Hog sale raises funds for cystic fibrosis

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Isaac Klingman

WOOSTER, Ohio — With the hog sale underway the last day of the Wayne County Fair, everyone anticipated a long morning and afternoon with over 400 market hogs to be sold. But when Jeff Gasser, of Jeff “Jake” Gasser Auction Services, took the microphone to introduce the next seller, he had the crowd’s attention.

All eyes were on 16-year-old Isaac Klingman as he made the announcement that he would be donating all the money he made from his market hog to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and he would also be doing the auctioneering himself.

Isaac Klingman
Isaac Klingman

“On July 26 this summer, my cousin passed away from cystic fibrosis…,” Isaac said to the crowd. “In memory of him I want to donate 100 percent of the proceeds today, to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. That’s going to help pay for medical bills and education for kids who can’t go to school because they can hardly breathe.”

Isaac was very close to his cousin, Jacob Klingman, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby and was only 22 when he died. They were the only male cousins on the Klingman side of the family tree and Isaac looked up to his older cousin, explained Kim Klingman, Isaac’s mother.

But no one — not Isaac’s family nor even Isaac himself — knew the day would also include the teen selling his own pig.
Jeff Gasser approached Isaac with only two people ahead of him in line to sell.

“He said, ‘do you want to auction off your pig?’ And I said ‘no,’” said Isaac, who has wanted to be an auctioneer ever since he was 12.

The exchange went back and forth six times before Isaac finally agreed.

Two years ago Isaac was asked if he would like to sell his own hog, but he turned it down, explained Kim. Last year, at a Norwayne FFA benefit dinner, some of his fellow classmates convinced him to auction off some of the items in the benefit auction.

“It was the first time he had done that in front of a crowd,” his mother said.

“He jokingly told me this year, ‘if they ask me to do it again, I am going to do it.’” But given the circumstances following his cousin’s death, Kim was unsure if he would be able to handle it.

“I was really nervous. I couldn’t stop shaking,” said Isaac. This was a much bigger crowd than he had at the benefit auction and he was trying to hold back his emotions and his surprise at how high the bid was going.

Bob Graber, the auctioneer for the sale that day, stood behind Isaac and held him in place, saying “he was shaking like a leaf.”

Anonymous buyers

The crowd rose to its feet in applause once Isaac closed the bid at $15.75 a pound to a group of anonymous buyers. His hog weighed 247 pounds.

Kim said Isaac was able to hold his emotions in check until he called his aunt and uncle (Jacob’s parents). They were both able to hear some of the auction through a phone call and told Kim they almost had to pull over, they were so overwhelmed with emotion.

“It was one of those moments when he just made the whole family so proud,” said Kim. “No one would tell us who all was involved in the group that donated to Isaac’s hog, but we would all just like to say ‘thank you.’”

Kevin Keener, a friend of the family who worked alongside Gasser to rally people together to donate, said roughly 30 people donated money to the cause. “They asked to remain anonymous, saying ‘it’s not about us, it is about the cause.’”

Community support

Following the sale, Gasser addressed the audience, “we have a lot of wonderful people in Wayne County. Our family found that out when we lost our son, too.”

At the close of the sales this year, it was estimated $8,400 was raised in donations from 4-H and FFA members to various organizations in and around the community. Some of those organizations included the Wayne County 4-H Scholarship Fund, Wayne County 4-H Development Fund, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, People to People Ministries, Central America Medical Outreach, the Ballinger Family and other.

“There were a lot of kids who donated 100 percent to causes,” said Keener, noting many donations were to the Ballinger family of the

Northwestern School District, who lost a father and husband to cancer this year.

“There was a lot of giving this year,” said Keener.

“I can’t even tell you what a great community we are a part of,” said Kim Klingman.

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Catie Noyes lives in Ashland County and earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture communications from The Ohio State University. She enjoys photography, softball and sharing stories about agriculture. Formerly a reporter for the Farm and Dairy, Catie is now pursuing her master's degree in education.

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