Melissa Gantz was in the sale barn at the Carroll County Fair when Leah Grigsby’s hog sold for close to $6,000, more than double what most of the hogs at the sale were going for, July 22. She overheard another attendee make a comment that the hog sold for a pretty high price.
“Well, it’s for a really good cause,” she heard another attendee tell him.
“I started to cry,” Gantz remembers.
Leah Grigsby, 13, is her niece, and she and her brothers all donated the proceeds from their fair projects this year to support their cousin, Claire Gantz, Melissa’s daughter.
Earlier this year, Claire, 12, was diagnosed with leukemia. She’s going through treatment now, and her cousins, Leah, AJ and Garrett Grigsby, all members of Brown Frame 4-H Club, wanted to find a way to help her. Together, the three of them raised more than $15,000 for Claire.
“They wanted her to just not have to worry about some things, like medicine that might not be covered, or if she wanted to have a fun day,” said Jennifer Grigsby, the children’s mom and Melissa Gantz’s sister. “They wanted her to focus on her getting better.”
Claire was diagnosed in March of this year. It was completely unexpected, Melissa said. She had a lump on her face, so her parents took her to the doctor, who reassured them that it was probably just mono. But later that day, they got a call to come back in. The doctors had found leukemia.
“She went from dancing five days a week and playing basketball to being in the hospital,” Melissa said. “So, her whole life kind of got turned upside down”
Since then, Claire has been going to Akron Children’s Hospital anywhere from once a week to five days a week for treatment.
Donating the proceeds from their fair projects was Garrett’s idea.
“He has the biggest heart of any kid I know,” Melissa said.
Garrett, 9, is in his first year of 4-H and showed a pig this year. He came up with the idea to help out Claire as the fair approached, and his siblings both quickly jumped on board.
“I didn’t need a reason; I just wanted to do it for my cousin,” AJ, 13, said.
All three of them donated proceeds from their market hogs, and AJ and Leah also donated proceeds from the still auction, where AJ sold a birdhouse for a self-determined project, and Leah sold cupcakes for a cake decorating project.
They told the Gantz family about their plans a few days before the fair. Claire was hesitant to accept the money, Melissa Gantz said — she knows her cousins worked hard on their projects — but she and her family were touched by the support.
“To have 13-year-olds and a 9-year-old want to donate all their money to their cousin is amazing,” Gantz said. “This is what they wanted to do and can do for her.”
In their buyers letters this year, the Grigsbys told buyers about their cousin and their plans to donate their fair proceeds for Claire. They also brought a note for the auctioneer to read before the sale.
In addition to the buyers who bought their projects, dozens of people contributed with add-ons through the online part of the sale.
“We were blown away with the community support,” Jennifer Grigsby said. “Your heart just kind of overflows … it made me feel very proud of the kids.”
Claire is on the right path with her treatment so far, and doing well despite all of the changes she’s faced in the last few months, Melissa Gantz said.
“She just has such a good outlook,” Gantz said. “She keeps everybody else around her positive.”
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