Seventeen years and thousands of feeder calves ago, Nichols Farms and the Creston Livestock Auction started selling genetic source-verified feeder calves. A few weeks before that initial sale, Dick Myers, owner of Creston (IA) Livestock Auction, passed away at the age of 49. Because this sale was a dream of his, his wife Carole agreed to host the first Nichols Genetic Source sale. It was a great success.

Shortly thereafter, she sold the business to Tom and Leisa Frey. We were the first potential clients they called on. And the first words out of Tom’s mouth were, “We want to continue the Nichols Genetic Source Sales.”

I was alone in my office in early December when my cell phone rang. It was Ross Havens, Nichols Farms’ marketing coordinator, who informed me that the Freys’ sons, T.J. (11) and Nathan (9), had drowned when they fell through the ice on a farm pond on Nov. 30.

To help the Freys, industry friends and colleagues chipped in to conduct the Creston Livestock Auction’s scheduled feeder calf sale on Dec. 4. Under the direction of the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), several sale barns, direct competitors with Creston Livestock Auction, managed the sale, recruited auctioneers, and furnished their staff to get the job done. Sale barns from Kentucky, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Iowa participated. And two LMA world champion auctioneers, Lanny Ireland and Charley Cummins, called the sale.

One particular steer that entered the ring was no ordinary calf. He was donated by the Unionville Livestock Market, and 100% of the sale proceeds would go to the T. J. and Nathan Frey Memorial Fund for the St. Malachy School where the Frey boys were students. 

The calf sold for $3,500 and was donated back to be sold again. Over and over, the calf was sold, donated back and resold. Eventually the folks on the seats just called out their name and the amount of their contribution. Bids started coming in by cell phones pledging to the rollover calf auction. When the fund-raising portion of the sale was over, $53,000 had been raised.         

This is testimony to the fact that when good people suffer adversity, there are lots of ordinary cowpokes who are willing to open their pocketbooks to help those who are suffering. 

The Freys are special people. These are folks who have done much more than just open their pocketbooks to help troubled youth in their community. They have opened both their hearts and home to unfortunate children. It started when a friend of their daughter’s wanted Tom and Leisa to adopt her. Before the bureaucratic paperwork was completed, she was adopted by another family. So they adopted three young boys; T. J. (five), Nathan (four), and Corey, (one).

The Freys are ordinary extraordinary human beings. Without a doubt, there will be a special place in heaven for them.

Dave Nichols heads up Nichols Farms, Anita, IA, seedstock operation.

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