Texas Teen Raises $30,500 for St. Jude Through Charity Livestock Auction

The crowd was moved to donate after 17-year-old cancer survivor Maddie Barber shared plans to donate the funds to the hospital that saved her life.

Maddie Barber Livestock Auction
Photo: Devin Sisk Photography

High school junior Maddie Barber of Boerne, Texas has experienced a lot in her 17 years. After being diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, at the age of 12, she fought an arduous battle that included surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, before being declared cancer-free in 2018.

Over the past three years, Barber has been making the most of her newfound freedom by raising pigs on her family's nine-acre farm as part of the Future Farmers of America organization.

Last month, Barber found a way to combine her new passion with a cause close to her heart by participating in the Kendall County Junior Livestock Show.

At the livestock show, Future Farmers of America members have the opportunity to show their livestock, but instead of being the animals being sold to the highest bidder, audience members adopt the auction style to pledge donations to the kids and teens. Kids typically use the money (on average between $2,000 and $4,000) to start a college fund or to buy more livestock. Barber, however, had another idea for her earnings.

She pledged to donate every cent she raised to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, where she received treatment for her cancer. After Maddie showed the two six-month-old hogs she'd raised since they were piglets, the auctioneer announced her intentions to donate the money she raised. The crowd was so inspired by her story and giving heart that donations started rolling in and soon Maddie had $30,500 to her name.

"I was really in shock that it went so high," Maddie told The Washington Post.

Maddie's mom, Tally Barber, described a "sea of people holding up their bidding numbers," and Cheyanne Waltman, Maddie's agricultural science teacher and Future Farmers of America adviser, said there wasn't a dry eye in the house when the auction was all said and done.

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After the auction, Maddie's hogs were sold for $100 each to a hog farm in California. She plans to continue raising livestock and hopes to keep helping kids fight cancer, too.

"I hope to do whatever I can to help other kids to heal and have a good life," she told The Washington Post. "I feel really fortunate. I want to help somebody else to have that same feeling."

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