Hilmar exhibitors at the 2015 Merced County Fair Junior Livestock Auction had top showings of both their respective animals and their philanthropic spirit.
Allyson Sousa, 18, of Hilmar FFA, and her brother, Joshua Sousa, 13, of Hilmar Colony 4-H, will be donating 10 percent of the gross proceeds from their steer projects and 20 percent of the gross from their heifer projects to both the American Cancer Society and to families in their community battling cancer.
This is the fourth year the sister and brother have made the donations, and it all started when their cattle breeder passed away in 2012 from pancreatic cancer, said Allyson.
“As of April this year, we’ve donated $9,300,” she said, adding that doesn’t include the proceeds from Saturday’s auction.
Allyson, who recently graduated from Hilmar High, had the auction’s Champion FFA Market Steer, Reserve Grand Champion Market Steer and Reserve Champion AOB Heifer. Joshua, who will be in the eighth grade at Hilmar Middle School, had the Reserve Champion 4-H Market Steer.
The Sousas aren't the only Hilmar exhibitors with heart.
Brittney Fielder of Hilmar FFA has started a fund to help other livestock exhibitors.
It’s called Fielder’s Emergency Crisis Fund for Merced County and it’s designed to help other livestock exhibitors pay for vet bills when their animal is injured. 4-H exhibitors aren’t able to get insurance for their animals and FFA students get up to $400 to defray the cost of visits to the veterinarian.
The 19-year-old college student was looking forward to showing her lamb at the fair when she got a call from her mother before spring break.
“A neighbor’s dog attacked my lamb and the vet had to remove half the side of his face,” Fielder said.
The vet bills piled up and the owner of the dog that attacked her lamb hasn’t taken responsibility for the pet’s actions or offered to help pay for the $1,500 in medical costs.
Fielder showed her lamb at the fair, and made the best of the situation even though the animal wasn’t able to do all the things he would normally do because of nerve damage suffered in the attack.
“I lost my ability to completely show him off,” she said.
Because of her experience, Fielder wanted to help others who also might be faced with an overwhelming veterinarian bill.
“I’ve seen this happen to other people and then it happened to me, so I wanted to do something about helping others faced with paying a big vet bill,” she said. “We’re already getting a lot of donations. People think it’s a great idea to start this.”
The crisis fund is being handled by Hilmar Stevinson Ag Boosters. For more information or to donate, call 495-0904.