Horse Mania horse ‘Amazing April’ honors Lexington woman who battled breast cancer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Later this year, 72 brightly colored horses will hit the streets for the return of Horse Mania in Lexington and other parts of the state.
It first started in 2000, and at that time 79 creatively designed horses hit the streets. In 2010, for the World Equestrian Games more were brought to life and now artists will do it again in 2022.
This year, one horse will stand out not for its design, but rather for the story it tells about a Lexington woman who bravely fought breast cancer, but never let it dull her spirit or just how amazing she was.
On a chilly Kentucky morning, a prized horse needs moving on a central Kentucky farm. People stand back just to get a glimpse, and others make sure to get a photo.
But this horse isn’t what you might think. It’s not headed for pasture, but rather the studio.
Amazing April is the horse’s name, but her story doesn’t begin here, rather with that of a woman who touched many lives.
“She was the strongest, coolest woman I have ever met,” said Di Boyer.
Boyer isn’t shy about the love she has for her best friend April Nease, who she met in 2010 as a co-worker.
“This girl with the wild hair and the wild spirit and the joy, we just connected and so over the last 12 years it was truly one of those magical friendships,” said Boyer.
Boyer considered April like a sister. So, when her friend described some discomfort in her chest, Boyer urged her to get a mammogram. She remembers April balking at the idea.
“‘I am too young for a mammogram. I am only 38, I am too young, I just had a physical. I am fine,’ she said. Well I didn’t let it go,” said Boyer.
That urging led to the discovery of stage four Metastatic Breast Cancer. Boyer watched her vibrant and lively friend battle the disease for seven years with grace and dignity.
April became an avid supporter of other women in their journey, but sadly lost her own battle in November of 2021. Now her legacy of loving and inspiring others will live on in a very public way.
Boyer, who works for Lex Arts, knew how much April loved the Horse Mania horses, and an idea to give back and create Amazing April was born.
“This project really, truly is a labor of love, but it’s a labor of joy because it was endorsed by her,” said Boyer.
Enter another dear friend to April, Paula Kingsolver.
“I met April my freshman year of college. There was a small group of us well, we were all in the same sorority together. We were Kappa Deltas at Georgetown College. Even after we graduated, we continued to be very blessed with a strong friendship and I think that is pretty rare to have a 30-year friendship,” said Kingsolver.
It’s pretty evident the impact April had on her friends and family, so it wasn’t shocking that 125 donors stepped up to make Amazing April possible.
Those donations were a stunning realization of just how loved April was by those around her. Her longtime friend and elementary school art teacher Kingsolver was selected as the artist.
Amazing April is covered with 125 different jockey silks, representing each of the donors and what April meant to them.
Kingsolver invited those closest to April to join her in creating the horse, a bit of connection through art for all involved.
“I think just every time anybody sees it, they are just going to get a little peek into her heart and soul, which is incredibly emotional and incredibly healing at the same time,” said Kingsolver.
“This is the ultimate gift because this is going to inspire others,” said Boyer.
The finished product is beautiful, bold and meaningful, just like the life April Nease lived that made her amazing in the eyes of so many.
The Amazing April horse will be permanently placed at the CHI Saint Joseph East Cancer Treatment Center.
The horse will be a lasting gift from April’s family and friends to continue to inspire others in their cancer journey, so that they might fight as bravely as she did while getting treatment there.
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