Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sale of Hernando High FFA hog to help family dealing with cancer


Four-year-old Kiersten Sikes promised she would sit in her stroller if she could just hang out with her daddy Saturday at the Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock Show. But Zane Sikes, the fair's livestock co-chairman, was working the arena gate at the open beef cattle show.

No problem. Members of the Hernando High School FFA were there to assist.

In fact, the high schoolers are helping in a big way this week with the youngster, who has been diagnosed with a form of cancer that pediatricians and oncologists at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg say they've never seen before, according to her mother, Brittany Sikes.

Kiersten is likely facing surgery soon, the second since she was diagnosed last year with teratoid medulloepithelioma.

"This March, they found a tumor on her liver. It's huge," Brittany Sikes said. "Another's at the base of her bladder."

The latest tumors are, so far, not invasive. But "she will need chemo. The oncologist said it's the harshest type anybody can take," her mother said.

Rick Ahrens, the vocational agriculture teacher and the adviser to the FFA chapter at Hernando High, learned of the family's situation last week. Both of Kiersten's parents are FFA alumni. Ahrens said he mused over his personal philosophy: "Do everything in humble service to others."

Sitting ringside Saturday, Ahrens added, "There's things more important at these livestock shows than winning. It's doing right for kids."

Ahrens' thoughts ran to the chapter-owned pig competing at the fair that was purchased with chapter money, used to teach animal management and that will be sold at this Saturday's youth livestock auction. The proceeds were intended to go to the chapter.

Let's donate the money to the Sikes family, he concluded.

Ahrens approached Wes Byer, the FFA chapter president and its student livestock manager.

"I didn't get the idea out, and he said 'yes,' " Ahrens said.

Ahrens is touting the undertaking throughout this week's fair.

"We have to make sure this kid gets what she needs," he tells folks.

The 285-pound Hampshire-cross market hog, named Coney Island, has been fed and managed by chapter members Amanda Litwinsky, who showed the hog in conformation competition Monday; Madison Stallard, who handled the animal in the showmanship contest Tuesday, and Ali Miner, who will lead it into the sale ring Saturday. Hogs will lead off the auction at 10 a.m.

"We're hoping somebody buys it and donates it back and we sell it again," Ahrens said. "Let's sell it again and make some money for this kid. It may raise hundreds; it may raise a couple thousand."

Brittany Sikes said her daughter's care at All Children's will be covered by the Florida KidCare program.

"It's taking time off from working and getting there, staying there," she explained of the additional costs.

Brittany Sikes is a corporate accountant at Access Health Care in Spring Hill. Zane Sikes works for Trees Inc., a tree-trimming company in Ridge Manor.

An account in Kiersten Sikes' name for receipt of donations has been established at Suncoast Credit Union.

"We've done this before for kids in need," Ahrens said. What he especially treasures about the effort is "it's kids helping kids."

Beth Gray can be reached at

. If you go

Livestock auction

The livestock auction at the Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock Show begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at the fairgrounds, 6436 Broad St., Brooksville. The livestock gate opens at 9 a.m. For information, call (352) 796-4552.

Sale of Hernando High FFA hog to help family dealing with cancer 04/08/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 6:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Study: States with legalized marijuana have more car crash claims


    DENVER — A recent insurance study links increased car crash claims to legalized recreational marijuana.

    A close-up of a flowering marijuana plant in the production room of Modern Health Concepts' greenhouse on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. [C.M. Guerrero | Miami Herald/TNS]
  2. Black lawmaker: I was called 'monkey' at protest to change Confederate street signs


    A black state legislator says he was called a "nigger" and a "monkey" Wednesday by pro-Confederates who want Hollywood to keep three roads named after Confederate generals, including one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.

    Rep. Shevrin Jones.
  3. Senate GOP set to release health-care bill (w/video)


    WASHINGTON -— Senate Republicans on Thursday plan to release a health-care bill that would curtail federal Medicaid funding, repeal taxes on the wealthy and eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood as part of an effort to fulfill a years-long promise to undo Barack Obama's signature health-care law.

    From left, Uplift Executive Director Heidi Mansir, of Gardiner, Maine, former West Virginia State Rep. Denise Campbell, Elkins, W. Va., University of Alaska-Anchorage student Moira Pyhala of Soldotna, Alaska, and National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson appear before Democratic senators holding a hearing about how the GOP health care bill could hurt rural Americans, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was expected to push for a vote next week on the legislation, which would eliminate much of Obama's 2010 overhaul and leave government with a diminished role in providing coverage and helping people afford it. [Associated Press]
  4. Pasco fire station reopens after hundreds of bats forced crews out

    Human Interest

    Fire crews have returned to a Hudson fire station nearly two weeks after they were forced out by possibly thousands of bats.

    Fire crews returned to Station 39 in Hudson on June 21, 2017, nearly twoo weeks after the building was closed due to a rat infestation. [Times files]
  5. Church of England head says it 'colluded with' sex abuse


    LONDON — The Church of England "colluded" with and helped to hide the long-term sexual abuse of young men by one of its former bishops, the head of the church said Thursday.