Yoakum teen shows reserve champion steer at Houston Livestock Show
April 3, 2012 at midnight
Updated April 2, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
Some girls get cars for their 16th birthdays, while others opt for parties. One Yoakum girl went a slightly different route.
Her big gift came in the form of a win at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Emily Kelley won reserve grand champion with her Charolais steer, Monster, and sold him for $250,000 March 17. The next day, she turned 16.
"It was the most perfect sweet 16 present ever," she said with a laugh. "I couldn't have asked for a better gift."
The big-time win came as a surprise to Emily, who had competed at the Houston show since age 8. Although she'd made the sale before, she never won grand or reserve titles.
"When they chose me as reserve overall, I was shaking," she said, explaining she didn't realize at the time she was being broadcast on Reliant Stadium's massive overhead screen. "I didn't really expect it to happen."
It's rare for grand and reserve to both come from the same breed, she said, which added to her surprise.
Emily's 11-year-old brother and sister, John Thomas and Laurel Kelley, also made the sale.
While Emily said she always put work into the animals she raised, she admitted the family tried something different this year with the dark gray steer.
"We usually try to give them more feminine names because we're sweet on them," she said. "They're our pets. But my dad decided he needed a more aggressive name, so we called him Monster."
Even after the fact, Emily said $250,000 was a difficult amount to wrap her mind around. She said it was difficult to imagine anyone paying so much for an animal, let alone an animal she raised.
And, although she only keeps $40,000 of those winnings - the rest goes back to the Houston show for scholarships and the like - she said she hopes to use her money to give back to the Crossroads.
Some will go toward her college fund, she said, while she also plans to donate some to Court Appointed Special Advocates.
"I feel like I should do it," she said. "I've always tried to look for ways to help other people, and they probably need the money more than I do."
Looking ahead, Emily said she will continue competing for the next two years she's eligible.
That's one of the bonuses to winning reserve, she said. While she can compete again next year, the grand champion can't.
But still, she said, she can't help but miss Monster.
"It still tugs at my heart a little bit to see his pen empty," Emily said. "I was sad to see him go. But I know he's being taken care of, and it'll all work out."