By Matt Reese
This summer Kile “Andy” Hayden was in a terrible car accident with his younger brothers, Jeffery and Michael. Andy was killed and his younger brothers were seriously injured. Prior to the tragedy, they were on their way to care for their 4-H hogs in preparation for the upcoming Scioto County Fair.
Andy was a promising young man who was well known in the hog barn at the county fair for helping out whenever he could and taking the time to help younger 4-Hers with their projects.
“It was the same day as the county skillathon at the fairgrounds. There were a couple hundred people there and word got around pretty quickly,” said Jo Williams, the Scioto County 4-H educator. “People were already talking about how they could help the family that day.”
While dealing with the devastating loss of one son, Carl and Susie Hayden were also facing the stress and medical expenses with two other sons in the hospital as they battled their serious injuries.
“The Senior Fair Board approved of auctioning off the pig at end of the livestock sale to raise money for the Hayden family’s medical bills,” she said. “Another 4-Her stepped up to show the pigs for the boys who could not due to their injuries. And, even though Jeffrey and Michael couldn’t show their pigs, they were still there and even stayed overnight at the fair one night. It was a really neat thing to see everyone come together and support the family.”
Even before the sale at the fair, fellow 4-Hers took up a collection in the barn and coordinated efforts with local businesses to raise money for the family. No one was quite sure what to expect when the sale finally arrived.
“The starting bid for the Hayden hog was $10,000 that had been raised before the sale even started,” Williams said. “Then we had 172 kids who donated a portion of their livestock sales to raise another $3,360 – that was just from the kids out of their checks.”
Whether they had been planning to bid or not, locals businesses began collectively adding to the total at the emotional event on Aug. 13. Rather than bidding against each other, bidders just upped the total amount by what they wanted to contribute. Part way through the auction of the pig, the total got another boost.
“A little boy brought in a baseball hat filled with crumpled bills he’d collected and gave it to the auctioneer,” she said. “There were 73 local businesses or groups listed as buyers, but there are more cash donations that are not listed.”
In total, the final bid for the hog was a whopping $34,370, which will go a long way to help the struggling family. The family plans to start a memorial swine herdsman award program for 4-H to help the community remember Andy.
“The family handled it remarkably well. It was very emotional for them and for everyone watching. It was sad, but it was neat to see the support for the family though 4-H,” Williams said. “We teach a lot of lessons that we hope help kids learn to be good citizens who give back to their community. This really shows that they are learning it. More than half of the kids showing livestock donated some money.”
Susie Haden said the family was overwhelmed and amazed at the community’s response in terms of the funds raised and in the kind comments about Andy. Williams said the amount of money that was donated may have been a surprise, but the generosity and community outreach was not.
“We have counties that are struggling with budgets and funding for 4- H and Extension, but examples like this give you hope to see the good things that can come from it,” she said. “We are really lucky to have great support for 4-H from the community and the commissioners. They understand that 4-H is a family program, it is not just the kid taking the project most of the time. It is something they do together as a family. There is also a larger 4-H family, and a situation like this shows how lucky we are and how much we have to be proud of. These kids are learning life lessons that are larger than learning how to feed a pig.”