Prize pig worth $20,000 to charity

Amy, Holly, Sarah and Tag Gomez are shown at this years Southeastern Youth Fair. Holly’s pig, Hank, sold for nearly $20,000 which will go to a local charity. [Submitted]

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Posted March 25, 2021 | By Brendan Farrell, Ocala Gazette

Hank the pig set a Southeastern Youth Fair record after selling for near $20,000

Amy, Holly, Sarah and Tag Gomez are shown at this years Southeastern Youth Fair. Holly’s pig, Hank, sold for nearly $20,000 which will go to a local charity. [Submitted]

When Holly Gomez pledged the proceeds from the sale of her pig, Hank, to a local charity, she had no idea the pig would sell for nearly $20,000, setting a record for the most expensive pig sold at the Southeastern Youth Fair.

Holly, 14, a student at Fort King Middle School, was raising Hank as a project for the fair through the school’s FFA club. One morning, she and her father were talking about Hank, and he brought up the idea of donating the proceeds to charity. Holly agreed. 

Holly, an avid volleyball player, said her sister previously volunteered for Bryan’s All-Stars Challenge Sports, a non-profit organization run by Bryan Lemily that helps developmentally disabled people play sports. 

“I just think it’s a great place to give back to,” Holly said. “I mean, they’re really nice, and they just kind of needed some more money. And I knew that I could help, so I decided to help out.”

Touched by Holly’s gesture, Lemily would later be flabbergasted by the outpouring of support.

“It’s life-changing for our organization. Our annual budget is about $20,000,” Lemily said. “This really means a lot to all of us. For her to have the thought of helping others is wonderful.”

Lemily formed the non-profit group about eight years ago, but its roots date back to 2005. Lemily took his son, Kyle – who has Down syndrome – to play T-ball for exercise.

The group played T-ball a few months out of the year, but that was all.

“They wanted more. So, the parents started adding more activities,” he said.

Eventually, they added basketball and then bowling. Today, Bryan’s All-Stars operates year-round and serves more than 50 members. There is no fee to participate. The operation is funded by sponsors and donations.

“They just love to come and play. They love having something to do and being around other people,” Lemily said of the participants.

The pandemic suspended much of the program for months, but they recently started playing kickball to limit contact.

As the fair started, Amy Gomez, Holly’s mom, thought it would be great if Hank sold for more than $5,000. But by the day before the auction, they already had $9,000 pledged.

Lemily said many of his usual sponsors contributed, but the story spread.

On auction day, buoyed by that story, the donations continued. 

“People were coming up giving $50, $200, $500,” Lemily said.

The donations kept coming even while the pig was in the ring. All told, nearly 50 donors pitched in.

“It was crazy,” Holly said. “Like, having all of them around me whenever it was getting sold and the crowd cheering for me and all the people, it was very surreal.”

When the hammer fell, Hank sold for $68 per pound. With the pig tipping the scales at more than 280 pounds, the final total topped $19,000. 

Most pigs sell for between $4 and $8 per pound. 

“From what we were told from the youth fair office, this was the highest dollar amount that a swine has ever sold for at the Youth Fair for an organization for a donated hog,” Amy Gomez said. “So, it was a pretty big deal because we did not expect it to go that high.”

In 2006, a pig from the Hillcrest School FFA sold for $65 a pound.

“Honestly, for the community, especially during COVID, it really made me proud to live in Marion County, I’ll tell you that,” she said. “It was amazing, the people that were very willing to donate.”

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