Revelations: Reporter grateful pig prayer answered
Journalism comes with a lot of hidden perks.
We get invited to cover big events and crazy-fun assignments. We interview celebrities, and we occasionally get to jump long lines, for example.
But I always say that one of best perks of this business is that on occasion we have the opportunity to watch our work unintentionally play a small role in helping the community.
If you recall, about a week ago, I wrote about 9-year-old Madison Hudson and her Jackson County Youth Fair hog, Lexie "The Diva."
I met Madison at the Brackenridge Main Event Center, and I remember it was Wednesday, the day the livestock was being weighed-in and judged.
As I searched around the Main Event Center for a cute feature story to write, I was informed a little girl's pig died earlier in the day and she would not be able to compete in her first livestock auction.
Madison, I was told, was emotionally distraught about her loss. And initially, some of the fair volunteers were hesitant to introduce me to her.
I knew the "Pig dies at fair" story wasn't exactly the "cute feature" I envisioned finding at the event, but I felt strongly I should meet Madison, and hear the story of poor Lexie.
I walked around the arena and finally located Madison's mom, Jackie, and asked her if she'd mind if we chatted about the pig.
I assured her I didn't want to make a spectacle of their tragedy, or upset Madison any more than she already was.
Still crying, Jackie said, "Yeah, I guess that would be OK."
As the interview commenced, and Jackie and Madison, and Madison's brother, Blake, told me about their relationship with the hog, I found myself quietly hurting for the family.
Since May, they'd been raising their "Diva." They invested time and money in her and devoted long evenings to raising a grand champion hopeful.
The family made it all the way to the fair that morning, weighed in Lexie at 271 pounds, then watched as their prize pig died in her pen. Apparently, Lexie was thirsty or hungry and she reared up in the cage, which somehow broke her neck and back.
She convulsed for a few moments, then died in front of them. Jackie, Madison and Blake were distraught.
"It just feels like a lot of wasted time," Jackie told me, wiping tears from her face. "You get so close to them, they're just like pets because you have them for so long."
My heart genuinely sank as I listened to their story. I knew Lexie's death, and the family's inability to auction her off Saturday at the fair, would mean they'd have to eat the expenses of a profitless project. And Madison would have to start over the next year.
Halfway through the interview, her brother, Blake, 12, turned to me and said that he intended to share any of the earnings he made at the auction with his little sister.
"Lexie was the better pig," he said, referencing his show pig, Charlotte. "She can have some of my money if she wants some."
I remember thinking how sweet his big-brother gesture was and thought to myself, "Man, my brother never would have done this for me when we were kids!"
I thanked the family for allowing me to tell their story, and when I left, I offered a Madison some encouragement: "Don't worry, hon, this will be one of those funny stories you tell your kids one day. . You'll do better next year."
Later, as I was writing the article at the office, I said a small prayer on Madison's behalf and asked God if he could use my non-cute feature story to maybe, just maybe, inspire someone to donate money to the family.
A few days later, I got an email in my inbox. The subject line read, "Thank you so much!"
Inside was a short letter from Jackie that a few people in the community read my article, and donated nearly $2,000 to help recover the loss of their dead hog.
Jackie also attached a letter in her follow up email, and was able to read for myself the words of a generous community:
"We're saddened to hear of the loss of your hog, Lexie. We know that you worked very hard getting her ready for the show. After reading the article in the newspaper about you, a group of individuals contacted us wanting to help you out with your expenses and make it easier for you to come back next year with a new project ."
The group contributed $1,190. And Madison is now thrilled to come back stronger next year.
Please know I certainly do not take responsibility for the kind and generous monetary donations offered on Madison's behalf.
But it's special for me, as a journalist, that I got to be a small part of telling a story that helped connect the dots from tragedy to recovery for the Hudson family. And it's great to see God answer small prayers, even when they're said in passing.
It's one of the many reasons why I love my job.
And, like I said, it's definitely one of the better perks.
Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org