Closings & Delays

Big Winner, Bigger Heart: Farm Show auction champ donating to family with cancer-stricken daughter

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Colton Zundel has shown animals at the Pennsylvania Farm Show for the last 15 years, but he's never auctioned off a prize with more impact than he did Tuesday.

Zundel, a 20-year old college sophomore from New Alexandria in Westmoreland County, took home Grand Champion honors for his junior beef steer, Panda, earlier in the week. On Tuesday, Panda sold for $19,500 to John Rock, Inc. of Coatesville.

He doesn't plan on seeing most of the money, though. Instead, Zundel says he will donate  a large, undetermined portion of his winnings to a family in Greene County, Pa. whose 4-year old daughter has stomach cancer.

"Words can't describe how it feels," Zundel said. "Sometimes you know you just need to do the right thing."

Zundel has never met the family, nor does he know them personally. He says he learned of their situation after finding out he bought Panda from the same farm as they bought their steer.

The anonymous Greene County family normally attends the Farm Show, but couldn't this year because of their daughter's condition.

A portion of Zundel's winnings will go back into the Farm Show Scholarship Fund, although most will be his. He'll determine how much to give to the family once he pays off some of his student debt.

"It's probably going to be enough. It'll help them out a good bit. Take some stress off their shoulders," he said.

The act of charity is not uncommon with Farm Show families,  according to Scholarship Foundation treasurer Michael Firestine.

"This is like one big family here at the Farm Show," he said. "Everybody knows one another. We try to help one another. That's what it's about: Giving back."

Hours after selling Panda, Zundel gave him away. He's known the steer since April. Zundel says he would come home from Delaware Valley University every weekend to care for Panda and begin preparing him to be shown this week. Those visits increased to every day during the summer months.

"I knew this day was coming. It always comes. Me and (Panda) have a special bond," Zundel says. "He'll be going to the slaughterhouse and that will be the end of it."

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