HorseMania helps highlight needs of abused, neglected children

The public art project will help raise money for Blue Ridge CASA for Children

By Brittny McGraw - Anchor

LEXINGTON, Va. - People in Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County may do a double-take later this year, when they see more than a dozen horses in buildings and on streets throughout town.

The catch: The horses aren't real. They're colorful, life-sized, fiberglass horses that local artists are painting in support of Blue Ridge CASA for Children.

"The more that we talk about Blue Ridge CASA, the more people are getting an understanding of how important this organization is for the area," said Rosanne Facciolo Mackey, chairperson of HorseMania. 

Local artists are painting 13 horses, and each artist has a different theme. One horse is a blue-winged warrior princess. Another has a Dia de los Muertos theme. One artist painted different animals found in Rockbridge County and around the world on her horse. Another horse has a mosaic theme. A horse named "Justin" painted one of the horses. Mark Cline fabricated the horses.

“Oh, I think when people see them they’ll just be blown away," Mackey said. "At this point, anyone who sees one of the horses gets really excited.”

The completed horses will be presented in a horse parade in Lexington and Buena Vista in May. They'll then be placed in different locations across the county before they're auctioned off during a live and online auction in November.

Money raised from the auction will benefit Blue Ridge CASA for Children, an organization that trains volunteers to advocate for children in our area who have been severely abused and neglected.

“It’s incredibly significant," said Juan Pablo Molina, executive director of Blue Ridge CASA. "Our volunteers, without a doubt, change the life of a child with what they do.”

CASA stands for "Court Appointed Special Advocates," and each CASA volunteer serves as a voice for abused and neglected children in court.

Molina said the organization currently serves about 100 children in the area, but the need is three times greater than that. 

"The biggest impact is that a child with a CASA volunteer on their case is 50 percent less likely of being re-abused," Molina said.

Blue Ridge CASA is currently looking for volunteers and has a training session coming up in February.

You can find more information about Blue Ridge CASA and HorseMania here: http://casa4children.org/

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