Coa Takes Giant Step

Coa Takes Giant Step

03/29/2011

Jockey Eibar Coa took a giant step Tuesday afternoon on his road to recovery when he made his first public appearance since breaking his C4 vertebrae Feb. 18 in a spill at Gulfstream Park.

Coa not only made an unannounced appearance at the inaugural Florida Derby Golf Tournament – where proceeds will go to aid his recovery – but he stood up from his wheelchair and took several small steps before a crowd of friends, family and colleagues.

When Coa took those steps, the crowd of approximately 200 people stood and cheered.

“This is a very good experience,” said Coa, who spent several days after the spill at Memorial Regional Hospital unable to move his extremities. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, seeing all my friends. I am working hard and my main goal is to come back. These are the people I like to see every day.”

Cheered by friends on each side as he was wheeled by wife Rebecca through the lobby of Woodmont Country Club, Coa, his voice still hoarse, told fellow jockey John Velazquez to express his feelings.

“Eibar said he wants to thank of all you for your prayers,” Velazquez said. “He said no words can describe this feeling.”

Velazquez said Coa, who could be released from a rehabilitation facility within two weeks, has made incredible progress.

“From where he was two weeks ago when we saw him to now, to him taking these steps, is amazing,” Velazquez said. “It’s a gift from God.”

Tim Ritvo, Vice President of Racing at Gulfstream, said; “Seeing Eibar today is a thrill for all of us. He’s an inspiration.”