Sue Epstein, who divides her time between Park City and upstate New York, was accustomed to accomplishment. Having competed in equestrian competitions, served as director of a therapeutic horseback riding organization and cycled all over the world in places such as Italy and Slovenia, Sue assumed those days were now over. Diagnosed with Glioblastoma in the motor strip at age 62, Sue was given the choice to let the brain tumor take her life, or to live with a disability. To Sue, the choice was clear. Following surgery, the entire right side of Sue’s body became immobile. She’s fortunate to not have suffered cognitive effects.
“I STILL CRY HAPPY TEARS WHEN I THINK HOW MUCH IT MEANS TO ME TO BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN SPORTS. I DIDN’T EXPECT TO BE TREATED WITH THE DIGNITY THAT I’VE RECEIVED HERE. ” -SUE EPSTEIN
It was her friend Marla Beebe who encouraged her to try adaptive horseback riding. Sue didn’t want to bother: “I’m not used to being ‘disabled,’” she shared. “I really didn’t expect to love it.”
But she did, and now she can’t get enough.
An avid horseback rider prior to her diagnosis, Sue expected to be treated like a beginner. However the equestrian staff met her at her level, and challenged her accordingly.
I CAN’T WALK FAST, SO IT’S THE FEELING OF WIND IN MY FACE THAT I LOVE
“Marci [equestrian programs manager] got who I am immediately,” Sue explained. “She didn’t lead me around at all.”
Horseback riding is Sue’s first love. She owns two horses and thanks to her positive experience at the National Ability Center, she is now working toward competing again.
“I still cry happy tears when I think how much it means to me to be able to participate in sports. I didn’t expect to be treated with the dignity that I’ve received here. ”
Another program Sue has thrived in is our adaptive cycling program, after being “nagged” repeatedly by Sara Bartlett, NAC volunteer and board member. Sue acquiesced, and fell in love all over again with the freedom cycling has given her. “I can’t walk fast, so it’s the feeling of wind in my face that I love,” she said.
Participating at the National Ability Center, Sue has increased her activity level and has seen definite improvement in her balance as well as an increase in her bodily strength.
I JUST LOVE HOW OUR NETWORK CONNECTS US TO WHAT WE NEED—IF WE PAY ATTENTION.
Now that she’s back east in upstate New York, she’s purchased a recumbent bike of her own, knowing the importance of keeping active. Sue’s recipe for a healthy lifestyle? Exercise, eat right and have a strong network of friends. After all, it was Sue’s friends who urged her to get involved with the NAC, each of them refusing to take no as an answer.
Reflecting on her journey, Sue shared, “I just love how our network connects us to what we need—if we pay attention.”
Join the National Ability Center this summer for cycling and more! Request a program reservation.