Katie Estrella was eleven years old when her parents bought her a horse. Her vision was to become more competitive in Gymkhana (speed events), and to eventually become a professional barrel racer. Her dreams quickly came to a halt on Saturday, May 13th 2006. Katie was attending a local horse show in Jurupa, California. When she entered the arena, everything was fine, until she took a turn around the first pole. After the turn, Ryan, her horse took off in a running buck and she fell off, landing right on her shoulder blades. Paralysis was immediate.
Transitioning to her life with a spinal cord injury wasn’t hard for Katie. In fact, struggling is not in Katie’s vocabulary. When asked about her day to day struggles, Katie stated “I don’t really have struggles. I am very capable and I can do everything but in a different way. And now with the hand controls I can drive, and I am even more independent.”
Katie enjoys school and being in classes with her friends. She looks forward to the weekends when she is able to relax and go mall-shopping with her girlfriends. She is excited about her future and has her heart set on attending college. Whether hanging out with her girlfriends or searching for the right outfit she is spreading confidence to others due to her poise with her disability. When Katie was questioned about what she was most proud of in her life she commented, “I am more confident in who I am now, than I was before my injury.”
Katie’s adaptive driving equipment, which was funded by the Travis Roy Foundation, has enabled Katie to live a more active lifestyle. She revels in the freedom of taking a drive whenever she wants. The easily manipulated hand controls have afforded Katie another task she can do independently. More importantly being able to drive has removed another barrier, and will help enable her to live a more productive life.
When asked how Katie and her family heard about the TRF, Katie proudly remarked “My mom searched the internet for funding resources for people with spinal cord injuries and she came upon the Travis Roy Foundation website. It was such a blessing!”