Some 4-H and FFA participants save the money they earn from selling their animals at fairs toward college or put it back toward another project. Some will donate at least a portion of their money to a worthy cause.
Nine-year-old Cambridge resident Tyson Woodard took the latter approach with his first-ever entry, a goat named Donnie, during the 2012 Guernsey County Fair.
The boy and his family decided to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation "so every kid that has the same stuff that I do can find a cure to be healthy," he said.
Cambridge resident Tyson Woodard, center front, stands with his goat Donnie and representatives of the 28 companies who paid more than $10,000 for the animal, 100 percent of which Tyson and his family donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Goodpaster
But Tyson, his family and the regional businesses that joined forces to support him got more than they bargained for when the final price on his goat came in at more than $10,000.
"I made $10,600, and they said that I got to keep my goat," Tyson said.
Terry Hatcher, a landman with Marietta-based Artex Oil, was among those who agreed to go in together to boost the price of the animal during the Sept. 13 junior fair sale once they learned of how the money would be used.
Hatcher said he was approached by an employee of Zanesville-based Zemba Brothers Inc. who said he'd like to see the amount bid on the goat top $2,000. Hatcher said he agreed "because of what the little boy was doing and the fact that he was going to donate 100 percent.
"(That) shows exactly what kind of a man he was as a young child and what kind of values 4-H instilled in him," he said.
A genetic disorder, cystic fibrosis causes the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus. This leads to life-threatening lung infections, obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes in the body from helping with the breaking down and absorption of food. Few children with CF lived to attend elementary school in the 1950s, but today, many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.
Tyson's family has contributed to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation all his life, said his father, John Glenn High School boys basketball coach Greg Woodard. He had been working behind the scenes to bring together multiple bidders for the goat so that Tyson would have a good showing but no one entity would have to spend a large amount of money. By the time he and Tyson went to bring the goat in for the auction, the total was around $2,600.
"It just kind of took off," Woodard said.
But the bidding would go much higher than that when Ted Korte, owner of TK Gas Services in New Concord, got involved.
Korte, a friend of the Woodard family, knew what Tyson's money was going toward, but he was out of the loop on the efforts of the other businesses. So he started making his own bids, which eventually reached $5,200.
Someone from the group pooling their resources went over to Korte, explained what they were trying to do and asked if he wanted to join them.
"I said, 'Sure. I made the bid. My bid's good,'" Korte said.
When Korte's bid was combined with all the money others had pledged, the total was $10,600. That's definitely a record for goats at the fair, and maybe for any animal, Woodard said.
"I thought the auctioneer was going to fall off the block," Korte recalled.
Korte has bought animals before to support a girl who donated her proceeds to diabetes research. He said his decision to pay what he did for Tyson's goat was not meant to draw attention to himself but simply "a movement of the heart."
"Sometimes you got to do what you feel," he said. "He's quite a young man for 9 years old. You can talk to him about like he's a young adult."
To Hatcher, the experience showed how communities can pull together to support one of their own, even in difficult economic times.
"He had no clue what we were doing," Hatcher said of Korte. "He just threw his hand up on his own. That's community right there."
Hatcher said there "wasn't a dry eye in the barn" afterward. Woodard described what transpired as "staggering."
"It was probably the neatest thing I've ever seen or been a part of," he said.
As for Tyson, he thinks the bidders - who finally totaled 28 - are "awesome." But probably even more exciting to him than how much money he'll be able to donate to cystic fibrosis research is that he got to keep his goat, who he named after his grandfather.
Tyson said he plans to turn his attention to cattle in future fairs. And his dad said they plan to donate those proceeds to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as well.
"We're going to do that every year and hopefully, before he graduates, they find a cure," he said.