Paralyzed Canadian jockey Alyssa Selman was told by doctors this week that she has only a five percent chance of ever walking again, but she bubbled with talk of a dream house and horses on Thursday night in the Rehabilitation Ward at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre.
"The doctors gave me the standard explanation they give to anyone with this type of injury," said Selman, who remains hopeful in the face of the bad news. Now on less pain medication and able to sit up and think and speak clearly, the young mother of two said her mood is up and down as she begins to come to grips with the gravity of her situation, but she continues to smile when talking horses and a potential dream house.
For more information on donating to the Alyssa Selman Benefit Campaign or the Silent Auction at the fundraising social on July 19, please email Lori Mann or call her at (204) 391-0224, or call the Assiniboia Downs General Office at (204) 885-3330. Thank you!
Expected to be in the hospital for at least another three to six months, Selman said someone had contacted the family regarding a wheel-chair accessible house near Carmen, Manitoba that may come up for sale at a good price. Selman's current residence is a small two-story home in the hamlet of St. Lupicin, Manitoba, where she lives with her husband Rumesh, an exercise rider at Assiniboia Downs, and two children Ari (4) and Amar (7). The home in St. Lupicin would likely be impossible to live in for a person in a wheelchair.
"I tried out a pink and black wheelchair yesterday," said Selman, who also sat in a different type of wheelchair for most the day earlier in the week. "It's one that you wheel yourself. None of the guys here want to use it because of its colour, but they brought it out for me. I can push the wheels a little, but my back won't hold up for long with the pushing right now. Lori (Mann) was telling me about wheelchair tennis players. She might be on to something. She's been a real cheerleader for me here."
Selman was excited about the possibility of a wheel-chair accessible home that could come on the market. While finances were still up in the air, the state of the current fundraising gave her hope.
"It would allow me to function as a normal person with my kids," she said. "And I could keep my dogs. It would be my dream house."
The fundraising is indeed going well, with a benefit social scheduled for Sunday, July 19 at 7 p.m. at Assiniboia Downs. Silent auction prizes continue to flow into a special room at the track.
"The people in Winnipeg are very giving," said Camelot Introductions owner Lianne Tregobov as she helped Lori Mann organize and wrap prizes for the benefit. "They see something like this and you find out how very caring they are. All you have to do is ask."
Items are also coming in from across North America for the benefit, including some exceptional horse memorabilia, such as a photo display of Secretariat in the Winner's Circle at the 1973 Kentucky Derby that is set beside a Kentucky Derby program signed by jockey Ron Turcotte and Secretariat's owner Penny Chenery.
Robbie King, Executive Director of the Jockeys Benefit Association of Canada on Facebook, will be in Winnipeg on Sunday to visit Selman and attend the fundraising benefit, and he's bringing a check for up to $10,000 gathered from all the jockeys across Canada. King also said that he had a print of 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome signed by jockey Victor Espinoza, and that Stronach Stable's Racing President, Mr. Mike Rogers, and trainer Brian Lynch, had donated the halter of the 2015 Queen's Plate Winner Shaman Ghost, as an auction item for the Selman benefit. On Friday, a halter came in from the connections from super horse Zenyatta, and on Saturday, a halter came in from Triple Crown winner Zayat Stable's American Pharoah with a signed win picture and video from trainer Bob Baffert!
The GoFundMe campaign set up for Alyssa Selman recently slipped over the $9,000 mark with a donation from trainer Graham Motion, who won the 2011 Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom, and sharing on social media was recently highlighted by a tweet from The Blood Horse to its 36,000 followers on Twitter. Ray Paulick, author of the Paulick Report, has also been actively tweeting about Selman's fundraising benefit to his 15,000 followers on Twitter, as have numerous racetracks and individuals.
Elite thoroughbred journalist Steve Haskin, former chief writer at The Blood Horse and the author of popular Blood Horse blogs "Hangin with Haskin" and "Haskin's Derby Dozen" kicked off much of the social media sharing for Selman with a Facebook post on his personal page that received 282 Likes, 22 shares and almost 50 well-wishing comments.
And in some breaking news, online wagering site Xpressbet recently announced that all proceeds generated as a result of Xpressbet customers wagering on Assiniboia Downs on the Saturday, July 18, card, will be donated by the online betting company to the trust of Selman. Xpressbet is a proud partner and supporter of the Jockeys’ Guild and Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which currently provides financial assistance to 60 former jockeys who suffered catastrophic on-track injuries.
Selman says she is being treated very well by the nurses in the hospital, but admits she's thankful some of her favourite foods are brought in from outside sources. Fuzzy peaches and watermelons are among her specialities after a steady stream of visitors that have included family, horse owners Mike and Verla Olito and Lori Mann, and jockeys Paul Leacock, Jerry Pruitt and Chavion Chow.
Selman's physio tires her out quickly to the point where she unable to read for more than a few minutes right now, and while she prefers books like mythical historical fantasy like Lord of the Rings, TV shows like Seinfeld are just easier right now. She now has the first five seasons of SeinfeldTV and has Jerry Seinfeld to boost her spirits when she needs to.
Once again, Selman's spirit's brightened when talking about horses, including her favourite Lord Jasmond, whom she was aboard for the spill on in the sixth race on Saturday, June 27 at Assiniboia Downs. "He's my buddy," she said. "I galloped him every day. He's a classy little horse, but he's a little nervous. You just felt he would take care of you. But accidents happen."
Selman was still unable to feel anything from the chest down on Thursday. "Like these," she sighed as she gently slapped her thigh. "It feels like I'm hitting a mannequin or something."
But she said it with just a hint of a smile.