York boy, 11, with heart condition to donate livestock auction winnings to heart group

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WEST MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- When Dalton Brown leads his two pigs into the livestock auction at the York Fair on Saturday, suitors will have their eyes wide and wallets open.

Dalton, 11, has cared for the two swine, Spots and Nibbles, since March. They're pretty easy to distinguish. Spots, a light gray pig, is covered in dark gray spots. One can only assume Nibbles got her name from the way she nibbles on Dalton's feet every time he walks into the pen.

Every day, twice a day, he makes sure they are given the best treatment.

"I like watching them from little babies, growing up," he said. "They've basically been with me for six months now. I've took care of them, fed them water, them played with them."

Spots and Nibbles are in tip-top shape going into the auction this weekend. Although, that's not the entire reason why they are expected to go top price. Dalton plans to donate half his winnings from his top-selling pig, which he expects to be Spots, to the Hershey Hearts Foundation, a family support group specifically focused on helping families with children fighting -- and living with -- heart conditions.

Money that Dalton donates will go towards a number of programs run by Hershey Hearts, including supplying families meals while their children are being treated at Penn State Children's Hospital. A large portion of money will also pay for family 'Survival Kits,' which are filled with items like food coupons for the hospital cafeteria, and other items which help families cope through the difficult time of having a child fight for his or her life.

It's a charity close to Dalton's heart, because his own heart needed the same help.

"It could help other kids and maybe even me finding a cure for my heart condition," Dalton said.

When he was born Dalton was diagnosed with a rare conditional called Tetralogy of Fallot with absent pulmonary valve syndrome. Essentially, Dalton was born with a hole in his heart where a pulmonary valve would normally go. Instead of blood going to his heart, blood instead would rush through it.

Dalton has already gone through two open heart surgeries as a child, with a third scheduled for next spring. He will continue to need heart surgeries until his body -- and heart -- are fully grown.

His father, Bob, says doctors told he and his wife, Michelle, early on in Dalton's life to try and let their son live a normal life.

"It's kind of hard to speak about because I know where he's coming from," Bob said of Dalton's desire to help others. "He wants to help other kids. If that's normal, we're proud of him."