The 4-H pledge reads, “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”
On Friday, Dalton Bennett hit all those marks.
The event was the Rock County 4-H Fair meat animal sale. Friday morning, Dalton, 11, told his dad, Charlie Bennett, that he wanted to donate half of the money from the sale of his pig to the family of his friend Brock Scarpetta, who has a rare neurological disorder.
“You know, when you’re a parent, you hope you’re raising your kid right,” the elder Bennett said. “After he asked me if it would be all right (to donate the money), I had to walk around a little bit to get a hold of myself.”
After Dalton told his twin brother, Logan, what he planned to do, Logan decided to join him. Both boys are members of Turtle 4-H but live just south of the border in Winnebago County, Illinois.
Both boys were committed to their projects and worked hard on them. For them, sharing the money was kind of like a grown-up giving away a family heirloom. The significance went when far beyond the money, and that’s what so moved their dad.
Brock has Batten disease, a rare neurological condition. It starts in young children, and some of the first signs include vision loss and seizures. From there, it progresses to loss of speech and motor control, and later symptoms include dementia, according to the National Institute of Neurlogial Disorders and Stroke.
Brock’s parents, Brad and Chris Scarpetta, are pursuing an alternative gene therapy that has helped other children. It’s cost is close to $2 million, and insurance won’t pay for it.
Dalton and Logan know Brock from school.
Charlie Bennett called Chris Scarpetta to make sure the donation was OK, and when she gave them the OK, the Bennett’s went to work.
They talked to swine Superintendent Mark Gunn and arranged for an announcement of the fundraiser before the sale.
Meanwhile, Brock’s mom, Chris, drove him to the fair.
Dalton held Brock’s hand while Logan held up a sign announcing what people were bidding on: a crossbred barrow named Ricky weighing in at 272 pounds or a crossbred named Wilson weighing 283.
With the sale of Logan’s animal, Bennett thinks the boys will have raised about $2,500 for the Scarpettas.
The Bennett boys’ goodness was contagious.
Later in the show, Sydnie Ochs, 14, of Harmony 4-H decided to donated half of the money she raised from selling her animal.
Chris Scarpetta was surprised and touched by the gesture. The Bennets live down the road from her family.
“Oh my gosh, they are so kind-hearted,” Scarpetta said.
Brock’s sisters were in 4-H, but Brock was diagnosed right before he was eligible to enter Cloverbuds,
How is Brock doing?
“He’s declining,” Scarpetta said. “He’s now legally blind, and his motor skills are failing.”
The gene therapy won’t cure the losses Brock has already suffered, but it could halt the symptoms, Scarpetta said.
They’ve raised more than $30,000, but they have a long way to go.
“Time is not our friend,” Scarpetta said. “The longer it takes us to raise the money, the more decline we’ll see.”