Home Indiana News Steer Champion Donates To St. Jude At Annual Polk Auction

Steer Champion Donates To St. Jude At Annual Polk Auction

Noah Knepp won the Grand Champion Steer at this year’s Kosciusko County Fair. With encouragement from his father, he decided to donate 10% of his auction proceeds – $1,300 – to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. The announcement was made Saturday during the Polk Auction Company Annual Labor Day Weekend Collector Auction. Pictured (L to R) in the front row while Jeff Polk (in back) auctions off some tractors are Andon Zehring, Polk’s nephew who is a cancer survivor; Chris Cage, Willie 103.5; Knepp; and Abbi Moore, St. Jude development representative. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
NEW PARIS – Saturday was the third and final day of the Polk Auction Company Annual Labor Day Weekend Collector Auction, but it also marked a special day for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Not only did the longtime New Paris business auction off three tractors with 100% of the proceeds going to St. Jude, but the young man who had the grand champion steer at the Kosciusko County Fair this year donated 10% of his proceeds from the auction of the steer to St. Jude.

Noah Knepp, 14, donated $1,300 Saturday to St. Jude.

In his remarks at the auction, Knepp said before the steer was sold, it was decided that 10% of whatever the steer went for would be given to St. Jude. He said his dad had suggested they give back to something good since the steer would likely go for a lot of money.

Knepp said he’s been coming to the Polk auction for “I don’t know how long” and that it felt good to give back.

Auctioneer Jeff Polk introduced Knepp and explained why St. Jude was so near and dear to his heart. He said about six or seven years ago, he wanted to give back for all the blessings the Lord had given to him.

His nephew, Andon Zehring – son of Brian and  Polk’s sister Janelle Zehring – had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, Glioblastoma, almost 14 years ago. Before Andon’s diagnosis, Janelle took him to the doctor multiple times and was told he was just teething. One day Andon’s face was sagging and they knew something wasn’t right. Once he was diagnosed, he wasn’t given any hope at the time.

Thanks to Riley Hospital for Children, St. Jude, Ronald McDonald House “and due to the radiation and experimental treatments” they offered, Andon beat the odds and is now 13 and cancer free, Polk said.

“That’s why I want to give back,” he said.

He also mentioned his uncle, Gary, who died in April at 57 of cancer.

“What you guys do here, helps down there,” Polk said.

He read a letter from Rusty Fogel who was attending the auction with his father, probably for the last time as his dad was diagnosed with liver cancer a couple of years ago.

Before auctioning off the three tractors, Polk told the crowd they were the “biggest hearted rascals around.”

The three tractors that were donated to the auction for St. Jude included a John Deere 420C, which garnered $3,750; a John Deere 420S, which collected $5,500; and a John Deere D, which raised $8,000.

Abbi Moore, development representative for St. Jude, said, “Their generosity just helps us forward our mission, which is finding cures and saving children. Because of wonderful people like the Polks and their big hearts, we’re able to continue that and raise our childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since our doors opened. And they just help us push forward and try to increase that survival rate to 90% and hopefully, finally, end childhood cancer one day.”

She said everybody has been affected by cancer somehow in their lives, whether that’s a family member or friend.

“I think that just lets people connect with this mission and St. Jude doesn’t just help children – we share the research with everyone (freely) around the world, with doctors and other researchers around the world, and it helps fight cancer everywhere,” she said.

“It’s a cause that everyone can get behind because everyone is truly affected by this.”

Willie 103.5 also offered up a number of tickets for some upcoming concerts and racing events, such as country artist Luke Bryan and Indianapolis Brickyard 400, with proceeds also going to St. Jude.

The radio station’s Chris Cage said Willie 103.5 has been a part of the Polk auction since the beginning when the Polks approached them with the idea of raising money for St. Jude.

“Obviously, Jeff Polk, their family has been affected by it and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has been a passion of ours, our main charity at the radio station, and we’ve supported it for years. We’ve done numerous radio-athons and other activities,” Cage said.

Willie’s radio-athon for St. Jude is Sept. 12-13 where listeners will have an opportunity to call in and become a Partner In Hope “and help us support the hospital,” Cage said. He said they will have tickets and other items during the radio-athon to bring in more donations. There’s a guitar signed by music artists for the event to encourage people to call in and help the hospital.

“The generosity of the folks here at Polk Auction and of our community – it’s just every year, we just sit back at the end of the day and say, ‘Wow!’”

St. Jude is all about providing hope to kids. Cage said that every dollar that comes in for St. Jude helps provide that hope for kids with cancer.

Since Polk Auction Co. has been raising money for St. Jude, Cage estimated they’ve raised over $300,000 just at the auction. The radio station’s events for St. Jude also has raised “hundreds of thousands” over the years for the hospital, he said.

“Again, it’s overwhelming, but it’s $2 million-plus a day to run the hospital down there to keep the research lights on. So, every little bit helps, but it’s just a small portion of what everyone around the world does to keep the hospital going,” Cage said.

Other fundraisers for St. Jude were held over the three-day event at Polk Auction Company, 72435 Ind. 15. As of about noon Saturday, about $20,000 was collected for St. Jude, with more donations coming in as the day progressed.