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Estevan family will host steer auction fundraiser for MRI during rodeo

On June 14, during the intermission of the Energy City Ex's rodeo, Jaycee Ross and his family will hold an MRI steer auction fundraiser, marking a poignant moment for all of them.

ESTEVAN — Estevan's Jaycee Ross, a young man with Angelman Syndrome, is preparing to make a significant impact on his community as he graduates from the Estevan Comprehensive School this year.

On June 14, during the intermission of the Energy City Ex's rodeo, Jaycee and his family will hold an MRI steer auction fundraiser, marking a poignant moment for all of them.

The idea for the fundraiser originated with his family, who sought to include their son in the family's annual 4-H steer activities despite his disability. They were getting the 4-H steers for Jaycee's siblings, Sydney and Hugh, in the fall, when they decided that it was time to also try to do something similar for their oldest one.

"Every year, we do 4-H steers with the other kids, and I've never done a steer with Jaycee," Jaycee's mother Carol Ross said, explaining that due to the disability caused by the rare genetic condition, Jaycee was never able to be a part of 4-H and enjoy many activities his siblings do. "I thought it would be nice to have that opportunity with Jaycee, and then to take the investment that we would have put into Jaycee and somehow benefit the community. That's how the idea started to have a charity steer, and then it just evolved from there."

The Ross family decided that the MRI project at St. Joseph's Hospital would be the beneficiary of their efforts, as they felt it would be something that matters to everyone. Besides, raising a child with a disability, they've been "frequent fliers to the medical system" and had to use an MRI as early as when Jaycee was only 18 months old.

"Our first line of care for Jaycee is St. Joseph's Hospital, … and it's so beneficial for us to be able to have it close to home where we have the support of our home community and the family," Carol said.

"And the MRI project is so worthwhile, and something that the community would really get behind. It's the fantastic project that Elaine Walkom started in memory of Grant and that's the charity that we decided to contribute to. ... Having this MRI to relieve wait times for people who need medical attention is going to be so beneficial to southeast Saskatchewan," she added.

Carol noted that Gage Goetz, who was nine at the time when he decided to auction his steer to support the Jim Pattison's Children's Hospital in 2019, raising over $30,000, was an inspiration for her.

The support the family has already received with this project has been great, Carol noted. For the steer, they reached out to local cattle producers and also Jaycee's uncle and aunt, Chad and Crystal Ross, who decided to donate the calf for the project, Carol said, expressing her gratitude. The Estevan Exhibition Association has been welcoming in providing a venue to present the steer. Norm Mack with Mack Auctions agreed to conduct the auction, and Colesey Goetz designed the poster for the event.

"It's been amazing. There has been the support of some of the other parents in 4-H and my friends and the community," Carol shared.

Jaycee's siblings took on the responsibility of raising the steer for their older brother along with their own, feeding, bathing and preparing them to be marketed throughout the winter and spring.

While Jaycee's family will be doing the main part of presenting the steer for the auction, he will also be at the arena, enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of the rodeo. Jaycee will be riding in a side-by-side to ensure his safety while still being part of the event.

"He loves a good energetic crowd. He actually watches rodeo videos on YouTube and loves the national anthem and fireworks," Carol shared.

The auction will not only be a fundraiser but also a celebration of Jaycee's achievements and resilience.

The significant event for the Ross family will also coincide with Jaycee's graduation weekend.

"It's going to be a big weekend for Jaycee with the charity auction, his grad parade, and then his graduation on Saturday," Carol said.

If someone would like to support Jaycee and his family's initiative, they can donate towards the MRI project by going to the St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation website at www.sjhf.org/mriforestevan and under dedication indicate "Jaycee Ross steer", or bid on Jaycee's steer on June 14.