Accident injures two in Camp Courage Wagon Train

It was supposed to be a day of celebration for the participants of the 25th Courage Center Wagon Train.  But the June 20 conclusion of the Wagon Train was marred when a teenage participant and a Camp Courage staffer were injured as a frightened horse bolted through the crowd.  Chelsea Burton, age 14 of Hudson, Wis., was treated and released from the Buffalo Hospital. Seasonal Camp Courage staffer Cheryl Stephens, age 53 of New Richmond, Wis., was transported by helicopter to North Memorial Medical Center.  The Wagon Train had just completed its Thursday morning journey from Maple Lake to Camp Courage and the participants were circling the field at about 11:30 a.m. Wagon Train participants said a horse stepped on his lead rope, causing the frightened horse to bolt from his handler and through the field of participants and spectators. “Somebody hollered ‘Horse’ and that horse came flying as fast as he could run,” one witness said. “The lady was standing there trying to get out of the way and it hit her full bore.”  According to the Wright County Sheriff’s Department, the horse, owned by Tashina Jo Oachs of Kasota, hit Stephens first, then ran into Burton and dragged her about 50 yards, causing minor injuries. Stephens was initially listed in serious condition at North Memorial with multiple fractures, but as of Monday her condition had been upgraded to ‘fair.’  Camp Courage spokesperson Deb Olson said Stephens was a coordinator for the Wagon Train. “Cheryl and her family have given a great amount of time, effort and love to this project for a number of years,” she said. “Even after the incident, Cheri wanted the Wagon Train events to continue.”   At Stephen’s request, an awards program was held later that day for Wagon Train participants, with Stephen’s husband, Tom, coming out to speak to the group.  Olson said no decision has been made at this point on the future of the Wagon Train. “But one important thing to note is that this is the first incident of its kind in the 25 year history of Wagon Train,” Olson said. “And despite the accident, I think Cheri and her family have a lot of love for the close-knit group that makes up Wagon Train.”  On Friday morning, Wagon Train participants shared breakfast at Camp Courage and then headed for home. And Olson had words of praise for the people that give so much of their time and effort in support of Camp Courage and the children it serves. “This 25th anniversary shows the commitment of the people that go on Wagon Train every year and from Tom Thumb, which has sponsored this event for the past 16 years.   “The reason they continue is because they feel Camp Courage is very important to kids with disabilities.”