Published by American Horse Publications
September 16th, 2022
Photo: Andrew Ryback Photography
Manager and owner of Silver Oak Jumper Tournament, JeffreyPapows, PhD has always supported charities such as Danny and Ron’s Rescue, Omega Horse Rescue and most recently The Kevin Babington Foundation and Canines Support Team.
Kevin Babington Foundation was originally created by Missy Clark, John Brennan, Marty Huggins, and some notable powerhouses in the sport who formed the foundation shortly after Kevin’s tragic fall three years ago at the Hampton Classic.
Eighteen months ago, Jeff Papows, PhD was asked to take over the reins, although it’s worth noting every member of the original board remains at Jeff’s disposal without exception. To this day they are very involved.
Jeff Papows is an A/O Jumper rider who first sat on a horse in a serious sense about 23 years ago while in his 40s.
Jeff founded and owned the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament – like the KBF it’s a registered 501c3 which in concert with our founding presenting sponsor, The Davis McCullough Foundation is supporting the sport of Show Jumping and animal rescue both K9 and Equine.
In September at Traverse City, Michigan, the GGT-Footing Welcome class in addition to several CSI3* events capped by the CSI3* $137,600 Agero Grand Prix, the annual Kevin Babington Classic was supported by young riders as well as Olympians and peers of Kevin such as Shane Sweetman, a fellow Irishman.
Jeff Papows has been CEO of several North America’s largest technology companies such as Lotus and Cognos both of which after public offerings were sold to IBM.
So, as a computer scientist and geek of sorts, his skill sets lead him to manage the Kevin Babington Foundation with great fervor.
Jeff met Kevin years back at HITS in New York where unrelated circumstance had us cross paths and we became fast friends. While the Kevin Babington Foundation is in Kevin’s name it’s vital to understand it’s for “show jumping athletes living their worst nightmares with spinal cord injuries” not simply for Kevin. We have supported several such afflicted colleagues such as Alexis Johnson, David Bisel, Kim Prince and of course Kevin. It’s more than a financial engine but a center for study and publication of otherwise available papers and breakthroughs likely not seen by many of us before having a reason for an acute interest. We are also there to promote safety in the sport, hence the focus on the wearing of Air Vests.
Kevin’s journey has been particularly intense, starting with a respirator, and all manner of life support. Kevin’s Olympic spirit, tenacity and determination has allowed him to endure grueling stem cell interventions, hyperbaric chambers to strengthen his breathing and voice and travel to many leading institutes where he has given himself to all therapies that might improve his mobility. He has come a long way with control of his chair and right hand, movement of late in his toes and just recently sensation, short for pain, in his back. It’s always sensation before function. The sensations can be PG13 events which mere mortals would shutter at. Kevin being Kevin he never complains, his focus is always on others.
Recently, when Kim Prince was injured and the Foundation ensured she would receive the best possible therapy at the Shepard’s institute in Atlanta, Georgia, Kevin was on the phone with me in a flash. Kim and Kevin have talked and I’m sure he has been an inspiration to her. Kim in fact has taken her first few steps with some aid and is making considerable progress though like Kevin she has a long hard road ahead of her. The outpouring of support for Kevin from the Show Jumping community makes Jeff proud to play a small role in our sport. Kevin is loved, and from fellow Olympians to children the volume of interest in his recovery can be staggering. Jeff’s assistant of some thirty plus years, Sharon Ricci organizes a great deal of this, and I talk to as many as long hours allow. It’s a reflection of the love affair Kevin has catalyzed with so many in the sport by numerous selfless gestures of kindness. Kevin was of course a chapter of significance in the book Unbridled Passion authored by Jeff and when that 2nd printing took off and gained some visibility Kevin was called on more than a few times to speak to children, some from the Children’s Wish Foundation and irrespective of his schedule he always, always responded in the affirmative. That’s Kevin!
His fall changed none of it in fact given he now reluctantly realizes he has become an icon and source of inspiration for many, he is always asking what he can do and who does he need to speak with. Jeff is also on the board of an incredible organization, “Canine Support Teams” who raises and trains service dogs for those with handicaps in many instances veterans, (Jeff is USMC officer retired). On July 5th of this year Canine Support Teams delivered to Kevin – Samantha his Australian Shepard soul mate and constant chair side companion.
The cost of care and support of these athletes to include Kevin is monumental. Consequently, the KBF foundation is in one way or another by necessity always fund raising. The nightmare – the thing that keeps Jeff awake at night is the scenario where a new scientific breakthrough becomes available, and he does not have the solvency to fund whatever is needed in private travel, medical intervention or any kind of support.
The Foundation is totally staffed by volunteers my assistant and CFO are examples, nobody draws a salary. The mean average for direct application of funds in the United States for registered charities is around 39 percent, the KBF contributes nearly every dollar of every penny raised to the care of the athletes in our charge. Overhead at the KBF in 2022 will be about 6 percent.
Please help in any way you can. (www.KevinBabingtonFoundation.org). If you ride horses, you know the inherent dangers! This could happen to any one of us. Start by buying that air vest – there are several highly successful variants available. Donate whatever you can no contribution is too small.
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