When the world lost Sara Hess in a 2017 automobile crash, nobody in the community was ready to give up on her memory.
Hess, a student at Graham High School and a member of 4-H, was one of the girls to catch a scramble pig at last year’s fair. This year, she was honored by a fellow showman at the Champaign County Fair.
Dori Wilson, a childhood friend of Sara and a teammate of hers on the volleyball squad, decided she would try to show the pig in Sara’s memory.
“Our girls grew up with Sara in church. They stayed close. They were on the volleyball team together,” said Joe Wilson, Dori’s father. “It’s what friends do. That’s simply the best way to put it.”
“We talked to the right people and they gave us the go-ahead and we made it happen,” Dori Wilson said. “(Sara and I) were close when we were younger. We both always loved animals. I thought it would be a nice thing to do for her and her family.”
The pig, named “Cinco,” was shown during the Born and Raised and scramble shows this week, earning reserve champion in the scramble show. It sold for $10,000 to a syndicate of buyers during Thursday’s swine sale, with proceeds going to a memorial scholarship fund in Sara’s name. Bids were still being turned in on Thursday evening, pushing the total to $10,270 at press time.
Wilson said she decided to name the pig Cinco after Sara’s number-five shirt she wore during the scramble. Hess also was the fifth person to catch a pig, and the ear tag on the animal read – you guessed it – number five.
Dori already shows two other swine exhibits, with her sister and father also involved. She has previously shown division winners and a reserve champion in the born and raised gilt show.
“With the success, you just gain some confidence. Being able to show the pig in the ring makes the judge respect you and gives you even more confidence. Another pig is almost a blessing, really,” she said.
A blessing that endures in memory of a classmate, a teammate, a friend.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1775) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.