Bend 4-H pig's hefty fair price goes to worthy cause

Cooper Garus gave $26,400 to fight Rett syndrome

Bend 4H student sells pig donates money to charity

BEND, Ore. - Lots of special things happen at the Deschutes County Fair, and the 100th edition, which ended a week ago, has another grand example, involving a big pig named Guss, the hefty price he fetched at auction - and what a young Bend 4-Her did with all that money, following in his sister's footsteps.

After the sale of their 264-pound Yorkshire cross pig, Guss, at the fair, brother and sister Cooper and Ava Garus have one pig left, a 205-pounder named Russ. Fun fact: Guss was named after their great-grandfather and Russ after their grandfather.

It’s no surprise their love of raising pigs went down the family tree, but to Cooper and Ava, it’s more than just about showmanship.

Cooper, a 10-year-old 4-H student from Bend, sold Guss at $100 a pound ,which totaled $26,400 at the Deschutes County Fair. He decided to donate all of the money to charity. His sister, Ava, did the same with the $40,000 she raised from selling her pig two years ago. 

Their charity of choice was the Rett Syndrome Research Trust, in honor of their cousin, Marlowe Ramirez, who has Rett syndrome. Rett syndrome is a rare genetic disorder which mainly affects girls. Marlowe, 7, communicates with a retina display computer and uses a feeding tube.

Cooper said he noticed a big difference between the first few times he visited Marlowe as a baby in Utah and a few years later, when she was older. His mother, April Garus, spent some time caring for Marlowe.

They liken Rett syndrome to “being trapped inside your body.”

“It took a couple years for [Marlowe’s parents] to figure out what she has because it’s such a rare neurological disorder,” Garus said Sunday.

The  family said they hope the money they raised will take medical research one step closer toward finding a cure for Rett syndrome. 

Aside from raising money for a charity, April Garus said the 4-H programs helped her children develop life skills, such as being a part of a business, networking and responsibility. She expressed her gratitude for the 16 buyers’ generosity and the overwhelming support from their community.

“I’m thinking that if everyone could have that one opportunity, what a big difference they could make,” she said. 

Garus hopes more people will become aware of how 4-H programs can help enrich children’s lives and their communities. The Garus family is also hoping to sell Russ and donate the proceeds to the Rett Syndrome Research Trust as well. 

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