4-H pig raises more than $6,000 for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

When Mattea Antrup spent 20 weeks "hanging out" because of an accident that left her in a hip cast, she became familiar with the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. It turned out that her hip wasn't the only thing the 4-H'er was going to make better.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – When 10-year-old Mattea Antrup spent 20 weeks “hanging out” because of an accident that left her in a hip cast, she became very familiar with the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. It turned out that her hip wasn’t the only thing the 4-H’er was going to make better.

During Mattea’s short stay in the Grand Rapids hospital, she took notice of the exceptional children that she temporarily roomed with. Spending seven weeks in a hip cast followed by another seven weeks in a wheelchair and further recuperating time, she quickly developed feelings of sadness for the other children. With her parents by her side during her hospital trips, the 4-H’er wondered why she got to go home after her surgery, and the other children had to stay at the hospital – alone.

“We weren’t there long, but when we were there, she had her eyes open to kids and life experiences that aren’t pleasant. She had many questions about why the kids didn’t go home,” said Dawnell Antrup, Mattea’s mom.

Mattea was for the first time seeing young burn victims and cancer patients.

“She found out about kids who had never even been able to leave the hospital. She didn’t see many of the kids with their parents and realized that those parents had to work to pay for the doctors to be able to fix their children.”

“I wanted the kids to have a great day and smile and not be stressed out,” Mattea said.

It wasn’t so much the pink, glittery hip cast that Mattea was afraid of -- it was the word “surgery.” Mattea’s first step in making the hospital a better place was renaming her hip surgery “Fix it Day” because, as her mom said, the hospital is what fixes the children.

With the thought still bothering her that there were children at the hospital without their parents, Mattea wanted to change that. As a 4-H member, Mattea read books about pigs and showed and sold her pig at the 2012 fair.

“I learned about caring through 4-H, by giving people hope and not letting them down,” Mattea said of her 4-H experience. “Through my experience I knew that I did (4-H) fair and how I received money. I thought that it would be good to donate the money to those that need it.”

Mattea decided that when she was up and walking again, she wanted to sell two hogs at the 2013 fair and give the money from one of them to the parents of hospitalized children. And she knew the perfect name for the pig – Helen DeVos.

Once up and walking, Mattea went door-to-door with her self-created flyer to local businesses in her community to promote Helen DeVos before the fair and to explain that all proceeds from her sale would go to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital to grant wishes.

Come the night of the auction, July 25, Helen entered the ring at 242 pounds. Helen was sold to her first buyer at $10 per pound. Buyer No. 1 chose to donate Helen and put her back in the ring, where she was sold for an additional $10 per pound in round two. Buyer No. 2 then put Helen back into the ring for round three. When buyer No. 3 purchased Helen for another $8 per pound, Helen was removed from the ring and donated by buyer No. 3 to Love INC., a mission organization that feeds families.

Normally, a hog sells for $2 to $3 a pound. Mattea’s 4-H pig maxed out at $28 per pound. Helen raised more than $6,000 for the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

“I think this money will make the kids feel better and happier, and forget about what they have gone through,” Mattea said of her donation.

Oct. 7, Mattea gave her doctors and new lifelong friends at DeVos Children’s Hospital a check for $6,654.96.

“The wishes I think they (children patients) will be getting with this money is, if they live really far and their parents don’t have money to drive back and forth, maybe this money could be a gas card for the parents to come and see them,” she said.

Mattea’s donation will indeed go to patient families in need of gas cards to attend appointments, food vouchers, a burn patient scholarship camp ($500 a child), grants and more. The money will also be used toward a candle-lighting memorial ceremony for children who have passed away.

“My kids are in 4-H because I want them to share and extend what they can give – the 4-H motto, ‘to make the best better,’ is a great quote. She is making the best happen of what happened to her,” her mom said.

By recognizing a problem in the community, Mattea is a 4-H hero and part of a nationwide movement of youth making positive impacts in their community – the 4-H Revolution of Responsibility.

Mattea is a fifth grader at Lakewood Elementary School. She is a passionate soccer player and continues to be involved in Michigan 4-H.

To find a Michigan 4-H club near you, visit www.msue.anr.msu.edu/county.

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