Holidays or any kinds of special occasions throughout the year can be tough on the best of us, especially those who have experienced loss. Here at the JDF we understand that and wanted to share some personal messages from the team, as well as giving you an insight on who we are and our own grieving processes over the last year and a half.
Who are the people behind the Jack Dodd Foundation?
TD & DD: We're David and Trish Dodd, Jack's parents. We operate a small yard in the west of Ireland where we breed and produce young stock. We operate as Jack Dodd Stables and have always loved working with horses and will continue to do so in his name.
AD: I'm Andrea Drakulic, Jack and I met at the beginning of 2013 when I was based in Ireland riding. I'm currently living in The Hague finishing a degree in Security Studies (Counter Terrorism & Conflict Management) and in 99% of my free time I'm responsible for the day to day running of the Jack Dodd Foundation.
DW: I’m Denise Wilson, I met Jack in 2016 after I moved over to Europe. He was the kind of person that immediately made you feel welcome. We became fast friends and in 2017 started our own businesses up beside each other. In two short years, Jack had and continues to make an indescribable impact on my career, my life and my family.
MA: My name is Mariel Aguirre. I’m Swiss/Mexican and I’ve been living in Belgium for the last 5 years pursuing my show jumping career
On what the foundation means to us and our hopes for it's future...
DD: For me the Foundation is a continuation of Jack's legacy as he was always at the end of the phone for his friends and family. It means the world to me that his friends thought so much of him that they developed the idea of the Foundation around the time we spent in the hospital.
MA: The foundation is a way to continue Jack’s legacy. He was a bright light in the riding community and we miss him very much. Jack like the rest of us, moved to Belgium to pursue this crazy career. I hope it’ll achieve its purpose of helping riders and giving them the necessary resources for success. The foundation is made with love and positivity, and that is how Jack was, so I hope that energy can spread and touch everyone.
DW: The foundation is not only important to me because we support the charities close to us and offer advice and help to other families going through tough situations as we did last year. It is personally most important that we continue to work on expanding a directory for anyone looking to make the move and start their own business in the industry. The goal is to provide a reference database for anyone that wants to start their own business as Jack and I did. To offer the names and numbers of other trusted professionals in their respected fields of all aspects of what it takes to be an equestrian athlete and professional.
AD: To me, the Foundation is... everything. It's one way of keeping Jack's legacy alive and also our way of thanking everyone who supported us through Jack's ordeal. I think it started off as a coping mechanism (this is true for me, at least) as we needed some good to come from the tragedy we experienced. I truly believe, however, that it will grow into something larger than us all and I hope we can continue to help anyone who contacts us and promote healthy practices within the sport.
Talk us through your own grief process, what has the last year and a half been like for you?
MA: Life isn’t always rainbows and roses. Life can be hard and it’s ok to have good days and bad days. It’s important to surround yourself with a good support system and turn to them in times of need. Grief is never judged, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. It is important to forgive yourself in hard times and treat yourself when you’re doing well. One day at a time!
DW: The first months after the accident I threw myself into riding and work, head in the sand, with no other focus. As the time is passing I am learning to balance life a bit more, but still work every day on continuing to build on the dreams that Jack (and myself) had when we first started up together. Throughout this I have learned to channel my grief as motivation. To use it as a reminder to be grateful that everyday we get to wake up and do something we love, and to be thankful that we can surround ourselves with a support system of friends that have become family.
TD: I think I spent a year just trying to keep my mind busy, I was so afraid of having time to think. It’s so easy to go to a very dark place but not so easy to come back from there. I am broken and like all broken objects, functioning takes more effort and makes everything more difficult to accomplish. Some mornings it is an achievement to get out of bed, or driving can be a reminder that listening to music is a pleasure I seem to have lost. It is my new normal and I know I have to give myself time to get used to being like this. But I knew Jack so well, I know what he would say. Firstly of course, he would want us all to miss him but he would never give up and I hear him telling me to “Man up, you can do it. You can do anything “ Thats what keeps me going.
AD: I think my process was twofold. First I needed, and still need to, make sure everyone around me was okay and had an outlet to talk if they needed to (to an annoying extent, I'll be the first to admit). Secondly, I needed to keep my brain busy, I don't remember how many people I emailed about the concept of the Foundation and chased about with my laptop to get them to read drafts of our initial plans. I remember this time last year thinking to myself "you're okay, you're coping" which I now realise was absolutely ludicrous as I was in no shape or form coping with anything. I try to take each day as it comes and keep my brain as busy as I possibly can.
Any final messages to followers of the Foundation?
AD: Our phones are on loud pretty much 24/7 and I can't tell you how many times a day I check my e-mails. We're here for you, use us if you need to, even if its just to talk things through.
MA: Always ask for help when you need it and realize that there is a community of people ready to give you love if you need it.
We want to wish you all a wonderful holiday period and a very Merry Christmas. Thank you for your support over the past year, we can't wait to share some new developments with you all in 2020.