You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Boy with cerebral palsy auctions off prize pig to help mom with ALS


In the parlance of the beloved children’s classic Charlotte’s Web, this is some pig.

It’s not only that 280-pound Hokey is one of the heftiest denizens of the Hog Barn at this weekend’s Montgomery County Fair.

His owner, 18-year-old Gabe Wetzel, definitely has the biggest heart. Gabe, who has cerebral palsy, is auctioning off his prize pig Monday to raise money for the ALS Association in honor of his mother, Susan, has recently been diagnosed with the degenerative muscle condition better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“He wants to do something for his mother because she has done so much for him,” said his father, Dave Wetzel, 50. Older brother Andrew, 22, is too old for 4-H, but helps with the hogs.

Added Susan, “My boys want to give back. That’s the kind of boys they are.”

A large banner flies over the stall that houses Hokey and his brother Pokey: “Help Gabe make a big difference”in the fight against ALS.

The family is getting lots of support from the other 4-H families who have known David and Susan since they were 13-year-olds who fell in love at the Montgomery County Fair. Gabe is involved with the Happy Farmers 4-H Club, which is 75 years old. “Look around this barn,” Susan marveled. “Everyone here grew up with 4-H, and so did their parents and grandparents.”

The couple, who has been married for 29 years, couldn’t have foreseen their future challenges during those carefree teen years when, too young to date, they looked forward to seeing each other every year at the county fair. Both Gabe and their older son, Andrew, 22, have developmental delays as well as cerebral palsy. Gabe, a junior at the Montgomery County Educational Center, also has a heart condition. It seemed a cruel twist of fate when Susan was diagnosed with ALS last October, not long after last year’s county fair.

But Susan doesn’t look at it that way. “I am blessed beyond blessed,” she said, “with my family, friends, church.”

Growing up on the 36-acre family farm in Clayton has enabled both boys to achieve their maximum potential, their parents said. Andrew raises chickens and sells pumpkins and gourds every fall. “They work on the family farm and they are a huge help,” Susan said. “We don’t coddle them.”

Susan’s first symptom was a drop foot that slapped against the pavement when she walked. She was diagnosed with ALS when tests ruled out every other condition. Her quality of life is excellent, she said, although she gets around with the help of a cane or a motorized chair. Dave carries her up the stairs of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Dayton every Sunday.

As for self-pity, Susan laughed, “I don’t have time.” She can no longer collect eggs, or do many of her other farm chores, but she keeps busy with canning and baking.

Since Susan’s illness, Dave said, “I’ve come to realize how much she did. She has been there every minute for the boys, while I was off farming, off to work.”

Dave’s parents, as well as his brother and his family, live on nearby farms and have helped tremendously since her illness, Susan said: “We are very close as a family and we do everything together.”

Gabe brings his mother flowers from the garden every morning — a gesture that moves Susan deeply, even when the bouquet consists mostly of milkweed and dandelions. “He would do anything to help his mom,” Dave said.

Susan said her sons “know something is wrong, but they don’t know the depth of it.”

But they know the ALS Association has helped their mother, and they want to do their part. Gabe showed Hokey at the market hog competition, where he won third place. “He can show a pig,” his father said with pride. “He isn’t given any special consideration, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”

The hog auction will begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday and is expected to last 90 minutes or more. Hokey will be auctioned last, and all proceeds will go to the ALS Association. County fair officials as well as the ALS Associations will be accepting donations with the memo line “Gabe’s pig.”

“You don’t have to take home a 280-pound. pig in order to help,” Dave said.

The bidding is expecting to go high for this radiant, humble, terrific pig.

“It’s such a great idea, and there are so many families here who support each other,” said family friend, Sandy Seim of New Lebanon.

The bidding war will have a lot to do with Hokey’s own merits, of course, but also with the extraordinary family who has shown such grace in the face of adversity.

“We may not look fine to the outside world, but we’re fine,” Susan said. “God is good. And to whom much is given, much is expected.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Air Force One transition report shows Trump's plane was once Paul Allen's
Air Force One transition report shows Trump's plane was once Paul Allen's

When asked what they miss most about the presidency, former presidents often say Air Force One. But CBS News reports that, for Trump, the transition from one wide-body plane to a wider-bodied plane might be considered a downgrade. CBS News compared the history of Air Force One to that of Trump’s plane. Their analysis revealed...
Georgia fugitive accused of killing wife found dead in Vietnam
Georgia fugitive accused of killing wife found dead in Vietnam

Nearly two months after he allegedly killed his estranged wife, a DeKalb County, Georgia man was found dead in Vietnam, police said Thursday. >> Read more trending stories  Orlando Raymond Price was found dead in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Jan. 11, according to Major S.R. Fore with DeKalb police. The U.S. Embassy in Vietnam notified police this...
What is mystery blob on Doppler radar?
What is mystery blob on Doppler radar?

By Eric Elwell, Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist A mysterious blob has been showing up on Doppler radar this afternoon and evening near Van Wert, Ohio. Rain has been moving in, but this blob is not actually precipitation falling from the sky. So what is it? Turns out this is the Blue Creek Wind Farm – owned by Avangrid Renewables – that...
Helicopter video shows take down of accused Orlando cop killer
Helicopter video shows take down of accused Orlando cop killer

The Orlando Police Department released helicopter video Thursday of the take down of Markeith Loyd, who is accused of shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend before gunning down Lt. Debra Clayton in a Walmart parking lot. >> Read more trending stories  Loyd was arrested Tuesday night at an abandoned home in the Carver...
Gloomy weather expected for inauguration in DC
Gloomy weather expected for inauguration in DC

By Eric Elwell, Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist It will be gloomy and rainy in our nation’s capital Friday as hundreds of perhaps thousands attend the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. The wet weather in the Miami Valley Thursday night and early Friday will head to Washington, D.C. Rain there is expected to develop by mid to late...
More Stories