PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — A lamb named Henry fetched $162 per pound at an Oregon auction where lambs were generally going for $7 a pound.
What made Henry such a prize at the Umatilla County Fair is he was raised by Maddy Thomas, an 11-year-old girl from Echo who was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year. The $23,200 will help her family cover continuing medical-related expenses.
The lamb didn't start out as a fundraiser idea. The 4-H student just wanted to participate in a normal activity after regaining some strength. She got Henry in May and began walking him, feeding him and grooming him.
"I liked him because he liked to head butt me and he was always playful," Maddy said. "I liked walking him around the house."
Her mother Jenny Thomas told the East Oregonian newspaper she heard talk that people were conspiring to pay more for Maddy's lamb, but she thought that meant $10 per pound.
Instead, the bidding went up to $50 per pound. The fair then allowed "add-ons" from people who didn't win the animal but still wanted to contribute.
Livestock auction superintendent Marie Linnell described the atmosphere during the bidding as "electric," and said auctioneer Ford Bonney started choking up while taking bids.
The auction marked the one-year anniversary of Maddy's diagnosis. Jenny Thomas said she doesn't have words to describe how grateful she is for the show of support.
"Anyone who has had a sick child knows the kind of bills that come, and I've had to miss a lot of work," she said.
When fair time came, Maddy brought her lamb to the barns with the other youth and enjoyed a week at the fair. When the youth livestock auction rolled around on Saturday, she found it bittersweet to lose her lamb.
"It was hard saying goodbye," she said.
Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.com