By Alayna DeMartini | Ohio State University
AIn 2019, McKalynne Helmke, a 17-year-old high school junior in Tuscawaras County, had a chance to participate in the Dean’s Charity Steer Show, held at the Ohio State Fair.
This year, even though the charity show didn’t take place, Helmke wanted to raise money for the show’s chosen charity beneficiary, through her county fair auction.
The 2019 charity show was hosted by Cathann A. Kress, dean of Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Helmke was one of the exhibitors selected to raise a steer, show it and auction it to support the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, which offers housing and meals to families while their children receive medical care.
This year, the pandemic prevented the steer show from taking place. Still, Helmke wanted the steer she raised to be donated to the Ronald McDonald House, in Columbus. So, she decided to make it happen.
“Refried” was the name of her steer — as in refried beans. Helmke thought the steer resembled the color of refried beans when he was born. Twice a day, she fed him. Three times a day, she rinsed him to clear off mud.
As a member of the Crooked Run Cloverstitchers 4-H club, Helmke has been raising and showing market steers and hogs since she was 9. But some years it’s tougher to part with a steer and its endearing personality.
“Refried was very loving and nosey at the same time,” Helmke said. “When he came into the barn, he would always be the first one to greet you.”
Before Refried was auctioned at the Tuscarawas County Fair in September, Helmke approached Joe Sarchione, the owner of Sarchione Ford, a car dealership in nearby Stark County. Steer buyers at the fair could give their purchased hogs and steers to the Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry program. But Helmke wanted buyers to also have the option of giving their animals to the Ronald McDonald House. She asked if the dealership would buy her steer at the fair’s auction and then have it donated to the Ronald McDonald House.
Happy to do it, Sarchione bought the steer, which turned out to be 850 pounds of hamburger, roast and steak, all of which will be taken to the charity in Columbus sometime in the coming weeks.
“2020 has been a challenging year for all of us, but we do it for the kids,” said Dustin King, general manager of Sarchione Ford of Waynesburg. “They deserve to have their community support them.”
Sarchione also bought 12 hogs and donated them as well. That paved the way for others at the Tuscarawas County Fair to help fill the freezer at the Ronald McDonald House.
In total, 16 hogs bought at the event were donated. Those 2,000 pounds of bacon and pork, along with the 850 pounds of beef, will be packed into a truck and delivered to the Ronald McDonald House in the coming weeks.
“They have to feed so many people there,” Helmke said about the charity. “Anything helps.”
Now, Helmke is focused on raising Ferdinand and Bean, steers she’ll take to next fall’s fair.
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