Coa walks to join friends at benefit


Jockey Eibar Coa proved miracles can happen when he arrived at the Woodmont Country Club in Tamarac, Fla., late Tuesday afternoon to attend a benefit golf tournament held in his honor.

Coa, who was left nearly paralyzed throughout his body after sustaining a fracture of the C4 vertebra in his neck in a spill that took place pulling up after the finish of the sixth race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 18, brought many of those in attendance at the golf tournament to tears when he got out of his wheelchair and walked to join his many friends and colleagues from the jocks' room for a group picture.

"I don't know whether to laugh or cry, seeing all my friends," said Coa. "I'm thrilled. No words can describe this."

Coa, who is undergoing three hours of therapy a day, said his goal was not only to walk again, but to one day be able to return to the racetrack and ride again.

Coa asked his colleague John Velazquez to tell the crowd how much he appreciated "all their support and all their prayers" and that he knows that they have helped him.

Velazquez said, "It's amazing to see the progress Eibar has made from when I saw him last week to today."

Approximately 130 golfers participated in the tournament, according to Gulfstream's vice president of racing, Tim Ritvo, with an additional 50 or more people showing up to participate afterwards in a silent auction.