by Kara Lynn Dunn
An invited guest at the 2014 Belleville Henderson FFA Annual Awards Banquet in Belleville, NY, New York State Dairy Princess Casey Porter offered a moving presentation that spoke about the impact of the Christian, agricultural and local communities on her life following the July 30, 2013 accident in which her dad was run over by a cattle truck.
“I was getting ready to leave for the St. Lawrence County Fair to practice my dairy judging skills when my mom phoned to say my father had been in a terrible accident,” Casey told the FFA students, their parents and families, and community members in the southern Jefferson County farming community.
Greg Porter was airlifted from the family’s Porterdale Farms in Adams Center, NY, to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.
“If my mom had waited another 15 minutes to call me, I would have learned about my dad on Facebook. The first lesson I learned that day was how incredibly fast word can travel and how important it is to be careful about what we say and how we say it,” Casey said.
“When I reached the ER and was able to see my dad, he spoke three words to me that are the most selfless words I had ever heard anyone say. There he was — a broken man from his collarbone to 16 ribs broken in 22 places, both hips damaged, and a crushed pelvis; he said, ‘Life goes on’ and told my mom to make sure someone helped me take my heifer to State Fair,” said Casey. “It was a miracle that he was alive and he was thinking about me. He is an inspiration to me.”
Casey went on to talk about the three types of communities that supported her family during Greg’s recovery.
“We received incredible community support; first, from our Christian community and our church. I had heard the pastor say to ‘lean on God’ many times, but I really grew in my faith when I started leaning on God after my dad was hurt. Without God, we would not have been able to handle it,” she said.
Casey said the rural community rallied behind them. The family would come home after visiting the hospital to find food and gifts left at their house.
“The third community that really impacted us was the agricultural community. I was supposed to attend the Cornell Pro-Dairy Junior Dairy Leaders graduation at Empire Farm Days just a week after the accident but I did not feel I could go. My dad, who had said those words ‘life goes on,’ and my family told me ‘you need to go’ and it was the best thing,” said Casey.
“That time with friends from FFA and 4-H and the time at Empire Farm Days that I was not thinking every minute about the accident situation started a healing process,” she explained.
“So, because of all the support that my family received from the organizations and communities that we tried and joined, my advice is to get involved. You may meet your best friend in FFA like I did, and the FFA experiences with prepared public speaking and job interviews will be helpful to you the rest of your life. Try something new. You will enjoy great experiences,” Casey encouraged the audience.
Casey became the 51st New York State Dairy Princess in February 2014. Just a little over six months from his accident, Greg Porter escorted his daughter to her crown at that pageant.
Casey offered a special thanks to the Burger family of Belleville for their help with her Dairy Princess duties and thanked the Belleville Henderson FFA for inviting her to share her story at their banquet. The group presented her with a gift basket. More than 200 people attended the event.
Casey is a fourth-generation farmer at Porterdale Farms and the daughter of Greg and Lisa Porter. Her great-grandparents Glenn and Ruth Porter established the farm in 1938 with 35 cows. Her grandparents Dave and Judy Porter helped the farm to grow and today it is operated by Casey’s parents Greg and Lisa and his cousin Stephen and his wife Angela. The dairy herd numbers 1,900 cows; the family farms 5,000 acres.
Casey will continue her reign as State Dairy Princess into early 2015.
“At the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, we consider the Dairy Princesses an extension of our Communications department. Young ladies, such as Casey, play an extremely important role in our programming. They extend our messaging to communities throughout New York State by answering questions from families about how milk is produced, visiting local schools to speak to children about dairy, and helping to establish Fuel Up to Play 60 teams in their school districts,” says ADADC Director of Communications Beth Meyer. “As New York State Dairy Princess, Casey and her court play an important leadership role with these young promoters.”
Casey can be reached for appearances through Dawn Houppert at the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council (ADADC) at 315-472-9143.
NYS Dairy Princess offers heartfelt encouragement to “get involved”
by Kara Lynn Dunn