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4-H’er leaves legacy by showing livestock

It’s not very often the Indiana Children’s Wish Foundation grants a wish for a cow. Christopher Cummings, Union Mills, received a Hereford heifer, and his young life’s passion was born. Chris’ wish helped carry him through four and a half years of cancer. Now it helps his family carry on. He died June 29.

Chris’ passing left Indiana’s ag, 4-H and cattle communities with warm and indelible memories of a courageous 4-H’er who smiled broadly in the face of great adversity. He hung on to his strong faith in God and stuck close to family.

4-H is all about service. Chris brought out the best in fellow 4-H’ers. He completed 10 years in 4-H. His love for the program was felt by many.

Others step up

Youth clamored for the opportunity to show his cattle at this year’s LaPorte County Fair. Opening day would have been his 19th birthday. Sarah Ambers showed his 1,434-pound steer, Homer, named after Homer Simpson. Homer was champion Hereford and reserve champion of the beef show.

His local community, the state’s ag community, and even folks from other states and Canada, stepped up to bolster the fund for his steer at auction. More than $21,000 was committed by more than 200 people for the teen who underwent nine surgeries, countless hospital visits and numerous treatments.

How it began

The Indiana Hereford community was thrilled when they heard Chris wanted a Hereford to launch his cattle career. My family had the privilege of stalling near his family at the Hoosier Beef Congress and the Indiana State Fair. We were tickled by how emphatically Chris wanted to groom his animals.

While setting up for the 2010 Junior National Hereford Expo in Indianapolis this July, we were stunned to learn of Chris’ passing. Immediately, several Indiana Hereford youth offered to show Chris’ animals if they came to the show. I remember walking through the barn as families set up and seeing Chris’ parents, Tom and Carol, setting up their stall equipment.

Incredulous that they could bear to come on the heels of their son’s funeral, we hugged them and cried for Chris and for them. We knew they came to fulfill another wish — to show his cattle on a national platform. Chris was honored during the show.

“This is what Christopher was all about,” Carol says. “He was passionate about his cattle. His dad would drive the Gator up to the porch in the mornings and drive Chris to the pasture. I’m so glad we’ll complete his wishes of raising his cattle. I told him before he passed that he’d be a shepherd of cattle in heaven and watch over his calves here.”

Chris Cummings’ big smile and his love for cattle live on in many hearts. Our prayers and appreciation for a wonderful young man go out to his family. May we all be as purposeful and passionate about the wishes of our hearts.

Editor’s note: A steer Chris raised was reserve champion Hereford steer at the 2010 Indiana State Fair. A fellow 4-H’er showed it for him.

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Love of his life: Cancer didn’t stop Chris Cummings from living his life and loving Hereford cattle.

This article published in the September, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.