By Brian Yearick
Long before last week's National FFA convention, three FFA officers of the State College (Pennsylvania) Little Lions FFA Chapter demonstrated a kind and uncommon charity. Here's the story:
When the auctioneer's gavel silences his cadence, it usually signals the end of a long journey. This time, though, the gavel's fall was different at the Centre County Junior Livestock Sale held during the Grange Encampment and Fair.
During the sale, Cody Harpster, Madison Campbell and Chelsea Bilyeu decided the journey should not end. The three donated more than $6,000 to three medical facilities from the sale of two pigs and a lamb. Each had a specific reason.
Three acts of selflessness
When the gavel fell, Cody Harpster's market hog was sold to HRI, Inc. in State College for $1,350. That money was donated directly to the Penn State University-Hershey Pediatric Cancer Research Center.
Harpster, the FFA chapter's sentinel, didn't have to look far for a reason to donate that money. "A good friend of mine, whom I've grown up showing with, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer this past year," explained the Pennsylvania Furnace youth. "I wanted to do something special for the family."
Madison Campbell, also from Pennsylvania Furnace, had an even more personal reason for donating her proceeds. "In the fall of 2009, I began having seizures," she said. "On Dec. 1, 2009, I had a brain tumor removed, and am now on medicine to control seizures."
"As a part of my senior project, I decided to give back to people who helped me through a rough part of my life. I wanted to give back to something that's impacted my life in so many ways, hoping that my donation would impact others as much as the hospital impacted mine," she added.
Campbell, the FFA chapter secretary, sold her market hog for $2,200 to Joel Confer Ford of Bellefonte, Pa. and Swartz Fire Safety Inc. also of Bellefonte. Her sale proceeds were donated to the Janet Weis Children's Hospital at Geisinger in Danville, Pa.
Chelsea Bilyeu, the FFA chapter's parliamentarian, sold her lamb for $2,500 to Centre Concrete of State College. Bilyeu, of State College, donated her proceeds to the Mt. Nittany Medical Center's Cancer Department in State College.
"As part of my senior project, I wanted to do something that gave back to others," Bilyeu said. "The biggest thing that I could think of was to donate money to a cancer department. My uncle had passed away two years ago from the disease and that played a big part in my life."
They gave up far more than the sale proceeds. Net profits from junior livestock sales are often used to buy animals for next year's fair. They were, indeed, paying acts of selflessness forward.
Yearick, a Penn State senior majoring in journalism and agribusiness management, is from Runville, Pa.