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March 29, 2022
Authentic: Ellen Geddes
Life changed in an instant for Ellen Geddes shortly before her 23rd birthday. Born and raised in Aiken, Ellen grew up as an avid equestrian. She spent most of her time in the saddle and at 10 years old, she began competing first in eventing and later in dressage. But a car accident changed everything when it left her paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
While she was rehabbing at the Shepard Center in Atlanta, she was introduced to the world of fencing, specifically, the world of parafencing. No longer able to easily ride horses, she decided to try her hand at fencing. Ellen quickly discovered that not only did she love to fence, but she was a natural at it.
“I learned how to fence as I learned how to exist in a wheelchair, I started Parafencing the same year I acquired my injury,” said Ellen. “So, to me, they followed a similar track. I really appreciate sport, and the role sport has played in my entire life, to find something new to do and learn immediately after my injury was a great benefit to my overall well being and my mental health. It is always good to have something to focus on and to move forward with.”
Ellen competed in her first parafencing event in December 2012, just one year after seeing fencing for the first time, and by the following fall, she was competing in her first Wheelchair World Championships. From there, Ellen set her goals high as she looked towards one day competing in the Paralympics. She fell short of her dream in the 2016 Paralympics, but qualified for and competed in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
“The experience was really like no other, I don’t think I had fully realized I was at the Paralympics until the day of Opening Ceremonies,” Ellen said. “Coming out of the tunnel into the stadium with all of Team USA is an experience I will never forget. The first day of the competition, I had incredible nerves, but once the actual fencing started, I settled right down and was able to really appreciate the whole experience.”
Today, Ellen owns horse farms here in Aiken—Bridlewood Farm and Maplewood Farm—and runs a breeding program with her business partner. Equines have always been at the heart of Ellen’s life, and to be able to remain connected to Aiken’s horse world after her riding days were abruptly cut short is something that she’s grateful for every single day.
“I am grateful to all of the people who helped me keep my horses and stay in horses in the period of time directly after my spinal cord injury,” Ellen said. “I feel like in my business with Helen Hill at Bridlewood Equestrian now, that we are very established and I am constantly reminded of how fortunate I am to have had all of that help in the beginning.”