Thirteen-year-old Heidi Braun normally holds a fundraiser each year for the pediatric cancer department where she has been a patient for the last six years.
“They consisted of something usually handmade by me and my family and then we rented out a space and went from there,” Heidi said of her previous fundraising efforts.
“We knew that most of the chemo drugs are really expensive, and there has to be money coming from somewhere, and they also need to do lots of research.”
Unable to hold a fundraiser this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Heidi decided she would sell her own calf and donate the proceeds instead.
“We kind of came up with it together and it was all very short notice,” said Heidi’s dad, Mark.
“I think we contacted (the auction mart) on Tuesday, and Winnipeg Livestock put something together very quickly and they did a wonderful job.”
But after Heidi’s calf was sold, something unusual happened.
Instead of being walked out of the ring, buyers chose to donate the calf right back so it could be sold again. And again, and again.
“It’s incredible and everybody was shaking, you know, trying not to be in tears,” said Scott Anderson, manager of Winnipeg Livestock Sales Ltd.
By the time the dust settled, Heidi’s calf had sold a whopping eleven times, raking in more than $40,000 within roughly 15 minutes.
“It was actually amazing because a lot of people were arguing over who was going to get a chance to support the most,” Anderson said.
“Everybody was willing to contribute and then just pass it on and let the next person contribute as well.”
Heidi’s dad says the support was overwhelming.
“The kids are growing and they have decisions to make and I think they’re on the right track and we’re incredibly proud of our children and the choice they have made to help out in that way,” Mark said.
“We’re very, very thankful to all the buyers that came out and supported.”
Even after Heidi’s calf sold for the final time, the money continued to flow.
Another rancher decided to donate 10 per cent of the sale of his animals to the cause, while an online fundraiser in Heidi’s name – which is ongoing – had raised close to $1,000 as of Friday evening.
“(It was) very amazing. It’s kind of crazy,” Heidi said of taking her calf to auction. “I didn’t think it would sell eleven times.”
Heidi’s dedication to raising money may not be over. With Friday’s success, she expects she’ll be bringing another animal to auction soon.