Boerne – A Boerne teenage cancer survivor raised more than $30,000 to help support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital during a local livestock auction.
Maddie Barber, 17, was battling what she thought were hereditary migraines. In the summer of 2017, after several tests, she got an answer to those debilitating headaches.
“I had brain cancer. It was called medulloblastoma. It was about an avocado seed-sized tumor on my brain stem,” she recalled.
Barber spent the next eight months after that at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital with her whole family alongside her.
Barber has been cancer-free since then. She was in recovery about the same time she was pushed into a new hobby -- growing livestock for show.
It wasn’t hard for Barber to fall in love with her new hobby.
“I enjoy watching the pigs grow up,” she said.
Barber likes feeding the piglets and bonding with them. She also likes the time her family and friends get to spend together.
For the most part, livestock shows are for fun, showing off agriculture projects and making a little money for college expenses. Barber placed second in her category in early January during the Kendall County Jr. Livestock show. As part of the show, there’s a fundraiser for the kids during the premium sales. A competitor can bring in about $1,000 to $2,000 on average.
The Champion High School junior had an idea she had been considering for some time. With permission from her dad, Barber decided the funds she raised would go toward an organization close to her heart. She told the auctioneer her plan.
“Right after he said all donations go to St. Jude, all the cards went up. All the bidding cards went up,” she said.
Barber said her jaw dropped at hearing how much her community was donating to her cause.
“St. Jude, they saved my life, so I owe them my life. They supported me with, like, not just the cancer -- they supported me, and they supported my parents and my brother,” she said.
Barber said the $30,500 donation wouldn’t be possible without her community and agriculture teachers, who showed her everything about showing pigs.
Barber said pig-showing days continue in the upcoming San Antonio, San Angelo and Houston Junior Livestock Shows.