An incredible scene of generosity, emotion and love took place at a special fundraiser during the Rock Solid Bred Heifer sale Dec. 8 in Swift Current.
Three bred heifers from Bircham Ranch at Piapot, sold for a total of $35,500 at the Rock Solid Bred Heifer sale Dec. 8 in Swift Current.
The money will go towards the Arnal Boys Memorial Bursary, a newly established fund to help provide financial assistance up to $5,000 a year to budding agricultural entrepreneurs.
The Bursary was created as a memorial to the brothers, who were all active and beloved members of their community.
Blake died in an ATV accident in 2008 at the age of 14, while Sean (16) and Lyndon (10) were killed this summer when their tractor rolled in a ditch near their family’s farm at Ravenscrag.
The heifer sale helped give the bursary a huge boost.
It started with a bang as the first animal sold for $10,500 to Emily Olney of Carnduff. Emily’s father Barry grew up with Anne Arnal, the boy’s mother.
Things didn’t slow down after that as Crescent Point Energy purchased the next heifer for $9,000, then immediately turned around and donated it back for re-auction. It was ultimately purchased by Corrie Richardson of Eastend, whose son Lane was a classmate and friend of Sean. In fact, the Richardson children helped with the purchase and the heifer was named BLYS (Bliss) after Blake (B), Lyndon (LY) and Sean (S).
Diamond K Ranch of Maple Creek (Lance and Bryce Weiss), one of the Rock Solid consignors, purchased the final heifer for $8,000.
Anne made a short presentation before the sale, outlining what the bursary is all about for those who might not be familiar with the details.
What followed was extraordinary.
The bids more than doubled (and in some cases almost tripled) what the average heifer went for during the day.
“It was really quite a surprise – it surpassed by several times anything we had hoped for,” said Olivia Arnal, one of the boys’ sisters.
Olivia admitted the scene was so emotional that she had to leave the bidding area.
“I couldn’t watch it – I had to leave,” she stated.
The boy’s family all attended the sale and the Birchams and the buyers were later presented with Arnal Boys Memorial coats.
The generosity didn’t end there however.
Bruce McFadyen auctioned off a series of bird houses that he had constructed and Innovation Credit Union added a donation of $4,000. Personal donations were also collected, including funds from staff at Heartland Livestock Services.
In the end, almost $48,000 was raised during the day.
“It was incredible,” said Olivia.
“We are extremely grateful to anyone who supported the sale in any way – workers, donors, bidders – everyone really who was involved,” she added. “We can’t say enough about how appreciative we are of the support.”
Another unexpected fundraiser took place a week earlier when Ryan Melsted of Wynyard – who doesn’t even know the family – put up a steer at a sale in Kelvington. The steer, purchased by Grasslands of Moose Jaw, brought in $1,676.88 for the bursary.
Rock Solid consignors have agreed to donate a heifer toward the bursary fund at future sales.
“You know, you kind of question yourself about whether or not you’re doing the right thing,” stated Olivia. “But this was the first time for us to see how much support we had for the idea in the agricultural community and it was really overwhelming. It was nice to see people really believe in what we are doing,”
The bursary was created as a way to honour three young, energetic boys and carry on a legacy in their memory.
Although the brothers were involved in a wide variety of activities, they each possessed a special passion for agriculture. The boys also shared an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong willingness to help others.
The bursary is open to individuals between the ages of eight and eighteen years of age. There will be a preference to applicants from the Southwest – using the boundaries of the Chinook School division – but not exclusively limited to candidates from this region. Applicants will be asked to provide a business plan for their entrepreneurial ventures or education including the cost, goals and the overall plan for the endeavor.
There will be up to five thousand dollars in bursaries awarded per year to individuals who meet the criteria. The money could be dispersed to a small number of larger requests or to a large number of smaller ventures. It will all depend on the number and quality of the applications.
“It could include anything from someone looking to get their Class 1 licence or raising rabbits to purchasing an air driller or a cow,” said Olivia.
Originally, the family was hoping to disperse up to $3,000 a year through the bursary fund, but the program has enjoyed so much support that the total was recently pushed up to $5,000.
The interest from money raised for the bursary will be used to fund the program for years to come.
Several other activities are planned in connection with the Arnal Boys Memorial Bursary in the new year, including a fun hockey tournament and a fun skeet shooting tournament.
A animal is also being put up for sale at a Davidson Gelbvieh bull sale in Ponteix.