Irish Olympic show jumper Kevin Babington shows improvement at rehabilitation facility

Irish show jumper Kevin Babington, who suffered a life-changing fall at the Hampton Classic in Bridgehampton, New York, August 30, was successfully transferred from New York University Langone Medical Center in Manhattan to the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation on September 24. “Today we reached a milestone,” said Kevin’s wife, Dianna Babington in a Facebook post. “He was extremely happy to get out of NYU Langone Health Care despite the excellent care. It was time to move on.” The move to the rehab facility is the first step in Kevin’s long road to recovery.

“What’s become clear to both of us is that this journey is going to be a long one,” said Dianna in Facebook post. “That’s torture for two impatient people but both of us have accepted it. Many people ask me about the big picture ... but the reality is that there are issues that must resolve before we can tackle the paralysis.”

Dianna explained that the swelling/spinal contusion and shock remain a time-based recovery with no guarantees, but noted that Kevin is optimistic. Since Kevin’s arrival at Kessler, the focus has been on working toward less machine support every day.

Kevin and his wife, Dianna

Kevin and his wife, Dianna

“[Kevin] passed the swallow test so he is eating again and drinking on his own, Kevin’s sister-in-law, Daun Imperatore explained. “Physical therapy is helping and his voice is stronger and he feels stronger. Mentally he remains positive and as kind as ever. We remain positive as well.”

Dianna’s most recent update on October 8 stated that Kevin had gone twelve hours straight off the ventilator. “That jump was from 4 hours off and then a break then another 4 hours off. That is a huge improvement and respiratory therapist said it’s shocking,” explained Dianna. “Pneumonia is pretty much resolved. I have to believe the positivity from so many friends and family are largely responsible for this progress. Thank you for all the kindness, visiting, social media support and messages.”

Daun noted that they are hoping Kevin will be totally off the ventilator by the time he has to leave rehab, and they believe he will be. “Rehab only lasts as long as the insurance does, which is approximately 8 weeks,” explained Daun. “The house will need renovations, and additional medical costs like a van, a 24-hour nurse and most additional therapies like stem cell treatment are not covered by insurance.”

Kevin’s grand prix mount Mark Q came to Kessler Institute to visit Kevin on September 29.

Kevin’s grand prix mount Mark Q came to Kessler Institute to visit Kevin on September 29.

How to Help

As of September 24 the original Facebook fundraiser was taken down, but had raised a total of $537,261—a testament to those who love and support Kevin and his family. However, the GoFund Me is still active which, as of October 11, has raised $122,361.

In addition, a family trust has been established and 100 percent of the donations will go to the Babingtons. Checks can made out to “The Babington Family Trust” and sent to P.O. Box 771; Gwynedd Valley, PA 19437.

The equestrian community has rallied around the Babingtons, showing support in a multitude of ways. There are many fundraising efforts including benefit shows, horse auctions, rider apparel, horse apparel and more. There are still other ways to give.

Here are more ways to help:

• A #RideforKevin fundraiser has been established for the five World Equestrian Center Fall Horse Shows (September 25–October 27).The popular 1.25 m Jumper class has become the $500 1.25 m Kevin Babington #RideforKevin class where all entry fees will be donated to the Babington family. Riders also have the option to donate their prize money from any class. All attendees can also contribute by purchasing a green ribbon to be worn on the lapel of their coat for $5. If you would like to become more involved in the WEC #RideforKevin fundraiser, please contact TJ Campbell at 937-382-0985 option 1.

• Every competitor at the Princeton Fall Equestrian Festival (September 19–October 13) will have the opportunity to donate a portion or all of their prize money to Kevin. Competitors just need to let the show secretary know what percentage of prize money they’d like to be donated. Each rider who participates will be given an Irish green arm sash to wear in the competition ring.

In addition, the Princeton Fall Equestrian Festival will hold a 1-meter jumper class—“Jump for Kevin”—on every Saturday during the four-week competition. The entry fee is a minimum $50, but you can donate more if you’d like. 100 percent of the entry fees will go to Kevin.

All weekend parking proceeds will also be donated. The Prince Fall Equestrian Festival is looking for volunteers to help collect parking fees from spectators and donations from exhibitors. If you can volunteer, please email princetonshowjumping@gmail.com.

• Duncraven Stables in Titusville, New Jersey is holding a horse show to benefit the Babington family on October 13. They will be holding a silent auction. If any vendors would like to donate any products or services that can be raffled or auctioned at the show please contact Julie Roslowski (jroslowski@hotmail.com) or Karen Raach (kjraach@gmail.com).

• Malvern Saddlery is offering a belt ($50) and baseball cap ($25) both with embroidered shamrocks for purchase, with all proceeds going to the Babingtons.

• Ruespari has released an equestrian belt with Kevin’s signature on it ($75 for adults and $60 for kids), with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Kevin and his family. 

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