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Jackson County student auctions grand champion steer for $15,000 (video)

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Oct. 13, 2012 at 5:13 a.m.
Updated Oct. 14, 2012 at 5:14 a.m.


When Kalli Ellis stepped up to the auctioneer's block on Saturday - her grand champion steer, Abraham Lincoln, in tow - she was determined to step down with the highest bid of the day.

The 14-year-old Industrial High School freshman secured $15,000 at the Jackson County Youth Fair Auction for Abe Lincoln, a 1,305-pound gray charolais.

But for Kalli, a three-time Jackson County Youth Fair grand champion, the desire to show well at the auction wasn't egocentric.

She wanted to bring home good news to her mother and biggest fan, Sherri Ellis, that Abraham Lincoln was the best in show.

"My mom wasn't able to be there, but I had all my supporters there with me," Kalli said.

More than two weeks ago, Kalli's mom was trampled by a cow on the family's land and was airlifted to a San Antonio hospital, where she remains in the intensive care unit.

"This is the first time she hasn't been able to be here," Kalli said. "I miss that she wasn't here ... there was a part of me that wanted to do really well for her."

Kalli said she's been showing steers and heifers at livestock auctions since she was 8 years old and won her first grand champion placement in Jackson County in the fourth grade with her steer, Teddy Roosevelt.

"We're kind of superstitious. The last two times I've won, they were named after presidents, so we wanted to have a president's name this year, too," said Kalli, mentioning last year's grand champion steer was named George Washington.

In addition to the success she's experienced in Jackson, Kalli's also secured grand and reserve champion placements for shows in San Antonio and Fort Worth. She has also participated in Beefmasters, as well as the Texas Junior Livestock Association.

Each time Kalli brings home top honors, her mom and the rest of her family is cheering her on.

"We never miss her" events, said Kalli's aunt, Kathy Veldwijk, of Richmond. "I think it's like that for all the kids in Jackson County, not just Kalli. But with the situation with Kalli's mom being out, everyone is stepping up."

Veldwijk said when Jackson County Livestock judges announced Kalli's grand champion win on Wednesday, she took photos to the hospital to show her sister.

"She saw the photos and smiled," Veldwijk said.

Kalli said she plans to visit her mom this weekend so she can share the success of Saturday with her biggest fan.

"I'm really thankful for everyone who has stepped in and helped me," she said. "This is the first year I've won this much money. And I think she'd be really happy for me that I worked so hard."

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