BERLIN — There’s a new jewel roaming the dunes and marshes of Assateague Island — a wild horse by the name of Sapphire.
The wild horse was recently given the new name in remembrance of JoAnne Donovan, a long-time volunteer with the park’s Pony Patrol who died unexpectedly on Nov. 25, 2011. The naming coincides with the beginning of another summer of activity by Pony Patrol volunteers.
“JoAnne was a committed member of the Pony Patrol and a real asset to the park,” said Seashore Superintendent Trish Kicklighter. “We felt strongly that JoAnne’s service to the Seashore needed to be commemorated. She loved the horses and loved talking with folks about them.”
Pam Stansell, a close friend of Donovan’s and regular partner in the Pony Patrol, chose the name "Sapphire" for T3DH-D, a 7-year-old bay mare.
"Jo loved her jewelry, particularly yellow gold and sapphires. Sapphires were her favorite,” Stansell said.
Interestingly enough, the newly named Sapphire spent all but the most recent year of her life with an Assateague stallion named "Blue".
As an educator for more than three decades, Donovan was a well-known and respected member of the community and touched thousands of lives. Beyond education, her interests included travel, photography, music, bike riding and arts and crafts. She was also actively engaged in a wide variety of volunteer and charitable activities in her community of Ocean Pines.
The volunteer Pony Patrol was established in 1991 to help prevent “close encounters of the equine kind” between park visitors and the Island’s famous wild horses. Pony Patrol volunteers cruise the roads and parking lots armed with information about the horses and words of wisdom for enjoying their presence safely.