SOAPBOX A night for Emma and Marion County

I suppose during a county fair many stories can emerge, but maybe none quite as touching as the Emma Rath story.

Marion County has a number of outstanding 4-H projects and clubs. One of our best is the Goessel Goal Getters dairy-goat project. Led by Jennifer Stultz, this is a particularly close-knit club, which has endured its share of tragedy.

Just over a year ago, Lucinda Goosen, a longtime club member and leader, was killed in an automobile accident. Then in April, Emma Rath, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Goessel Elementary School and a third-year 4-H member, and her mother were killed in an automobile accident.

By all accounts, Emma’s love in the goat project was the market goat. Emma and her mother purchased a market goat after a goat field day for youth near Lecompton. She named this Nubian wether “Butterscotch.”

The trip home after that auction was interesting to say the least because the goat was transported in the back of the family station wagon. In the months that followed, Emma was not nearly as concerned about competing as she was having fun.

In response to this tragic car accident, the members of the Goessel Goat Club pitched in to help finish raising Emma’s market goat so her twin brother could exhibit him at the fair. During the goat show, we wanted to remember Emma, and decided the most fitting would be having a goat race. Remember, Emma was about having fun. I have never seen a goat race before, but this was something Emma would have enjoyed.

Now, for the rest of the story. As another way to honor Emma, the 4-H club wanted to include Emma’s goat in the premium sale, with all proceeds to going to the Emma Rath Memorial Scholarship Fund. When it was time for Emma’s goat to be sold, her story was told. All who know me would agree that I am long-winded, but the response during and after the sale has left me speechless.

More than $2,400 was donated to the scholarship fund. The list of donors is included in this week’s ad thanking all of our premium sale buyers.

Roger Hiebert auctioned the sale that night, and I can’t think of a better way to say it than he did at that moment: “This is one of those times when we are proud to call Marion County home.”

I guess this wasn’t just Emma’s night. This was a night for all of Marion County.

Rickey Roberts is the K-State extension agent for Marion County.

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