In the midst of tragedy, lifelines sometimes come in unexpected ways.
One of those arrived for the grieving Hodak family at the Clackamas County Junior Livestock Auction Saturday, when a lamb owned by first-year 4-H member Kailynn Hodak, 11, sold for more than 10 times its normal asking price thanks to overwhelming support from local businesses and individuals.
Two days earlier, Kailynn had unexpectedly lost her father, 41-year-old Ryan Hodak, from complications of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a diagnosis he had received on August 6.
Ryan had immediately begun an aggressive course of radiation and chemotherapy, but the treatment wiped out his immune system and left him susceptible to other infections.
Sadly, he contracted a bacterial infection in his weakened state and died Thursday, August 18 — only 12 days after his initial AML diagnosis.
The speed of his decline stunned and devastated his family and many friends.
“It was a huge shock to all of us,” his cousin, Chris Bakker, told the Current. “He was young, running his own business, just a hard-working, healthy guy. They were expecting to spend four to six weeks fighting this with chemo followed by a long recovery.”
Bakker, a longtime LaGrande resident and veteran of the Union County Junior Livestock Auction with his own kids, said Ryan and his family were new to the scene.
They had long dreamed of owning a farm and raising animals and had recently moved to Beavercreek to make their dreams come true.
Bakker was in the stands at the Clackamas County Junior Livestock Auction Saturday, when a friend presented Kailynn’s lamb at the end of the day. The auctioneer briefly shared about the family’s recent tragic loss — and the bidding war was on.
The 138-pound lamb, which ordinarily would have sold in the $10-to-$12-per-pound range, was ultimately won by Les Schwab Tire Centers — at 40 bucks a pound.
Add-on bids by Coastal Farm Stores, S&W Underground, Magic Mountain Livestock, Barreto Manufacturing (Bakker’s business), Chris and Jesse Bakker and others put the total selling price at over $100 a pound.
At just under $14,000, Kailynn Hodak’s little lamb was one of the most valuable ever sold at the Clackamas County JLA. (“First $100-per-pound lamb that I remember,” quipped the auction’s treasurer, Chris Nichols.)
“There had been a lot of tears, obviously,” Bakker said. “But for something like that to come out of a hard situation was really, really cool to see. For Kailynn, it gave her something to smile about that day.”
Bakker said he was particularly impressed by the community support considering the Hodaks were new to the area.
“They had just moved and bought that property,” he explained. “They weren’t really running in the same 4-H and FFA circles, but none of that mattered. For the community and the businesses there, it was just: ‘Hey, we have a family here that’s hurting. Let’s support them.'”
Bakker said the Hodak family continues to be embraced by loved ones and is doing about as well as can be expected.
“They’re really feeling the family and community support, and I know that’s been good for them,” he said.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up in support of the family and is available here.
2022 was another record year for the Junior Livestock Auction, with an estimated $700,000 being raised for 4-H and FFA youth in Clackamas County. More information about the annual event can be found online at ccjla.org.
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