SHAKOPEE, MN – Jockey Paul Nolan is a member of the Leg Up Fund committee and has worked tirelessly to make sure that the needs of his fellow jocks are taken care of should an accident befall them on the racetrack. On April 18, it was Nolan that went down at Will Rogers Downs, turning his life upside down. Nolan is currently rehabbing at Craig Center in Englewood, CO, a world renowned center for spinal cord injuries. Nolan did not sever his spinal cord but severe bruising has left him with unable to move his arms or stand or walk on his own, though he does have feeling.
On Sunday, his fellow jockeys came out en masse to support Nolan in a bouncy ball race that featured 13 of the track’s colony with each being sponsored by an owner at the track. Separate from the Leg Up Fund, this show of camaraderie and support was strictly for Nolan and his family.
“Paul had posted some bouncy ball race from another track,” said his wife, Sherry. “Kay King [Minnesota Thoroughbred Association Executive Director] remembered it and thought that they should do something like this too. She called me just Friday and said that ‘we’re doing this for Paul and you have to be here’. After all everyone has already done. It’s incredible.”
Jarreth Loveberry was first across the wire – legally. Denny Velazquez was technically first across the finish line, but apparently picking up your bouncy ball and running with it merited disqualification.
“Paul is a character,” smiled fellow Committee member, jockey Dean Butler. “We really miss him a lot here. We’re all family and are praying for him.”
“There are not words to express how grateful Paul and I are,” said Sherry. “The support we have had has been overwhelming – spiritually, financially, good wishes, people always being in touch. It’s so magnificent. I’m out of words to say ‘thank you.'”
“I wish I had more that we could share with people. We put the information up when we have it but right now it’s just working hard,” she continued. “His spirits are good most of the time. They’ve upped his physical therapy and he got to take the cervical collar off. They working to strengthen his legs.”
When asked how she was holding up, Sherry hesitated, gathered herself, and went on, “I’m doing the best that I can. Not as good as I would like, but hey, I’m hanging in there, you know? The emotional support, that’s huge. To know that there is core support there is just indescribable.”