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This year’s Lincoln County Fair was more than a week of festivities, music and food. For some it was life changing.
When 15-year-old Nathan Stone, of Elsberry, got to the fair on Thursday night he had no clue what was going to happen over the next couple of days. All he had was a goal and heart full of determination to achieve it. It all started during the Trent Huber and Jillian Memorial Trap Shoot event, when Nathan approached Kim Lovelace-Young. According to his mother, Dawn Stone, Nathan wanted to donate everything he would make during the Lincoln County Fair for his hog to the Jillian Young Memorial Scholarship.
“I didn’t really have the opportunity to do anything big for Jillian [Young] when she passed. I figured this was my chance to do something, so I took it,” said Nathan.
Prior to the fair Nathan had to make a letter, as do most kids showing livestock and search out his own buyers. Unfortunately, he wasn’t getting many leads and according to his mother, all he really heard was, “We’ll see what we can do.” No one seemed to take the time to read his letter, which indicated what his intentions were for the money.
“It’s hard when you’re 15-years-old trying to say everything in a letter with all that emotion,” said Dawn. “So when we got here Thursday night, he was afraid he didn’t have anybody. He left his name and number on that letter and that letter stated to give him a call if they had any questions or comments and nobody called.”
Nathan told his parents he was worried he wasn’t going to be able to raise the money he wanted to and wouldn’t be able to do what he wanted to do with it. He wasn’t worried about his expenses. In fact he said, “If I only raise $600, that’s what I’m going to give. I don’t care; I’m not worried about my expenses.”
“He was so worried about not making anything. But the gentleman we bought our trailer from was going to go in on our son Nicholas’s lamb. However, someone else ended up buying his lamb,” said Dawn. “So we asked him since he wasn’t able to go in on Nicholas’s lamb, how about going in on Nathan’s hog. It was a little more money, more poundage, but after hearing the story about what Nathan wanted to do with the money, he simply said ‘I’m on it.’”
According to Dawn, he kept his word and not only purchased some poundage, but really worked the crowd.
“He’s been in business for many years, but he worked that crowd and in no time he had a good number of buyers,” said Dawn.
Jason Vandivort, Elsberry FFA advisor, also helped work the crowd, as well as a few others. But Nathan had no idea any of this was going on. All he seemed to be concerned with was washing his hog, getting ready for the show and hoping he could do what he planned on doing.
Prior to the show, Nathan had a moment with his mother where he desperately said he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to raise any money for Jillian. But according to Nathan it was like God or Jillian or both held his hand throughout the show.
“When I first got my hog in that ring, when they said my name, the lights seemed to get brighter, the hog was just shining,” said Nathan. “I mean before going in you could see his blonde hair, but when he got in that ring it’s like he turned to gold. He was glowing.”
According to Nathan, hogs typically go for $6 a pound. So when he was told that he was up to $14 a pound, Nathan said he couldn’t stand there and keep a straight face.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Nathan. “I just started [crying].”
At the end of it all, Nathan received $31 a pound for his hog, which totaled out to be approximately $8600.
“Being able to go from expecting nothing to raising that amount of money just changed everything,” said Nathan. “Before that moment I had no real ambition of going to college and this actually pushes me to want to go. It’s changed a lot.”
After his experience at this year’s fair, Nathan said he is a lot more optimistic about going to a tech college to become a mechanic. He also said when he first thought of doing this, when it first “clicked” in his head, he didn’t think he would get more than $600 and that is all his goal was.
“I am just so proud of my boy and what he’s done is just remarkable,” said Nathan’s father, Terry Stone, in tears. “It wasn’t even a second thought for Nathan. In fact, he had to be talked into at least keeping the money he had into the hog, which was about $800.”
Out of the $8,600 raised, $7,800 went to the Jillian Memorial Scholarship. However, that’s not where it ends. The buyers donated the hog back to Stone and he has decided to either market or auction the hog and give that money to the scholarship as well.
“If you have friends and family, you can do anything,” said Nathan. “If you don’t have that, you kind of stand there and go nowhere. I’m just so happy that I was able to accomplish this for Jillian and her family.”
According to Nathan and his parents, he is the only one to ever get $31 a pound and the highest fundraising amount in the history of the Lincoln County Fair.