Seven-year-old Westley McKinley, from Hocking County, was diagnosed with a relatively rare disorder called Batten Disease in 2010. Since then, his family has been dealing with the horrors of the disease that is fatal and debilitating — trying to help Westley get the most out of life while he still can. There is no known cure for Batten’s Disease.
The stress of the situation, mounting medical bills and long and regular trips to Cincinnati for treatment have created challenges that are hard for many to imagine, but the family is working to make the best of the terrible situation. Westley’s mother, Tracee, was quoted in the “Logan Daily News:”
“When Westley was still talking, he said he wanted to be a teacher. Westley will never become an actual teacher, but he doesn’t have to because he teaches everyone on a daily basis,” she said. “He teaches how to love unconditionally, be accepting of others and to always be thankful for what you have in life.”
At the Hocking County Fair in September, the community (including the fair board, exhibitors, bidders and others) pulled together to help the McKinley family by auctioning a hog to raise funds to help with the family’s medical expenses.
“I have done the Hocking County Junior Fair sale towards the end of September for many years. These folks never cease to amaze me like so many ‘country folks,’” said Doug Leith, the auctioneer of the sale. “There have been various fundraisers to assist the family. One fundraiser during fair week was selling chances on a processed hog. A drawing was held towards the end of the fair and the winner wanted to help the family further by suggesting he give the hog back to have it auctioned off at the end of the livestock sale.”
The McKinley family was very grateful for the gesture that that was expected to generate a few hundred dollars.
“None of us expected big dollars, but the bidding got to $3,500,” Leith said. “Before I said ‘sold,’ I asked the last bidders if they were willing to pool their money and double the top bid. In short, they did, making the total $7,000! I had to beg them to come up front for a picture. The family was in tears.”
No matter where you live, there is far too much tragedy, but it is the character of the people involved that ultimately defines the outcome of tough situations. Many times over, the character of rural, agricultural America has a proven that, not only do farmers feed the world, they make it a little bit better too.