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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Horses are cool.

WCBS-TV: Man Nails Eye-fecta After 'Monticello Miracle'

Monticello, N.Y. - Don Karkos brushed his fingertips across his friend's nose and laughed.

"Oh, he likes to be rubbed on the nose," Don said with a smile.

His friend, a Standardbred horse at Monticello Raceway, pawed the ground in appreciation.

Wait a minute...Was that "eye-fecta"?

Don loves horses, and is particularly fond of My Buddy Chimo, the 4-year-old trotter who has literally helped improve Don's outlook on life.

"This horse has a special place in my heart," said Don, who has a new appreciation for the line from the old hymn; "was blind, but now I see."

Amazing grace, indeed.

Don turned 82 this week, but he almost didn't make it to 18.

In 1942, the then-17-year-old was in the Navy, serving on an oiler in the North Atlantic, the USS Rapidan.

An explosion on-board sent a piece of metal hurtling into Don's head, knocking him out cold. When he woke up, he was in a hospital in Iceland, where doctors told him to be thankful he was alive, and oh, by the way, he'd never see out of his right eye again.

"They said nothing could be done, absolutely nothing, because the back of the eye was so distorted," Karkos said.

For 64 years, Don just dealt with it. The lack of peripheral vision meant he often bumped into walls, and people.

"It was embarrassing at times, boy, I'll tell you," said Karkos.

But life went one, and this member of the Greatest Generation made the most of it. Marriage, children, big success in the roofing business. Not bad for a guy who had lost 98-percent of the vision in his right eye.

Sixteen years ago, Don took a retirement job at the track, providing security and helping out in the racing paddock. A few months ago, he was tightening a harness strap on his horse friend, Chimo."

I reached underneath, and when I did, my head was right next to his," Don recalled. "All of a sudden, he turned and he whacked me one on the head, and that was it."

Don was left a bit woozy, and feeling out of sorts. When he got home, he realized with a shock why things seemed a little weird.

The vision had returned to his right eye.

"I was very, very happy, I was tickled right pink," Don said. "It was like all of a sudden my vision came like a wide-screen TV."

The whack to his head from Chimo had somehow restored significant vision to Don's right eye.

"I can't explain it," said Don, who estimates vision in right eye has improved from 2 percent to about 25 percent. Anyone with vision problems will tell you that is a dramatic difference.

"I'm not bumping into things now, I can see them coming from the right side," Don explained.

No, he hasn't gone to a doctor yet, but he plans to have his eye examined after the holidays.

Naturally, the episode has been dubbed the "Monticello Miracle." It's the talk of the track, and the horse, of course, has become a star.

"People want to touch Chimo now," said John Manzi, longtime PR director at Monticello Raceway. "Maybe he's got that certain something, I don't know."

Wednesday, Chimo took to the track with owner John Gilmour in the sulky. The horse went off at 22-1, and guess what?

Well, never mind. One miracle is enough for any horse.

Heehee.

No matter how Chimo races, the trotter is always tops with Don Karkos.

"I'm getting him a big bag of carrots for Christmas," Don said. "Do you know what a doctor would have charged for this result?"

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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.

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