When Gracie Valencia got her lamb she decided from the beginning she was going to donate the money from its sale to a good cause.
“I told my mom we’re going to do this,” the 14-year-old says.
This lamb was the Box Elder Middle School student’s fifth lamb raised with the Future Farmers of America and all the money she earned from her lambs to this point had gone to a college fund. This time it was different; instead of putting the money in the bank it was going to Chase the Cure.
Gracie had a cousin donate money to the same cause from donations she received by training a horse at the Cokeville Colt Challenge held at Ogden’s Golden Spike Arena in July.
Gracie’s mother suggested they do the same and so that was the plan.
Gracie said she was nervous going into the lamb auction at the Box Elder County Fair on August 25th. She was hoping to get a good price for her lamb but was worried she might even get less. The lambs showed before her were being sold for less than $500.
When the bidding on Gracie’s lamb got to $1,000 she said she started crying. When it reached $5,000 she couldn’t control herself. She said she cried all the way home that evening. The lamb fetched $7,300.
Jay Stocking of Sierra Homes Construction won the bid. He said when the auctioneer told the crowd what Gracie was doing he decided he wanted to be a part of it.
“I’ve seen crazy stuff in that sale barn,” Stocking says. “It was amazing to see her step up with the lamb and it broke my heart to see what was going on with that poor kid with the disease. If I’m blessed with the ability to help someone else that’s what I want to do.”
He said when he knew she was going to donate all the money to Chase he had to be a part of it.
“It was neat to see her at such a young age to think of someone beside herself,” the father of four says. “This is an amazing place. I was fortunate to be in a position to help.”
Chase “Jasper” Peterson is the face of the Chase the Cure charity, his mother Jessica says. Up until five-years-old he was his dad’s best buddy. He competed in kid rodeos, went on hunting trips and helped around the farm at the side of his father.
“When Jasper started first grade his teacher suggested we have his eyes checked,” his father Matt says. “We had him checked out by a pediatric Ophthalmologist. From there we were referred to a specialist in Salt Lake City.”
That’s where Jasper was diagnosed with a form of Batten disease, a fatal disease of the nervous system that typically begins in childhood. The disease was taking away Jasper’s sight and now the 9-year-old is legally blind. The family was devastated by the news and sought all the help they could while they came to grips with what Jasper’s future.
They discovered the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation, a foundation established to eradicate the disease by raising awareness and funds to accelerate research for a treatment or cure.
The Petersons found there were clinical trials that showed promise at Texas Children’s Hospital. The hospital was testing a treatment to slow down the disease process. There were about 15 to 20 other families there but only had funding to help about half of them.
That is why the Petersons went to work raising funds to help the rest of the families.
“We have a lot of support and family that can help us,” Matt says. “But there were families that didn’t have any support. What about them? And that’s why we started the Chase for a Cure to help the rest of the group.”
Jasper himself sold a lamb at the Cache County Fair livestock auction that fetched $5,000. The family has a Facebook page and a Go Fund Me page and have scheduled different fundraising activities in the Ogden area.
Jessica said she hadn’t heard of anyone donating the proceeds from a county fair livestock sale to a cause.
Mikinlee Scott also showed a lamb at the Box Elder County Fair and was inspired by what Gracie had done. She plans to donate the proceeds from her lamb sale to Chase the Cure when she attends the Utah State Fair livestock auction this Saturday, Sept. 15th.
So far, the Petersons have raised over $11,000. Their goal is to raise $250,000.