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Kentucky Derby Artwork

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Kentucky Derby Artwork

Lafayette, La- The Kentucky Derby is in just a few days, but so is the permanently disabled jockeys fundraiser. For one local, horseback riding has been a part of his family for generations. One painter is getting the chance of a lifetime to be a part of something he loves.

Horse racing can be dangerous. Many jockeys hit the track young and sometimes can be left living with a disability. The permanently disabled jockeys fund is there to help with the medical needs of disabled jockeys. One painter that grew up loving the sport is getting the chance to auction off his art to help those in need.

For Keith Estilette, painting always came naturally to him. Growing up, he remembers always having a pencil in his hand. "Sometimes I have a hard time going to bed at night, and then if I go to bed, I stay wide awake. I think of these paintings, and that just means the world to me, to have this God gifted talent that I can share with others."

Estilette's family has been in the horse racing industry for several generations. Now he is getting the chance to be a part of that same industry through his paintbrush.

"I get emotional when I think about it. I grew up at the racetrack with my family. The only portrait we ever took as a family was in the winner circle. Here I am going to Kentucky. I'm donating these paintings to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund," says Estilette.

After his work blew up online, he received a call to help with the disabled jockeys fundraiser.

Estilette says it was a blessing and, with his connections, believes the portraits will sell for even more. "I'm able to go in and talk to the jockeys right before the Kentucky derby. Why not get them to sign the art, which would bring it up in value. Then they will go out for auction."

One of his favorite paintings is of his nephew on the track, and Estilette is reminded of how proud of him he truly is. "We'd run around that race track pretending we were winning the races, and here is cory riding in this Kentucky derby. When I look at him dressing up. I don't just see him as a forty-seven-year-old man dressing up I see that little kid."

But he says there is one thing that he's praying happens...

What would be the emotion that runs through your mind if you were to get that call that you were the official Kentucky derby artist?

"Oh my, it would be two things. I think the first thing I'd do is think for a minute and thank God. The second thing I'm going to do is cry like a baby," says Estilette.

The auction happens every year and will take place during the Kentucky Oaks this Friday. Estilette promises to keep the public informed on which paintings were auctioned off. You can find his Facebook online, click here.

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