Her name is Faith.
She's about 6 months old, was born on a farm in Georgia and has no idea how important she is to a 16-year-old girl who needs a kidney transplant.
Faith is a pig, specifically a Yorkshire-Hampshire cross.
The girl needing the transplant is Darby Hasting, a junior at Durant High School.
The connection between the two is that Darby needs $100,000 to cover the costs insurance won't pick up for the transplant. She has about $20,000 saved so far.
Hopefully, Faith can increase that.
She's to be auctioned at next week's Hillsborough County Fair with proceeds going toward Darby's medical fund.
It will represent one more in a succession of fundraisers since last year, when Darby got sick.
School had just ended and Darby, then 15, was getting ready for the hourlong drive to the statewide Future Farmers of America conference in Orlando.
She felt tired and looked puffy. Her jeans barely fit, her face was swollen and she couldn't get her feet into her Docksiders. She figured she needed sleep, but stopped by a clinic for a steroid shot, thinking she might also have had an allergic reaction. She felt fine afterward and hopped back inside her dad's blue pickup for the drive to Orlando.
She could hardly wait. Her parents, Dwight and Gloria, had promised to take her and three of her FFA friends to Joe's Crab Shack that night.
"I was so excited," she said.
That night, sitting in the restaurant, she felt fine, but she wasn't fine. The swelling hadn't receded. She pleaded with her parents and cried, but Gloria was determined to get her to Tampa General Hospital.
"You just knew something was wrong," she said.
Darby heard the initial diagnosis four days later from a hospital bed. Her kidneys were shutting down and she was retaining fluids, which explained the puffiness. A specialist said she had nephrotic syndrome, a disease afflicting 15 of every 100,000 children, usually young boys. It causes kidneys to leak large amounts of protein from the blood into the urine.
A regimen of six medications will control, but not cure, the disease, and eventually she'll need a transplant, likely in five years or so.
Until then, Darby must limit her fluid intake to no more than 48 ounces a day — the equivalent of four cans of soda — and avoid sports and direct sunlight for fear of sweating. She played soccer for seven years, but can't do that again.
She carries an embroidered pouch containing slips of paper that reference Scripture.
Darby's parents can't cover the transplant's costs, estimated at $500,000. Insurance will pay most of it, but that still leaves about $100,000. Dwight Hasting runs his own tile installation company. His wife is a fifth-grade language arts teacher at Trapnell Elementary School.
Enter the 4-H Young Sprouts, a club that teaches youth about agriculture. The Sprouts heard about Darby's plight and offered to help. The Vaughan family was looking to enroll their youngest, 9-year-old Johnathan, when Sprouts leader Sheri Ray told them about Darby.
"I just thought it was great opportunity for him to learn about giving back," Johnathan's mother, Lori Vaughan, said.
The boy knows Darby is sick, but he smiles shyly and shrugs when asked about his efforts to help her.
"It's good," he says.
The Hastings hope the auction will bring $3,000 to $4,000. Families often direct that money toward a college fund. In this case, it's going to a transplant fund. The auction will occur midway through the fair, which runs Wednesday through Oct. 21 at State Road 60 and Sydney Washer Road in Brandon.
Darby visits Faith from time to time, as well as the boy tending to her.
"Sometimes I just can't believe what this little boy is doing this for me," she says.
Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2454.