LAKE WORTH, Fla. - Fancy hats and the Kentucky Derby go together like Florida and sunshine. And crafts and creativity fit with retired Lake Worth teacher Teri McFadden Abrams perfectly.
She knows how to re-cane chairs, make belts from pop tops and use aluminum cans to build a rose. With encouragement from friends, she made a hat from recycled materials suitable for the Kentucky Derby.
The lampshade base is topped with a papier mache horse. Its blanket is made from old blackout drapes. Soda can roses decorate the base as tiny horses found at a garage sale march around the edge.
"My daughter's second grade class came up with the idea of recycling a lampshade," she said.
That was just the start.
"I decided I could recycle everything, so I have yard sale horses and I have wine corks and I have soda cans I made into roses," she said.
McFadden Abrams entered a contest with NBC's Hoda and Kathie Lee show. Monday, she learned as she watched the program, she won a trip to the 139-year-old race. Her airfare, hotel and tickets are included.
"First time at the derby? Oh yes," she exclaimed.
Aside from the obvious fashion choice of wearing a hat to the Kentucky Derby, McFadden Abrams has a personal reason for donning a chapeau.
"I was never aware that you could get a melanoma on your head. I was out in the sun all the time, my children played ball, I sat in the stands. I never thought about a hat," she said.
The largest horse on her special hat wears a number five. The horse is somewhat of an underdog in the big race, but she will put money on him, as five has always been her lucky number.
"Five years is the survival rate to say we have won the race, the cancer race, and number five is going to win the derby too," she laughed.
As for what McFadden Abrams will wear to the big race, that's up for debate.
"I am hoping not to have to wear it, but I would, if I had to," she laughed, looking at her homemade hat.