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Sculpture’s sale will help pay Coulee Dam woman’s medical bills

Artist Virgil Marchand is raffling off this 10-foot sculpture, titled
Artist Virgil Marchand is raffling off this 10-foot sculpture, titled "Spirit Horse," to benefit his sister, Susie Marchand, who has medical bills from a debilitating illness that may require her to have a lung transplant. Courtesy of Virgil Marchand (Courtesy of Virgil Marchand)

Family selling raffle tickets for artist’s unique creation

Omak artist Virgil “Smoker” Marchand has a 10-foot-tall plan to help his sister with medical costs from a disease that is expected to require a lung transplant.

He calls it “Spirit Horse.”

Marchand made an iron sculpture of a rearing horse for a raffle to benefit his sister, Susie Marchand.

The 54-year-old Coulee Dam woman suffers from polymyositis, a degenerative muscle disease that caused her to develop lung-damaging pulmonary fibrosis, according to her daughter, Tauni Marchand.

Doctors expect her to need a lung transplant in three to five years, and uninsured costs could be in the neighborhood of a quarter-million dollars, Tauni Marchand said.

The sculpture celebrates a spiritual connection in which Smoker Marchand said Native Americans came to regard the horse as “an extension of their own being.”

He said the sculpture also honors three other important creatures: the coyote, a trickster who “taught us the ways of the animal people”; the buffalo, who provided everything except water; and the all-seeing eagle, who “flies closest to the Great Mystery.”

The coyote, buffalo and eagle appear as cutouts that transmit a background of earth and sky through the sculpture as it sits in Marchand’s pasture.

The family is selling raffle tickets for $25 apiece. Tauni Marchand said she will ask her mother to pull the winning ticket from a barrel at 4 p.m. Aug. 15.

The drawing will be in the Indian encampment area of the Omak Stampede Grounds in Omak.