, have to demonstrate a permanent and total injury.”

That doesn't mean the fund is necessarily prepared to deal with a significant influx of riders suffering from total permanent injury from CTE, should that occur in the coming years. Since the PDJF's foundation in 2006, LaSala said she and the fund's board have been aware of the enormity of the costs associated with supporting a disabled rider, especially one with ongoing medical needs. Although some racetracks have paid into the fund routinely, others do not support it, and PDJF has been unable to raise the monthly stipend amount of $1,000 for the 60 riders it supports.

“Since the PDJF became operational 11 years ago, the PDJF board has been very cognizant of the fact that funding for the PDJF is not guaranteed,” said LaSala. “Due to the lack of guaranteed funding, the PDJF board as fiduciaries of the fund have not been able to increase (even to keep up with annual cost of living increases) the monthly stipend to our current recipients, although the PDJF recipients have seen their medical and living costs rise significantly over this lengthy period of time.”

Recipients of the fund's stipend say it has made the difference in some cases between paying and not paying their rent. Overall though, any notion of the sport supporting its own injured riders completely has never been a realistic one. According to one workers' compensation insurance expert, many jockeys are riding in states with limits on the total amount an injured worker may claim after a catastrophic accident. In most cases, that limit is $1 million.

Gwen Jocson

Gwen Jocson

“One million dollars won't get them out of the hospital,” said Brad McKinzie, who helped engineer California's self-insurance group for the state's riders and backstretch workers. McKinzie said the most expensive claim in the state for 2016 will be about $6 million to $7 million and is from an exercise rider who suffered neurological damage when a horse flipped.

Even with help, jockeys are left with a long, tough road ahead after a debilitating injury, whether it's suffered in one fall or a dozen.

It's hard to say whether Jocson is the first retired jockey to suffer from CTE, the first to be tentatively diagnosed with it, or just the first to speak publicly about it. Jocson remembers feeling suicidal before receiving her diagnosis, as she struggled to cope with symptoms she couldn't escape. That makes her wonder whether retired riders who have famously met with untimely deaths due to substance abuse and depression might have had their demons amplified by brain damage from repeated head traumas. (The clinical relationship between brain damage due to concussion and substance abuse is still poorly understood.)

It's a question that troubles Jocson because almost every exercise rider or jockey has suffered a concussion in his or her career. Jocson estimates she sustained at least 20 of them. There's little hope of eliminating head trauma from the equation when the job requires galloping horses at 35 miles per hour with the rider's head about eight feet off the ground. If Jocson is not considered totally and permanently disabled, she said, maybe she can still be a cautionary tale to young riders, who are cutting school like she once did, to spend more time in the saddle.

“When you're a 16-year-old kid and you fall off, you get back on. Even if your ears are ringing,” said Jocson. “It's not worth being like this. Most of us are never going to get to the top anyway, but you don't want to end up like me. Thank god I don't have children.”

  • Pete Sundar

    If anyone didn’t know it before, it is stories like this that won Natalie Voss the Eclipse Award.

  • mongo98

    Truth seems rare these days.

    • Ashley Chavis Perry

      What you mean?

  • BobF

    Can somebody explain to me why in 2017 jockeys wear helmets from 1950???

    Why don’t jockeys wear full helmets that are state of the art like motorcycle racers and provide maximum protection??

    • Bryan Langlois

      I am not sure of exact reason, but my guess is that it would add a lot of weight and actually be quite cumbersome for a jock to wear and still be able to move freely. Perhaps a streamlined model that was very lightweight could be possible. Also..being able to clear dirt and mud from the visor likely would be impossible (reason they wear multiple pairs of goggles.

      • billy

        They have automatic sliders like what a sprint car driver would use

    • SPA

      You make a good point, in harness racing it took Billy Haughton’s tragic accident to get drivers to wear better, thicker and safer helmets rather than the paper thin one’s of the 70’s. Still to this day there are people at farms who wear a baseball cap to jog and train.

    • Richard C

      These antiquated traditions surrounding sports headgear continue….unless mandatory change is forced through the ranks. In pro cycling, many riders acted as if blocks of cement were being placed on their heads when state-of-the-art helmets became mandatory — and in the NHL, the “toughness” of the sport was called into question when all players had to wear helmets.

    • Jbumi

      There was a story on ESPN on CTE (of course, they were talking about footballers rather than jockeys, but it makes the same point). They asked a sports doctor about helmets. He said to think of an onion in a jar full of water. The onion represents your brain. You can put a protective covering around the jar to keep it from breaking, but if you shake the jar it will still send the onion around like a pinball. Helmets can only provide minimal help against concussions/CTE – they really only help you from cracking your skull.

      • WT

        Excellent analogy. Until they can find a way to keep your brain from moving around in your skull (which probably isn’t a good idea) these type of injuries are going to occur. A better helmet is not the answer.

        • joe d

          another aspect of it would be, that they (the jockeys) probably wouldn’t be be able to ride the horses correctly. i would think they’re peripheral vision would be affected. (with the full helmet) ??

    • L.L. Kauffman

      Riding helmets have improved quite a bit in recent years, certainly since the 1950’s.

    • Robert

      BopF,

      The large part of jockeys riding today are not wearing helmets from 1950, but instead helmets that meet or exceed safety standards developed in Europe or North American. The helmets are a huge improvement in what they are designed for, to prevent skull fractures. There is no helmet of any kind for any sport that would prevent the g-forces sustained in an average fall. The skull stops, the free floating brain keeps moving.

    • Javier

      The helmets have been improved and modernized several times since then. One of the problems beside the fact that your brain still in motion during the fall, bouncing and bruising against the skull, is the cumbersome anything bigger would be, causing lack of much needed visibility.

  • Gotchagold

    I don’t know, it makes my heart ache for these people. Jockeys have always been my heroes and exercise people preform a job that is only less thankless than grooms and hotwalkers. Being only a fan, I was wondering if anyone thought that to help the PDJF that a piece of the huge purses that are given for say the Pegasus, the Breeders Cup and the Triple Crown etc. could be donated to this worthy cause. I know that many purses are being cut back, but the stakes that have these multi million dollar payoffs, maybe a potion of that money could be set aside and donated to the PDJF. It would be great publicity and do a hell of a lot of good. It seems to me that this industry is the worst at taking care of the folks who make the wheels turn. I understand this will be shot down as fantasy but something has to be done for these folks. $1000 a month is so, so not enough, but the PDFJ is doing the best they can. I would love for the new American Healthcare Act to help them,but I doubt it will since the last one didn’t help either.

    • tony trujillo

      $1000 a month! I broke my neck at Sunland Park N.Mex. some 30 years ago. The insurance paid me $50 a week and would not pay until I started riding again.

      • Gotchagold

        Very sorry to hear this Mr. Trujillo, but this injustice is one of the many shames our sport doesn’t address. I love this sport, but can’t understand why they can’t take better care of folks like yourself. I feel their isn’t anymore I can say to you, other than I hope the future can be changed for your brothers and sisters in racing.

    • Vendettaroad

      For the longest time, from what I’ve been able to ascertain – mid 60’s, race winning Trainers took 10% bonus from the owners purse winnings. Most Trainers would then divide up bonuses to the help 1% here 1 or 2% there, taking around 7 or 8% for himself. Somewhat equitable I guess, depending on the Trainer.
      Then in the last couple decades the rise of Super Stables. Hot shot Trainers with mega-wealthy owners, providing strings of horses at tracks all over. A bright idea enters the picture for the greedy. Charge multi- millionaire owners an additional 3% surcharge on a win to use as a bonus to stake throughout the barn (twice a year usually). How generous?
      The slick Trainers now get to keep all the previously established bonus stake of 10% on a win, yet able to keep the masses (barn help) seemingly happy by throwing them the small bones (bonuses). SLICK
      (*Trainers like the late great Allen Jerkens wouldn’t pull that and was generous to a fault – there are others)

      • Gotchagold

        Vendetttaroad, I only worked for one trainer, a very small trainer for only one summer. I do remember how excited the barn was when we finally got a win and when we got our “stake” we were so very excited and grateful. It’s sad to hear it has changed that way. Thanks for the insight.

  • wmk3400

    I remember Gwen Jocson when she rode at Philly Park (Parx) and never knew what happened to her. She was fairly successful and all I can say is out of sight, out of mind. I am terribly sorry to read this. I’m just an average horseplayer who often forgets the risks that jockeys take with their every mount. I can only hope that Ms. Jocson can find some degree of peace and comfort in her life and who knows perhaps there’ll be a treatment or cure for whatever ails her. Again, I’m terribly sorry to read this.

  • ShuveeIL

    I believe the 8th paragraph should more correctly read that Jocson was enrolled by her mother in MediCAID which is a public assistance program open to people all ages, not MediCARE which is an entitlement reserved for Americans aged 65 and over. Perhaps a correction is in order, Natalie.

    • youcantmakeitup

      You can get Medicare two years after you have been diagnosed as disabled.

      • ShuveeIL

        Thank you for that clarification. :-)

    • Quilla

      Federal Retirement Benefits = Medicare.

    • ziggypop

      Medicare is not an “entitlement”. We pay into that program from the day we start a job that pulls taxes out of the check, or we pay taxes on as independent contractors on our tax forms.

      • Teddy

        Lots of broke down Grooms who didn’t make half the money Jockeys jaded out there no talks about I no I’m one !!
        TL

    • tony trujillo

      Read the news!!! D. Trump is trying to do away with Medicade.

  • FastBernieB

    It is unfortunate, but many (not all) in the game view jockeys (and all backstretch personnel) as interchangeable and disposable. If half a cent from every wagered dollar was set aside to provide for injured and disabled industry workers, this story and others like it would have a far more satisfactory outcome. However, because that would mean a small drop in purse or tax revenue, it will never happen.

    • Laura Kime

      You hit the nail on the head

  • albert

    Not surprising I was injured in 03 disabled put on welfare yrs past by lawsuit a disaster don Macbeth helped some pdjf lack of help better word for them actually got more help with food stamps than pdjf I do remember 10 yrs ago they said I’ll get back to u ha ha still waiting

  • cathy r

    One of the toughest gals on horseback! Heck of a rider. Very sorry to hear this.

  • Sherry

    I feel for ya because i have stress fractures in my upper back that are getting worse everyday. And a sciatic nerve thats off the hook because of injures from riding races . no help. Sorry bout everything Sherry.

  • Denise Steffanus

    Another outstanding story by Natalie Voss. KUDOS!

  • George wood

    Damn my third concussion in a year knocked my great eyesight out from horse stumbling and cracking my face on way down and headaches and good eyesight gone, need glasses

  • admiral1584

    The key quote is by Gwen who states “Most of us are never going to get to the top anyway.” Gwen climbed the pole higher than most and was a favorite of mine as a rider who always gave her best. I saw her go down hard at Philly one time in the backstretch. Maybe that was her last hard spill I don’t recall. However all that being said it’s true there’s a lot of riders who should not be riding (and horses who should not be racing) but continue to chase the dream. They’re the ones who gallop cheap, sore horses in the A.M. for no money so they can pick up the mount in the afternoon or night. All that being said every rider who has a spill either in the AM or during the races and whether or not they pop right back up should undergo at the least a Glasgow Coma Scale test. In addition every rider should undergo a CT or MRI at once a year to diagnose any possible brain damages. And the cost should be borne by the racetracks.

    • Vendettaroad

      Particularly lately there has been a lot a talk about the juicers, those treacherous supposed HORSEMAN who use drugs on horses in their care.
      It makes many wonder how many Jockeys or gallop personnel have been busted up by drugged horses?
      More than a few.

  • Drew Mollica

    A brilliant piece of journalism! This is an issue that all of us in racing need to understand better . . . but one look at the NFL is all one needs to know that the the issue is real, the question is . . . in an industry struggling who is willing to take it on?? We can and should do better but lots of questions few answers. Thoughts welcome! Maybe a study group? Maybe a fact finding commission? I am open to participating.

    • Douglas Amos

      Your voice has more strength than most Drew and thanks for your Involvement. Everybody knows about the junkets and freebies and influence peddling attached to the business. Few acknowledge the paraplegics the business churns out. Which leaves it at the door of workmen’s comp and that probably has the best chance for success while being the most expedient. For sure, given how expensive those premiums are, it cannot be impossible to establish a reasonable safety net for everyone in the business that assumes the risk.

  • copperhead

    Doctors and hospitals can essentially bill your family (or the insurance company or medicare) for hundreds of thousands of dollars and there is no price negotiation for you the patient- either die or sign away 10 years of income like an indentured servant. The cost of the billed medical expenses is at the heart of why insurance with good coverage is ridiculously expensive to you or your employer and no one (professional organizations, nonprofits, government..) wants to be left holding the bag for the liabilities. Given how much relatively common medical conditions cost (the last time I needed urgent care the doctor saw me for *15 minutes* and billed my insurance for a few thousand on top or the hospitals other charges. I wish I could have gone to to a vet, I could have gotten the same care for a few hundred) I can’t imagine how much this family is in debt to the hospitals.

    Perhaps since PR has documented this woman’s charitable need, you can arrange for a link with the story for some way for readers, if they are in a position to do so, to help.

  • Camilla Osterman

    I have the same problems – just not as bad – from falling off horses. Thanks heaven I now live in Sweden and I feel so sorry when I read this.

  • Frank Albert Belanger

    my brother Richard Belanger, brain injury survivor, still suffers, and the symptoms are getting worse with age….. He is no longer able to manage his life, and of course the help is minimal or non existing. The damages are permanent.

  • Kelly

    I will never be able to say enough to express just how much respect I have always had for jockeys and the constant pain they are expected to endure in silence, whether it be from injuries, starvation, dehydration, or mental. If I tried, this comment would take up the page. My heart goes out to Jocson.

  • Leslie Navarro

    I am sorry to hear about your injury. My husband had a terrible accident in 2015 which he has suffered permanent brain damage, loss of hearing, weakness in his legs, ringing and buzzing in his ears chronic headaches. He had 3 brain surgeries and was in a coma and I also reached out to PDJF and they had me fill out a stack of papers and when I asked for help never responded. I guess you have to be in a wheelchair to get any help. They don’t realize how serious brain injuries are. I totally understand and sympathize with you.

  • Michael Buckings

    Very real, and if the injury is from negligence of the chrb ignoring safety then they blackball you for rules that don’t exist. Refuse to make any reports on the accident even though the law says they must. Try to make a complaint and they refuse to hear it or accept it. I never would have believed the dispicable things the people I once believed were looking out for us helmets out there.

  • Jo

    Its so sad to read this of what this poor woman and other jockeys have been through! All i have seen from reading this article is that these professional jockeys devote their life, blood and sweat to the career, and they go unnoticed of the hard work they put in. They devote their lives to this and in the end they are cast aside after their careers end due to injury, illness, or retirement. They were there everyday and gave it their all, now why can’t the PDJF give at least a little of what these human beings deserve, after all they worked hard for them and this is their repayment? Wow, simply amazing.

  • Ann M. Adam

    I have wondered if substance abuse wasn’t often cause by chronic pain from injury not addiction, especially in athletes since they know the health hazards of the abuse. I happen to think this caused the “accident” that took the life of Bill Shoemaker and perhaps it was the cause of his divorce too. What happened seemed to happen to a very different person than the Willie I had met so early in his career.

  • Bunny Hart

    Maybe we who love horse racing can start a Go Fund Me account for her to help her with her medical expenses and with life’s challenges. I’d put my money up. Would you?

    • Jennifer McManigell

      Yes!

  • Gene

    PDJF should be disbanded, what a lowlife move. Help some, worried about the bottom line your worthless.

    • Steampunk Sweetheart

      Which paraplegic or quadriplegic rider receiving a stipend would you suggest they cut off to cover her? “Non profit” does not mean “Operates in a magical world of fairies and lollipops where funding is limitless and every full time professional employee managing the organization is a volunteer who works 40+ hour weeks out of the pure goodness of their heart and offices are mystical realms with no rent or utilities and supplies miraculously buy themselves.” If anything an NFP must be MORE concerned about the bottom line. Screwing up your finances can mean losing donors, losing tax status, and then nobody gets help because the NFP’s closed. The disturbing part is that there are more people than they can financially help and they have to make calls.

  • smchapman2

    I was unaware there is a statute of limitations on the time to receive benefits, much like
    9/11 responders. Football players? Boxers? Brain damage sometimes manifests slowly.

  • Bob Quinn

    Another reason for us to ditch our healthcare for profit system an adopt what every other major industrialized country has had for decades. Single payer, Medicare for all from birth to death. It’s the right thing to do.

  • Vendettaroad

    Very, very sad.
    Yes there’s a great disparity in the distribution of money’s ~~~
    So few – So much / So many – So little.
    Would be nice if a study was done to try to balance the scale more equitably.

    EMPATHY EQUITY SURCHARGE FUND ¢
    It seems to me a system that included percentile surcharges – perhaps based on yearly MEDIAN INCOME “levels” based solely on Purse Bonus Awards.
    TIER 1 Level – Jockeys who earn top Purse Bonuses would pay the same percentage as the lesser successful rider in the gate next to him. Although they would pay more into the fund (Median Income) they still economically benefit proportionally.
    TIER 2 Level – Trainers supposedly are required in most jurisdictions to carry ‘workmens compensation insurance’. They also must also contribute a reasonable percentile of their total yearly “Median Income” from Purse Bonuses alone.
    The higher level of racing, the Purse Bonuses inflate considerably. The surcharge percentage remains the same but revenue contributed increases.
    *The successful REMAIN RICH – while the “risk takers” in THOROUGHBRED RACING GAIN SECURITY AGAINST CALAMITIES!

  • Penny Cornell

    While she may be the 1st to ask PDJF for help due to CTE (Now we are learning more about it.), she’d not the 1st former TBI to be denied by the PDJF.

    While JOHNNY W. GRIZZARD JR., has not been to his appointment with a Neurologist for updates, he demonstrates MANY, MANY of the symptoms associated with the postmortem condition CTE.

    In MAY 25, 1986, NEBRASKA

    Johnny was riding a claimer, OFTEN RIDERS R NOT TOLD, their horse has/had been stacked (With pain killers), this is more common in claiming races.

    Prior to the race their had been a trench dug to run a cable for a Reba concert. The filly hit that trench just right, snapped both front legs.

    Johnny laid in a COMA for 34 days, followed by months of rehab in Tulsa, OK. During that time while learning to do basic things we take for granted like tie our shoes, etc… (HARD TO IMAGINE JUST A SHORT FEW MONTHS B 4 HE WAS COCKING A STICK IN HIS FINGERS WHILE BALANCING A TOP A MOUNT CHARGING OUT OF THE GATES, & LATER WHEN THE MOMENT CALLED FOR IT, ROLLING A STICK THRU HIS FINGERS IN ORDER TO CHANGE THE HAND HE NEEDED TO USE TO WHIP HIS MOUNT, ALL w/in just a few hundred feet.),

    During rehab, & b 4 returning to the track again, he was forced to watch as another horse that he had help break & was most undoubtedly his best mount that year continued to go on without him on top, that year COPPER BUGS ran 2nd in the ALL AMERICAN (Quarter horse version of the Triple Crown).

    Around 2007 or so John sent ALL his records he had, his hope was if he could get help so to save his farm was too denied.

    John did return to the track, and had some success in training, but it just never compensated for that feeling that he had been cheated out of something, even while knowing it’s a deadly sport.

    To date, as his wife, and someone that knew him before as far back as 8th grade, there are certain characteristics you know about ppl, in general, during the high of his career, later in life while in college I worked along side of him, new to the track, naturally I groomed, but bouts with depression & rage were not at all characteristics he displayed then.

    To date, after being domestically together since 2000, early on, head aches were an issue, so we went to St Francis in Tulsa & at that time, we were led ENT & he had a deviated septum repaired that helped with head aches.

    However, after several bouts with John & mood swings & what is classified as domestic abuse, this year I entered into a Safenet program & left the house. While a very good program, it too is not pre-paired for what I see ppl like me, ppl (& Later a room mate of mine), that come from homes that are what I call ABUSIVE DUE TO MEDICAL CONDITIONS (DEMENTIA, & for my friend, GERIATRIC DEMENTIA both resulting in VIOLENT RAGE, often as in my case, resulting in the ppl around them to exit.).

    Because my business plan/fund raiser I’ve been working to get off the ground involves equipment that could be used along side state vets during pre-race evaluations, & as a result of Johns condition, staying on top of CTE, Punch Drunk, and such are all a part of what I’m seeking to do to help someday.

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