Washington teen goes to work for Make-A-Wish

Published: February 26, 2006 | 3631st good news item since 2003

It wasn’t long ago that 17-year-old William Jackson of Washington was on the receiving end of a Make-A-Wish gift.

During that difficult time four years ago, the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave Jackson a laptop and other computer components that allowed him to stay in touch with friends and continue his school work despite being sick. And on Dec. 30, 2003, Jackson had a kidney transplant.

Now Jackson wants to give back to the organization that helped him through a rough time in his young life. He plans to raise a steer and put it up for auction this summer to benefit Make-A-Wish. And he’s getting some assistance with that project from Aldermere Farm, where he is a member of the 4-H Club called Aldermere Achievers.

On Thursday, Aldermere Farm Manager Ron Howard presented Jackson with a belted Galloway steer named Razz. Aldermere Farm, now owned by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, is one of the world’s premier belted Galloway cattle breeders and a favorite scenic attraction in the Camden and Rockport area.

The 136-acre farm was founded by the late Albert H. Chatfield Jr. and is permanently protected by conservation easements. Chatfield bequeathed the farm to MCHT when he died in 1999.

Aldermere “Belties” are known to breeders around the world as some of the finest stock anywhere. Bred primarily for beef, Belties originated in the mountains of Southwest Scotland, where they became an exceptionally hardy breed, adapting to the severe conditions. Unlike many other breeds, the Belties were able to forage for themselves on the range during the winter and their development under severe conditions made the breed highly resistant to disease and genetic problems.

Nearly a year old, Razz weighs in at around 630 pounds. It will be Jackson’s job to care for the steer, a responsibility that will increase as the white stripe around Razz’s midsection grows over the next seven months. It’s that white stripe sandwiched between the black front and back ends that earned the Beltie its “Oreo Cookie Cow” nickname.

“There’s a lot of work to do getting ready for show day,” Jackson said. “Feeding, cleaning the pen, trimming the tail, shaving the hair on his head, trimming his coat, shampooing, blowing dry and leading, lots of leading.”

Jackson said he will spend as much time as possible leading Razz around, getting him comfortable with the halter and lead rope, and making sure he’s not fidgety or nervous around people, especially judges.

Jackson’s previous experience with livestock has been raising and showing pigs, but he said cattle are easier to work.

“You can’t put a halter on a pig and tie it to a post to work with it like you can cattle,” Jackson said.

Jackson and Aldermere Farm will enter Razz in at least three livestock shows this summer, including the Bangor State Fair (July 28-Aug. 6), the Union Fair (Aug. 20-26), and the Windsor Fair (Aug. 27-Sept. 4).

It’s at the Windsor Fair where Jackson plans to sell Razz at auction. And after seven months of hard work preparing the Beltie for show and ultimately market, he will donate the money he earns at the auction to Make-A-Wish.

Amy Theiss, communications director for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine, was on hand Thursday for the donation of Razz to Jackson. “It’s always a great honor for us when wish kids come back to help us,” she said.

And while Howard knows Jackson, who will take Razz to Washington to live at a nearby farm, has a big job ahead, the Aldermere Farm manager hopes the partnership of Beltie and boy will inspire buyers come August.

“The real coup will be if we can get enough buyers at the fair, as this is an auction and they could bring in a good price,” Howard said.

Published in Kids & Teens, Values, Volunteer
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