4-H Club raises, auc­tions pig to sup­port Ethan Kunkel fam­ily

More than $4,000 col­lected so far to help Kunkel, who is bat­tling leukemia

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - FRONT PAGE - By Kolleen Long For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

For the sec­ond year, mem­bers of the Berks County 4-H Swine Club auc­tioned a bar­row dur­ing the Round-Up Sale at the Kutz­town Fair. The pig auc­tion raised $2,600 for the fam­ily of Kemp­ton res­i­dent Ethan Kunkel.

“Ethan was re­cently di­ag­nosed with, and is be­ing treated for, leukemia,” Michele Brown, as­sis­tant swine club leader, ex­plained. “He has been a very ac­tive contributor to the Berks County com­mu­nity and is the cur­rent Deputy Chief of the Kemp­ton Fire Com­pany.”

The Kathy Barry In­sur­ance Agency pur­chased the bar­row at the 4-H Live­stock Round-Up Auc­tion held at Kutz­town Fair Aug. 19. Ad­di­tional com­mu­nity do­na­tions have brought the to­tal raised to $4,445 and do­na­tions are still com­ing in.

A bar­row is a cas­trated male pig and is a com­mon choice for most 4-H mar­ket hog par­tic­i­pants. In or­der to sell at roundup, the bar­rows must have a cer­tifi­cate of ve­teri­nary in­spec­tion which guar­an­tees the an­i­mal is healthy and suit­able for com­pe­ti­tion and sale.

This year’s bar­row, nick­named Mikey, was raised by Zaren Ker­per from Fleet­wood. Ker­per is a state Fu­ture Farm­ers of Amer­ica of­fi­cer and par­tic­i­pated in 4-H since

she was 8. She grad­u­ated this spring from Oley Val­ley High School and now at­tends Kutz­town Univer­sity as an English/agri­cul­tural jour­nal­ist ma­jor.

“They needed some­one to raise it so I vol­un­teered,” Ker­per ex­plained.

She tended Mikey for the months lead­ing up to the auc­tion, in­clud­ing wa­ter­ing and feed­ing him and mak­ing sure he was washed and ready to show at the event.

“Pigs are nor­mally con­fined to pens,” Ker­per said as she checked Mikey over a few days be­fore the auc­tion. He nudged against her side, grunt­ing af­fec­tion­ately. “So we take them out into the yard and walk them so they get ex­er­cise.

“Pigs, they are def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent, but they are re­ally smart,” she said, scratch­ing Mikey’s back. “They’re laid back, but they al­ways try to nib­ble. They al­ways want some­thing to eat.”

Kerp­ner was part of a team ef­fort that raised the bar­row for this year’s auc­tion. The an­i­mal was do­nated, as were all feed, ve­teri­nary cer­tifi­cates and pro­cess­ing fees.

“This year we have two feed com­pa­nies help­ing, along with friends of 4-H or fam­ily friends,” Brown said. “It’s kind of a la­bor of love, to be hon­est, be­cause this is the sec­ond year for the pro­gram.”

Brown said the idea for the auc­tion ben­e­fit came from a sim­i­lar pro­gram run by Penn State in Erie County. She said the Berks club plans to raise a bar­row and auc­tion it for char­ity go­ing for­ward.

“There are fam­i­lies out there, peo­ple out there, that need a hand up but might not ask for it,” Brown said. “It’s a good way to sup­port some­one in the Berks County com­mu­nity that might not get help.”

4-H mem­bers vote on each year’s ben­e­fi­ciary. In 2016, they se­lected the fam­ily of Bret Hans­ley, Jr., who was killed in a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent and left five young chil­dren be­hind. Last year’s Ben­e­fit Bar­row raised more than $14,000.

This year, club mem­bers se­lected the Kun­kle fam­ily. Ethan Kun­kle was di­ag­nosed with leukemia in May.

“They’ve been ac­tive in the Berks County com­mu­nity in many ways for many years,” Brown said, with the chil­dren par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 4-H dairy pro­gram, sports and the Grange. One daugh­ter served as the Read­ing Fair Queen.

“Be­cause they are a large fam­ily who have been so ac­tive in the pro­gram, peo­ple wanted to help,” she said.

Con­tri­bu­tions to­ward this year’s Bar­row Auc­tion ben­e­fi­ciary will be ac­cepted in the Berks County 4-H Of­fice, 1238 County Wel­fare Road, Suite 110, Leesport, through Fri­day, Sept. 15.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The Kathy Barry In­sur­ance Agency was the win­ning bid­der at the Bar­row Ben­e­fit held by the Berks County 4-H Swine Club to ben­e­fit the Ethan Kunkel fam­ily. Kathy Barry is pic­tured above with the Ben­e­fit Bar­row pig and mem­bers of the fam­ily.

KOLLEEN LONG - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Fleet­wood res­i­dent Zaren Ker­per, an FFA mem­ber who grad­u­ated from Oley Val­ley High School, raised Mikey the Pig through ef­forts of the Berks County 4-H Swine Club for a Ben­e­fit Bar­row auc­tion. Other com­mu­nity mem­bers and busi­nesses con­trib­uted to­ward costs, in­clud­ing feed and ve­teri­nary fees.

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