WATCH: Farm community rallies for Emma Frodl and her goat
ELKHORN—Emma Frodl usually gets sick after chemotherapy, but she didn't get sick right away last week, so she was able to take her goat Klaus to the Fur & Feather Sale at the Walworth County Fair.
The 14-year-old Sharon 4-H member was wearing a mask to ward off illness as she stood on the raised platform, holding Klaus. The chemo lowers her immunity, so she often gets a fever afterward, which means a trip back to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.
As the bidding began, nearly everyone present knew what was going to happen. Emma didn't. Neither did her parents, dairy farmers Inga and Joshua Frodl.
Back up a minute: It was May or June when Emma began complaining of pain in her back and abdomen. She hurt so much that she didn't go to Fourth of July fireworks. That was not like her, her mother said, so they took her to be checked out. That's when the large growths in her abdomen were discovered.
“It was scary. You hear the word cancer, and you think the worst, of course,” her mother said.
The cancer is called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
“It's a type of lymphoma that multiplies really fast, and chemotherapy seems to kill it off pretty well. Her prognosis is pretty good,” her mother said.
Back to the auction at the Charles H. Wiswell Center: The bids kept going up and up. Auctioneer Tom Kleist, who knew what was to come, nevertheless got more and more excited, and so did the crowd in the stands. Bids finally reached “FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!” as Kleist put it.
Emma stood there, petting her goat.
“I didn't believe what was happening, I just started crying. It felt wonderful that somebody would do something like that,” Emma said in a phone interview from Children's Hospital, where she was dealing with another fever.
LD's BBQ of East Troy later added $1,000, and a 4-H'er donated some of her own auction money, so the final total was $6,185, Inga Frodl said.
The money will pay some medical bills, but the plan is to save most of it for college or whatever Emma needs when she goes out on her own, Inga Frodl said.
Emma wants to be a large-animal veterinarian.
“I would say that I'm blessed that they are in my life now and that it was a very generous thing they did, to help someone like me,” Frodl said. “I don't even know who they are.”
Emma asked that those who contributed to let her know.
“There's a lot of people to thank,” she said.
One of them she does know about is Jamie Smith of Elkhorn, who raises goats with his family. They were involved in organizing the effort.
“It just snowballed, or more of a blizzard, you could say,” Smith said.
Thirty-seven people, most or all from the local farming community, donated, Smith said.
“There were people I don't even know. ... No one wants recognition for it,” Smith said.
The effort started in the goat barn and then spread to the other animal barns.
“It's a very big range of people, but everybody was from the fair. ... It got a lot bigger than I ever expected,” Smith said. “The amount of money didn't matter. They just gave what they could.”
Smith went to high school with Emma's father, and his daughter's wether was next to Jamie's in the barn and helped take care of Klaus while Emma was in treatment, so Emma's situation was well known, he said.
People admired Emma's heart and dedication to come out of treatment and go to the fair to show her animal, Smith said.
“People were just handing me money, and I kept taking it. In the farming community, anything that happens—cows are out, or someone's barn burns—trucks and trailers are lining up. People are there to help. That's just the way it seems,” Smith said.
Goats sold at the fair normally are butchered for a restaurant or whoever buys them, but because so many people donated, the family didn't know who should get Klaus, Inga said.
So Klaus went home with the family.
“He's living with us, probably forever,” Inga said.
Note: Preliminary numbers show the fur & feather sale raised $57,450 this year, which beats last year's $56,875. All proceeds go to the 4-H and FFA exhibitors and to scholarships.