The start of a new school year is upon us. On the local level, we do quite a few feel-good education stories, but kids like Waylon Klitzman, 15, have to do something pretty extraordinary for a …
The start of a new school year is upon us.
On the local level, we do quite a few feel-good education stories, but kids like Waylon Klitzman, 15, have to do something pretty extraordinary for a national outlet like the Washington Post to take notice.
Waylon got an editor's attention by selling a pig for $10,000 at his local 4-H Fair in Wisconsin and donating the money to cancer research.
Waylon's favorite teacher, Kim Katzenmeyer, recently retired after 22 years in education to help raise money for Beat Nb, a nonprofit working to find a cure for neuroblastoma.
Katzenmeyer's niece was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer, just before her fourth birthday.
Waylon, who described himself as "not really that social" in the Post article, had a special connection with Miss K.
“A lot of my teachers, they’ll talk to me, but then they kind of just walk away,” Klitzman said in the article. “She didn’t do that. She just kind of stuck around when I needed help the most.”
Waylon didn't elaborate, but I imagine that he's the kind of kid who shows up, works hard and stays out of trouble. Other teachers may love having him in their class but don't have the time to take a real interest in him because there are other kids who demand all of their attention.
Miss K was different. She made him feel like something worth talking to, someone worth helping.
So he decided to help her.
He started by donating $52 — all the money he had — to Miss K for Beat Nb.
Waylon also planted three acres of pumpkins that will eventually be sold to raise more money for the nonprofit.
He also decided to sell one of the two pigs he had been raising as part of the 4-H Swine Project, which seems to be similar to the 4-H Chick Chain Project that is popular in Walker County. The other would be sold to help offset his expenses throughout the project.
When Waylon arrived at the fair, he was disheartened but undeterred when he learned that one of the pigs hadn't made weight and could not be sold in the auction. If he still wanted to donate to Beat Nb, he would either have to find a private buyer for the second pig or lose all the money his family had invested in the project.
Waylon assured his parents that still wanted to donate and he would figure out the rest later, according to an article in the Wisconsin State Farmer, a weekly farm newspaper.
"He looked at us and we kind of shook our heads," said his mother, Dawn Klitzman. "It's a pretty incredible decision for a kiddo to make."
The Post reported that Waylon's legs shook as he stood at the front of the auction room at the Rock County 4-H Fair in July.
The auctioneer told the crowd that money earned from Roo, who weighed in at a healthy 265 pounds, would be donated to the fight against childhood cancer.
A bidding war quickly commenced between Dan Drozdowicz, president and co-owner of E & D Water Works, and a representative from Chambers and Owen, a wholesale distributor company.
The two came to an agreement. Drozdowicz bought Roo for $11.50 per pound, well above the $3 to $4 per pound price that Waylon could have expected to get under normal circumstances.
Drozdowicz then promptly returned Roo so that the pig could be sold to the other bidder for $10.25 per pound.
Roo was then sold a third time and then a fourth. By the end of the auction, Waylon had raised $10,070.
"What he did was incredible," Katzenmeyer said in the Wisconsin State Farmer article. "He keeps telling his mom, 'I’m not that special. I just wanted to do something to help.' He is so humble and sweet."
Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle's features editor