WELLINGTON — With the help of a group of local businesses a Firelands Elementary student with cerebral palsy, whose mother recently died, was able to set a new fair auction record.
Gracie Groot, 9, recreation leader for the Camden Kids 4-H Club, entered her first official 4-H auction this year with the first animal she’s raised. The competition occurred just two months after Gracie’s 43-year-old mother, Michelle, the 4-H club’s adviser, died from complications from an unexpected medical condition.
When Gracie's sheep, Starlight Gem, went up for auction, a group of generous local businesses chipped in to purchase it for a record-setting $27 a pound. Multiply that by the sheep’s weight of 135 pounds, and Gracie took home $3,645 for her first 4-H project.
Gracie’s aunt, Angie Yaworsky, said the kind gesture helped ease the family’s grief.
“It was a wonderful tribute to my sister to support her child like this,” Yaworsky said. “My sister always showed sheep years ago when she was in 4-H. That was her thing, and she was excited about Grace showing a sheep.”
Jamie Jordan, whose three children are in the Camden Kids 4-H Club, said the generosity of the businesses that chipped in filled the auction site with emotion.
“This was a very hard year for everybody in the club and everyone that knew Michelle,” Jordan said. “When she sold the lamb, nobody knew it was going to be like that. Everybody was crying.”
Jordan said the memory of the purchasers’ kindness won’t soon fade.
“They are just a wonderful, kind-hearted group,” Jordan said. “They have Gracie and the whole family’s best interests at heart.”
Gracie said she misses her mother and wishes she had been around to see her show Starlight Gem.
“She was a good 4-H adviser,” Gracie said of her mother. “She loved me a lot, and she loved 4-H.”
A love of family, fairs and 4-H is a tradition that Gracie fully intends to carry on as her mother did.
“I like 4-H a lot,” Gracie said. “It’s a family tradition, and we come here every year.”
Businesses that helped include Pitts Farms, Schlechter Construction Services, Grills Family Boer Goats, Millers Registered Shorthorns, C&L Shoes, Grills Family Farm, Absolute Machine Tools, Grobe Fruit Farm, Sunrise Co-Op Inc., Kalt Manufacturing and PAKK Systems.