COFFEYVILLE, KANS. (August 16, 2019) – The junior market livestock sale wrapped up at the Inter-State Fair and Rodeo in Coffeyville on August 16.
Grand champion market steer was shown by Keaton Gilman of Miami, Okla. and sold for $2,100. The grand champion market barrow was shown by Deziree Lee, Coffeyville, and brought $1,600.
The grand champion lamb was shown by Andrea Blum, Copan, Okla., and brought $900. Grand champion market meat goat was shown by Izzy Lewis, Bartlesville, Okla., and sold for $1,100.
New this year to the sale is market broilers, and Halle Hayes, Coffeyville, Kan. was grand champion. Her pen of three brought $750.
Even though his animals didn’t make the sale, Lex Ward finished a satisfying showing career.
The Caney, Kan. youth, who is nineteen years old, has shown for the past eleven years.
Showing livestock is a passion for him, and a way for him to live life like everybody else around him.
Ward is one of about an estimated 150 people in the world who have Xia-Gibbs Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes low muscle tone, poor coordination, and intellectual disabilities.
But for Lex, being around animals, county fairs and his friends makes him as normal as anybody else.
This year, he showed two goats at the Inter-State Fair: Andy and Thelma Lou.
Showing livestock has given him a chance to learn in a fun setting, said his mom, Sharon Ward. “He’s gained a lot of muscle strength, and a little bit of discipline,” she said. “He doesn’t have a very long attention span, but it’s helped with that.”
It’s also gained him a lot of friends. People gravitate to Lex and his big heart, and he finds friends easily.
When he was younger, Sharon was concerned about him at the fair if he didn’t stay close to her. “I would worry a lot if he wasn’t right there with me, because he definitely needed the supervision,” she said. But the livestock people embraced Lex and took him in as one of their own. “They’d call me and say, ‘Lex is with me, if that’s ok,’” Sharon said. “They’d take him places and let him help them.”
When Lex was a toddler, Van and Sharon didn’t have an answer for what was wrong with their son. They had genetic testing done, but there was no diagnosis.
Two years ago, when Lex was seventeen, a doctor in Tulsa suggested that Lex undergo the genetic testing again, because of advances in science.
So they did. Xia-Gibbs Syndrome had just been discovered in 2014, and this time, there was a diagnosis for Lex. It was a relief. “He went through the school system,” Sharon said, “and we tried to get him enrolled in after-school programs, but when you enroll a child, they want to know the diagnosis. We knew nothing.” Without a diagnosis, she and Van had no answers. “We just accepted that it’s Lex and we’ll deal with whatever, day to day.”
Some people who have the Xia-Gibbs Syndrome aren’t able to walk or talk, and Lex can do both. “We’re very blessed,” Sharon said. “When it comes to church and 4-H and school, he’s done pretty much anything he’s wanted to do.”
At the Inter-State Fair, he entered a German chocolate cake that sold for $200 at the bake sale. He also had an art exhibit that won grand champion: a floral arrangement made of pinecones, and a reserve champion item, a tin man made out of tin cans.
Lex also has good friends who help him. A neighbor who is good at woodworking patiently worked with him on a cedar coffee table that he entered at the fair, and during the goat shows, when he is required to brace his animal, which is difficult for him to do, 4-H friends are allowed to be in the show ring with him to help.
Lex also has shown at the Montgomery County 4-H Fair in Independence and the Cherryvale Youth Fair. This year, he’ll take his goats to show at the Kansas State Fair and the Kansas Junior Livestock Show.
He has an older brother and sister-in-law, Justin and Danielle.
Next year’s 112th annual Inter-State Fair is tentatively set for August 10-15. More information can be found on the website at www.FairandRodeo.com or by calling the Coffeyville Chamber of Commerce at 620-251.2550.
At this year’s sale, 24 steers, 31 hogs, 25 sheep, 20 goats and two pens of market broilers were auctioned.
Sponsor for the Junior Market Livestock Sale is Coffeyville Feed.