A first-year 4-H’er is living out his pledge to service.
Tate Waddel will pay it forward by donating the proceeds of his market steer from the Youth Livestock Auction to Blue Mountain Hospital’s Rehabilitation Services Department.
Tate was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and his parents, Wade and Simmie Waddel, said because of the hospital’s growing rehabilitation facility with physical therapists with pediatrics experience, they no longer have to make trips to Bend every two weeks.
According to the Megan Pass, the hospital’s rehabilitation services manager, about 12% of the patients are pediatric patients — under 21 — at any given time. She said the hospital is grateful for this idea and everyone who helped make it happen.
“Our primary goal in Rehab Services is to serve all the patients of Grant County, with a specific focus in the last several years on bringing in rehab therapists that are able to treat the pediatric population,” she said. “These families have so many challenges to overcome, and the best thing we can do is provide the best pediatric physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy in our own community.”
Wade, a deputy with the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, said they want to see the donation to the hospital to benefit other kids and their families.
The owners of Pioneer Feed, Old Hickory, Ace Hardware and Helena Agri-Enterprises each pitched in to pay for Tate’s steer. Additionally, Simmie said, Associated Feed and Supply, a California-based company, donated the feed. She said 100% of the proceeds would go to the hospital.
Simmie said she made sure the funds would be earmarked for pediatric equipment.
She said Tate always brings a calf to the fair so that he can be involved. The idea to get Tate a steer was born out of a conversation she and Wade had about giving back to the hospital.
“He just wants to be a normal kid,” Wade said. “He sees the other kids doing something, and he wants to be out there too.”
4-H members and their animals must pass a series of qualifications. In addition, animals get weighed to ensure they are within the ideal range for their species, making raising an animal to take to the fair a commitment that a 4-H’er has to make throughout the entire year.
With Tate’s disability, Simmie said the work to raise the steer, including feeding, grooming and other needs, is a team effort.
She, Wade and Tate’s siblings, Trinity Hutchison, 20, Riddick Hutchison, 16, and Jerett Waddel, 11, have all pitched in on the chores to take care of the steer.
It’s “not a big deal,” Simmie said. She said the family makes it work. At times, it can be a juggling act, and the other kids have had to sacrifice here and there, she said, “but what family doesn’t?”
Besides, she said, Tate’s perseverance is infectious. She told the Eagle that every evening, without fail, he cannot wait to take his steer Bam Bam out for a walk at dusk.
“We don’t want him to miss out on something that will make him go further in life,” she said. “No matter how many miles we have to drive or how far we have to go.”
Editor's note: In an earlier version of this story the Eagle misspelled 'Waddel."