Imagine a coach, friend, parent-figure, and partner-in-crime all rolled into one. Mimi Combs is all of those, only better. Mimi, my equestrian trainer, first taught me when I was merely eleven years old. Since then, we have bonded through our common love of the sport of eventing, our eerily similar personalities and views on life, and our long hours spent working at the barn to continue chasing our dreams. She wants to not only be a top trainer, but also a known international competitor. As the team alternate for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Mimi got a taste of what it’s like to be one of the top riders in the world. Now, she operates a training business along with her husband Mark while they look for her next superstar horse. My dream is a little different; I’m aiming for the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships in 2008, having already competed in 2007’s NAYRC. The year I was born, Mimi won the NAYRC, and she continually tells me that if I win next year, it will be like passing a torch.
Mimi has had her share of hard times. She was in a car accident in 2000, and now has metal pins in her foot for support and can never run again. However, she is still able to ride and train as well as always, and her determination to succeed has only increased as a result of her setback. The toughest roadblock for all of us came in 2004, when Mark was diagnosed as having a brain tumor. They went through all of the necessary medical procedures, having the surgery performed to remove over 80 percent of the tumor. Mark recovered well, but for a long time, was not quite the same man; before, he would act like a fun-loving older brother towards me, joking around and asking ridiculous questions such as “Where do guinea pigs come from?” or how many volts are in a lightening bolt. After the surgery and recovery, however, Mark was much quieter, preferring to do his work around the landscape of the farm without the same level of cheeriness. In 2005, one of the worst possible things happened to a wonderful person. He left Mimi to go to Indiana for an unspecified period of time. Days, weeks, and then months went by. Instead of running after him, or hiding from everyone else, Mimi held her head high and continued the business that she and Mark had started from scratch. A few months later, Mark came back to the farm, and we all accepted him back with guarded happiness. Tensions around the barn have been greatly reduced, and Mark is back to his old self, but I will never forget the sacrifices Mimi was willing to make and the emotional strength she possessed in order to keep chasing her dream. I truly believe that finding the strength to wholeheartedly chase a dream comes as a result of not being stopped by any impediment.
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