This year's annual livestock auction at the Clay County Agricultural Fair did more than showcase the community's farm animals; it raised more than $40,000 to go toward the medical expenses of two local girls, according to the fair's executive director Tasha Hyder.
Sixteen-year-old Hailey Huskey and 14-year-old Halynn Timms were raising animals for the fair's livestock exhibition when they both encountered unexpected medical emergencies, leading to multiple surgeries and an accumulation of hospital bills.
"Once we found out that those girls were having a hard time with their medical bills, it was a no-brainer to bring it in front of the board and approve something that we could do to help them," said Hyder.
Huskey underwent emergency surgery for a rare tumor, causing her to miss the fair where she was set to show her animals. Timms arrived at the fair with a wheelchair and walker that she needed after having multiple surgeries from an ATV accident. With the help of her best friend, Timms' pig was still able to be shown at the auction.
"We decided we wanted to make her [Timms'] pig go high, so all of the funds for that auction would go toward her medical bills," Hyder explained.
The fair's staff also reached out to local businesses for donations, and the fair's glassblower donated two glass sculptures to be auctioned, with the proceeds going to support the girls.
The fair has a year-round program called Our Fair Cares, which raises money for people in need. Hyder believes this is the first time the livestock auction has been a part of the Our Fair Cares program.
Even with the money raised at the fair, both girls will still need time to recover. Hyder explained that Huskey is not expected to need more surgery for the time being, but Timms "has a long road ahead of her."
Both girls' families have been involved in the fair for several years, and Hyder describes them as "personal friends" of the fair.
The Clay County Agricultural Fair will continue to accept donations on behalf of the girls as long as the donations are made out to their names, said Hyder.