One of the most difficult things in life is to find just the right thing to do or say when tragedy strikes. To be able to understand the moment, to be close enough to it to feel its impact, its consequences, its dilemmas, on the one hand, but to keep one’s perspective all the same so as to be able to be of genuine comfort and assistance, on the other. It is not an easy balance to strike, to be sure. When something happens to radically alter the world as we or a friend or loved one knows it, how to proceed, what to say, in the minutes and hours that follow in its wake are among the hardest things to choose.
Random acts of kindness have their own way of coming home full circle.
Last week a terrible accident befell Kevin Babington, who not only is a great equestrian, but who, by all accounts, is also a humble and kind man. He is the type of man one would truly value as a friend, one who would be there by your side in happy times and sad times, when things are going your way, and most particularly when they are not. It now seems to be his turn to be on the receiving side of such kindness.
Random acts of kindness have their own way of coming home full circle. The same day as the accident, for but one example of his kindness, saw Kevin and his wife Dianna (Flaherty) Babington open their barn to take in horses that might need shelter in the event that the wrath of Hurricane Dorian would involve southern Florida.
Perhaps it is their purity that brings them round. When the motive is pure, it often seems as though a way opens for the original act of kindness to be reflected back to the originator. Perhaps in these difficult days after the horrific equestrian accident that befell Mr. Babington late last week, a severe spinal injury following his fall from his horse at the Hampton Classic, we are seeing some of his acts of kindness find their way home just when they are needed the most.
This story of Kevin Babington ... is also in significant part about the way that the equestrian community has rallied around him and his entire family...
When the world that seemed full of possibilities closes in on you, when plans and goals are replaced by uncertainties and losses, even just pain can make the world seem significantly smaller.
This story of Kevin Babington, horseman, family-oriented husband and father, however, is also in significant part about the way that the equestrian community has rallied around him and his entire family of wife, Dianna, and their two teenage daughters, Gwyneth and Marielle, in this moment of loss and difficulty. Last Saturday, the day after the accident, family friend Ms. Sissy Wickes wondered what she might do to help the family. Her first thought was to bring them some peace and comfort by means of raising some money to help the family with the medical bills and other expenses arising from the accident. Ms. Wickes set out initially to raise $25,000.00, using a Facebook page dedicated to the endeavour. She achieved that goal in one single hour. She went on to raise approximately $370,000.00 USD in five days and the fund now sits at approximately $428,000.00 USD raised in 6 days by just over 3,900 individuals.
The equestrian community is bound together in significant part by, in the words of Ms. Wickes, “the love of the horse.” It is also bound together by similar values that arise out of that love, values such as that of compassion and a desire to help in a time of need, a coming together to address a particular need. On the response by the equestrian community, Ms. Wickes commented:
“Kevin is such a popular person, generous and kind man, and a great horseman, and the community just responded and continues to respond. Everybody wants to help in any way they can not only him but his wife and two teenage daughters. So, it’s really... in the face of such a tragedy and such a dark time ... been a beacon of light to have this community step up in the way that it has.”
The consequences of an accident such as this are grave and, indeed, reach far beyond the Babington household itself. The entire equestrian community is confronted with the reality that at the end of the day there are some risks that simply cannot be mitigated. Asked what Mr. Babington would say regarding the fears the accident engenders in less experienced riders, Ms. Wickes responded:
“Mr. Babington would say that every time you get on a horse you face the possibility of coming off the horse. It is a risk that we all take... it is a risk that he has taken his entire life for something that he loves the most in the world. And in his situation... the worse happened... and for those of us that ride every day we understand the risk, we face it. Falling is a possibility, even a probability in some cases. But I don’t think he would trade his life, his profession, for any other.”
Asked, too, what he would want people to be thinking about right now, Ms. Wickes replied:
“He would want people to be thinking about his family. He is very much a family-oriented man. I also think he would want to thank them for their support, their prayers and good wishes. He is such a humble guy and I think he would just be floored by the response that he has received.”
We rarely know how to respond to such an event. We do not wish to err on either side of optimism. To be overly optimistic seems to too easily dismiss the pain and the reality at hand. To be pessimistic is ridiculous. It is, in large part, a matter of having confidence in the person who has suffered the fall and believe in them and their ability to fight back and rise to the occasion. It would seem that this is rather easily accomplished in the case of Kevin Babington. It is also a matter of our having faith in ourselves to remain a steadfast friend or supporter. That we can maintain a steady hand, ourselves, in the face of adversity, and not cry too little or too much. There is a need to remain determined to face the situation on behalf of our friend, squarely and honestly, and to remind ourselves that each small wish, prayer or material help builds a wall of comfort around our friend and his family, and a base from which they can move forward.
Everyone at RSE sends their support and prayers to Kevin Babington.
Presently a Special Needs Trust is being established as a means to aid Kevin and Dianna Babington and their family. RSE invites you to support this fine equestrian in an hour of need.