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April 10, 2006 | Read comments | Post a comment

The Dan Hendricks stories

The Kentucky Derby's only a month away. Here in Louisville, where I blog from, the Derby's a big, big deal. And the news is full of everything and anything racehorsey.

I'm not one to read the sports section usually. But Friday morning my eye fell on the headline Call 'em training wheels in the Courier-Journal lying there on the breakfast table.

There was a photo of a man looking over a horse -- a man in a motorized chair. Looked like he knew what he was doing with that horse, too. Looked like a trainer.

So I read on, and thus made the acquaintance of Dan Hendricks, trainer of Derby hopeful Brother Derek.

"Well, this should be interesting," I thought. "A whole month for reporters to offer up versions of the horse- trainer-paralyzed-in-accident-makes-comeback feature story."

There's for sure a slew of stories out there already -- a quick Google News search gave me over a hundred -- many of them variations on the "Wheelchair-bound Hendricks oversees Kentucky Derby favorite" story by AP Sports Writer Beth Harris ( here it is in the San Jose Mercury News and again from ABC). Note the use of "wheelchair-bound." Nobody in the media seems to know there's anything wrong with the term.

The stories abound in cliches -- so many I'm not even going to bother listing them here. You know the ones, right? "Despite his..." "Overcomes his..." "Doesn't let handicap stop..." ? And so on?

Here's a project for you: I'd like to suggest that readers make their own Google alert using the keywords "Dan Hendricks" and "wheelchair" -- and watch the emails pour into your inbox. If you find any particularly awful -- or good -- stories, post a comment below, will ya?

I leave you with some quotes CJ sports writer Jennie Rees worked into Friday's story:

I don't think Dan wants anybody to feel sorry for him. Everybody has their own wheelchair in life; some people's you can see, some you can't. With Dan's, you can see his.

"Everybody terms a situation as being handicapped. Dan isn't handicapped. Dan is completely capable. He's just got to do things differently."

Oh -- and I didn't see any sports reporter writing anything about the inaccessibility of anything. Let me know if you find any who do.

Posted by mjohnson on April 10, 2006 02:05 AM



Obstacles won't stop trainer Hendricks, Brother Derek.

And here I am trying to figure out ways to get the obstacles out of my way, how silly of me.

It is written of his friends that:

"They would have left if he hadn't shown the amount of engagement that he had and the commitment," he said. "Once he showed the commitment, the owners were comfortable sticking with him."

So, if he would have been really depressed, they would have left him? You know...cause that'd make 'em 'uncomfortable'?

"He's as good a trainer as you'll find out there."

Said Mandella: "He was a good trainer before. He might be great now."

Wow, instead of 'good'--he'll be 'great,' er at least he now has a better potential being disabled and all.

"And if Brother Derek wins the Kentucky Derby, there might not be a dry eye on the backstretches of the Southland race tracks."

"Anybody that knows the story anywhere will be rooting for him," Mandella said.

Well I guess so! He went from 'normal' status to 'disabled' role model!

Added Solis: "It would mean a lot to all of us, the guys in his barn, the exercise rider ... for being associated with such a great leader."

So THAT'S the ticket to getting people to call me a 'great leader' and finally want to be associated with me. If only I had known! As it stands, nobody calls me a great leader nor do many want to associate with me. Sheesh! When oh when will I learn!!

Posted by: aslowlearner on April 12, 2006 03:15 AM

Thank you for this article! I use a walker, and own a well bred broodmare that never raced and now have a half brother to Brother Derek. My family thinks I should get rid of my horses, because I'm not as mobile as they think I should be to own horses. They don't think I can manage a small horse farm. But I could! Because I will just do things differently! Yours, Ms. G. Jay Regier
P.S. My colt looks a lot like his half brother.

Posted by: Ms. G. Jay Regier on June 13, 2006 10:55 PM

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