by Pat Malin
Emily Richards and Morgan Smithling, junior members of the New York Brown Swiss Association and daughters of dairy farmers from tiny rural communities in western New York, could not attend this year’s New York State Dairy Carousel, however, their names were on everyone’s lips. Dozens of fellow farmers and their families viewed the girls’ photos and expressed concern for their well-being.
Emily Richards is a 17-year-old from Silver Springs (Perry) in Wyoming County and Morgan Smithling is an 11-year-old from Seneca Castle. They live about 60 miles from each other. Up until a few months ago, the two girls might never have crossed paths other than a nodding acquaintance in the show ring.
Now they are no longer strangers, but roommates when they go for chemotherapy at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. In January, just weeks apart, each girl was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer that afflicts children.
“They have a lot in common,” pointed out Kerri Bartlett, Morgan’s aunt. “It’s a strange coincidence that they both were diagnosed in January, but it’s also a blessing to see how the agricultural businesses have rallied around both girls.”
“It’s a life-altering experience,” said Emily’s mother, Mary Richards, who is on extended leave from her job as a nurse practitioner. “We’re taking it one day at a time; sometimes one minute at a time.”
Not surprisingly, the families’ medical bills have piled up and not all aspects of treatment are covered by insurance, so the Brown Swiss Association jumped in. The members are providing financial assistance, as well as heartfelt support.
Jeff True and Jamie Flint of Perry formed the Friends of Emily Richards Syndicate and consigned a 2-year-old Holstein calf to the Wyoming County Holstein Club to sell at the Carousel on Saturday night, April 13.
“I’ve known Emily’s dad for a long time,” said True. “Everybody knows everybody else in Wyoming County and the Richardses live only about four miles from me.” Thanks to the hometown spirit, the fundraising efforts for Emily and Morgan started prior to the Carousel and have spread beyond the Carousel.
“We’ve been getting anywhere from $1 to $500 in donations,” noted True. “People have been very generous. We’ve already raised $4,500 today (Friday) and our goal is $5,000-$6,000. If we top that, it will be very exciting.”
The Emily Richards Syndicate donated 2-year-old “Rip,” whose dam, Picston Shottle is from Pinehurst Royal Rosa, the Holstein breed’s first 14th-generation excellent. The Syndicate planned to buy back Rip at the market price during the sale and give the proceeds to the Holstein Club.
Donations for Emily Richards can be made out to the Wyoming County Holstein Club, c/o Bill Zuber, 1046 Wyoming Road, Wyoming, NY 14591.
A calf for a cause
A 5-week old brown Swiss calf named “Adrianna” huddled in the hay at the other end of the calf barn on the cold, rainy afternoon of April 12 at the State Fairgrounds. Weeks ago, Emily and Morgan teamed up to give the newborn her name.
The calf was donated by Iris Brook Brown Swiss Farm of Tully, NY, on behalf of Morgan Smithling.
Morgan lives on Blue Heaven Farm in Seneca Castle, halfway between Canandaigua and Geneva, and is a sixth-grader at Marcus Whitman Central School. Her family milks just 25 brown Swiss. Her father, Kevin, has an excavating business and her mother, Doreen, is a manager at a family-owned jewelry store.
In addition, Morgan’s family and friends prepared gift baskets for a silent auction on Friday evening. Twenty exhibitors donated baskets for the Calf for a Cause auction, said Teri Martin of Gouverneur, president of the New York Brown Swiss Association. Bartlett said the silent auction alone raised $2,800.
Elite Dairy and Tucker Johnson (Cedar Lane Farm) purchased Adrianna from Iris Brook Brown Swiss farm of Tully, NY, and then donated it back. Jason Demay, Empire Brown Swiss, donated 10 percent of the sale of his calf to the girls and auctioneer Dave Rama waived his commission.
The two calves generated $2,000 for the girls’ medical funds, according to Kerri Bartlett.
Donations can be sent to the Morgan Smithling Care Fund, P.O. Box 99, Seneca Castle, NY 14547
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