MAPLE CITY — Abby Gross knew from the moment she first saw Tiger Lily in an Illinois stable that the 11-year-old hunting and jumping mare was the horse she had long dreamed of having.
“I liked how she moved and looked,” the Leland seventh-grader said. “ I could tell by the look in her eyes that she was kind hearted.”
Abby’s dream came to life on Valentine’s Day, thanks to Make-A-Wish Foundation, horse-loving friends at Cold Spring Farm near Maple City and an anonymous donor who realized how much Abby thrived around the horses and offered to pick up boarding costs.
Abby, 13, was 10 when she was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer called anaplastic astrocytoma after suffering a seizure. Since then, she’s undergone surgeries, a year of intensive chemotherapy and now is treated with oral chemotherapy.
A fund-raiser that includes an afternoon of horsemanship demonstrations and instructions by area trainers and a silent auction will be held at the farm next weekend on Sunday, April 28. All proceeds will go the family to help pay medical bills.
"People have been amazing,” said Emily Brinkman, her riding instructor and owner of Blue Oxer Equestrian Services at Cold Spring Farm. She began giving Abby lessons after her diagnosis and first surgery when she was 10.
Brinkman also saw that Lily was a good fit for Abby.
“Lily was trained well and she has a good temperament,” Brinkman said. “She’s a sweet mare, a great teacher and has shown at that intermediate level that Abby will show at. We were looking for a horse that would be good for Abby and take care of her on her sick days.”
Abby is the daughter Jeanie and Chris Gross and the sister of identical twin sisters Carly and Savannah, both Leland seniors this year.