We are home to the largest Junior Livestock Auction in the world. The barns overflow with thousands of animals brought by children from around the state, hoping to qualify for a place at the auction... . The buyers are the business leader “Who’s Who” of San Antonio, wealthy individuals, and representatives of the various committees which raise funds and who believe in and want to support the youth of Texas.
. ..The San Antonio Livestock Exhibition website describes our historic contributions to educating the youth of Texas, but stories such as this one, about Lot 44 from Mills County, Texas, usually don’t make the local paper.
On Saturday afternoon, February 20, 2010, a young boy brought his goat to the auction. Dustin Mangus drew Lot #44, slightly less than halfway through the 100 Lots going to auction that night. It was not a particularly advantageous or unlucky draw, but ordinarily might have been a place in the program that wouldn’t have commanded much attention, much less a record purchase price. The auctioneer, however, took time to reign in the frenzied crowd and tell Dustin’s story:
Early in the morning on December 8, 2009, Dustin, his younger brother and sister, and their father, David Mangus, were in a rollover accident near their home in Mullin, Texas. Their truck’s roof was crushed when it crashed into a tree, and David Mangus was killed at the scene. Dustin’s brother and sister suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from the hospital. Dustin, though, was in critical condition from his injuries, and underwent several surgeries to save his life and reconstruct his face. The first surgery was to remove a part of the truck’s dashboard that had lodged in his head, and to reconstruct the eye socket that was damaged as a result.
The little boy who stood before us on the auction block, holding his goat while we heard this story, smiled at us from a beautiful, innocent face that showed little sign of his tragedy or his loss. Had someone not shared his story we never would have been allowed to ponder this young man’s ability to overcome adversity. We never would have had the privilege of comprehending his incredible achievement. To have been able to continue to raise that animal and be ready for a stock show in February, he had to have gotten right back up and kept on living the minute they let him out of the hospital.
The auctioneer asked every bidder who had already pledged funds to this boy to stand, and every top buyer in the room stood. When the bidding opened, the price for Lot #44 was already at $20,000. Then, a true miracle began as the people of San Antonio opened their hearts for Dustin and his family. Corporation after corporation added on another thousand here, another two thousand there, another $5,000, and the price went to $60,000 at record speed. Leaders of San Antonio businesses started making personal contributions out of their own money, and the price kept climbing. Individual spectators and those in the audience began coming down one, by one, giving personal contributions and pledges to this family. It was one heck of an altar call, and the only thing flowing faster than the money was the tears.
Dustin’s little brother joined him on the block and the two of them smiled their sweet smiles while the money kept coming in, and we feel certain they had no idea what those numbers meant. Dustin’s grandpa came down from the audience to stand with the boys and choked back tears, while people in the room who weren’t registered bidders started coming forward to make personal contributions. When the price hit $110,000, one of the top buyers announced he had partnered with another to add on to make it an even $150,000 for Dustin. The gavel came down on the highest priced goat at this year’s Junior Livestock Auction while everyone cheered and cried at the same time. Dustin’s grandpa was openly crying when he took the microphone to thank the crowd in a shaky voice, with no real ability to impart his gratitude more than his tears communicated…. He simply said “Thank you. I don’t know what else to say. Thank you.”
We all know there is no amount of money that heals the pain of losing your Dad. Not one of us gave to this cause imagining there was any way it could ever make up for what Dustin and his family lost. This was our way of reaching out to a family in need, in tragedy, in suffering, and offering them something shining and positive and good to help them on the road that lies ahead. Dustin has already had to overcome more adversity at the age of 10 than some of us will ever face. What the people of San Antonio did for Dustin and his family was truly amazing, but even more amazing is the spirit Dustin embodies, in showing up with his goat to do what he set out to do. With a smile on his face and with his family by his side.
This demonstration of generosity, kindness and support is what the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is really about. We are investing in the future of our country by investing in the lives of our country’s children. We are raising money to help provide educational opportunities for as many children as we can reach. And sometimes, we are witnessing miracles.
You had a part in Dustin’s story, and every other story that came through the auction this year. We hope one day very soon, you will come see it for yourself. Thank you for your contribution to our efforts. You and Dustin are our heroes.
From the bottom our hearts,
The Raffle Committee
(this was in our local paper, you can read it here)
This is why I'm proud to be from this part of the state. Hearts are big in San Antonio. Real big.