(Porter County, IN) - A Wanatah area woman lost her battle with cancer, but she lives on in the hearts of a community shelling out a world record price for her 10-year-old son's hog.
What was thought to be the sale price of $102,000 was reached during the livestock auction at the Porter County fair last month, but the amount given for the hog later went up substantially.
There was no competitive bidding.
The money was in the form of donations from hundreds of people wanting to contribute to the charitable cause.
In response to demand, pledges started being accepted from the public again until the final sale price in the coming days reached $126,000.
"It was a world record price for a gilt," said Jonathan Kraft, a professional auctioneer and friend of the family who helped orchestrate the fundraising effort.
Typically, farm animals sold during fairs wind up in butcher shops. In this case, hundreds of financial contributors collectively decided to have the pig returned to the hobby farm of the surviving family members near Wanatah.
“It was a pretty awesome experience. He’ll get to breed it and have some little pigs next spring,” Kraft said.
Kraft said the money goes into a scholarship fund to help put Hudson and her other son, Brooks, 8, through college.
“Everyone in the community loved her. She did not, not have someone that wasn’t a friend,” Kraft said.
Ashlee Duttlinger, 39, waged a five-year battle with colon cancer. Her final six weeks were spent at home under hospice care. Yet, she painstakingly held on just long enough to watch Hudson show his reserve grand champion pig and learn about the outpouring of support during the auction.
Duttlinger made it to the fairgrounds with help from members of her family and other loved ones. But unfortunately, she passed away on July 31 or less than 24 hours after the fair was over.
“She said the whole time I just want to make it to the fair. I’m going to see Hudson show again. If that doesn’t speak to the human will, I don’t know what does,” said Haleigh Schoon, 33, of Lafayette.
Schoon said her best friend was always the first to reach out to people needing help and the last to leave no matter the cause. She believes the response to the fundraiser was from her many acts of selflessness.
“She legitimately was just the most generous spirit you ever met. It’s the perfect illustration of people just wanting to give her what she’s always given them,” Schoon said.
"Even in her final days, she was still fighting and wanting to help out," Kraft said.
According to Kraft, a typical hog sells at auction for six to seven dollars a pound, but this one came to $420 a pound. He said a gilt's previous world record price was $95,000 in Missouri.
Schoon feels the frenzy of giving was also a way for the community to show there was no need for Duttlinger to worry about her children or husband, Eric.
"I think it was almost in a bigger way a gesture for Ashlee so she could see that these guys are loved. We're going to make sure they're o.k. after you're gone," Schoon said.
Schoon and Duttlinger met while showing livestock in the Porter County 4-H program and, in recent years, remained in close touch with each other.
She recalled visiting Duttlinger in the spring when she was hooked up to machines in a hospital intensive care unit.
Schoon also helped get her to the fairgrounds to see her son with his hog in the show arena one final time.
“There just isn’t enough words in the world to describe how much I loved her and how wonderful she was. She never wanted to be the center of attention and never wanted people to worry about her. Her people came first,” Schoon said.