Klamath Falls resident Twila Slease was diagnosed with spina bifida at birth, with a portion of her spine outside her body.
Doctors said she would never walk.
But no one would have known any of that as the 22-year-old not only walked but smiled brightly as she showed a Hampshire-Suffolk cross lamb named Patrick at the Alternative Stock Show Classic on Aug. 6 at the Klamath County Fairgrounds, where she won grand champion in the lamb division.
The stock show classic, which drew as many as 200 attendees this year, is a chance for youth and adults with developmental disabilities to show an animal in the arena at the fair.
Slease was one of 16 participants, which is in its fourth year. Each was paired with a team of three to four 4-H and FFA assistants, who guided show participants through the process of feeding, grooming and walking an animal, and then through the process of showing it before judges.
Preparations for the stock show classic were in the works for three to four months, according to organizers.
But once the clock starts on the day of the show, all the preparation culminates to less than one hour to teach participants the basics of showmanship.
“You have 30 minutes to teach them how to get ready for the show,” said Traci Reed, to 4-H and FFA assistants who helped organize the event.
Once animals, handlers, and assistants are in ring, judges walk about looking for those taking extra care and interest.
All participants are recognized for their devotion to the animals and their enthusiasm for showmanship.
“You’re all great showmen and you’re all great champions in my heart,” one of the judges told participants.
But there are real prizes, too.
Stephan Williams, in his third year competing, won grand champion for showing a goat this year.
As Williams brushed his goat from a wheelchair prior to showing her, FFA assistant Baylee Rogers shared her enthusiasm for the event.
“I just love being able to help do whatever I can to make sure that they get to enjoy the fair as well,” Rogers said.
This year, she said she wanted to let participants like Williams experience as much as possible.
“I want him to get the experience of doing what we do and having fun, because that’s what really matters,” Rogers said.
Chelsea Shearer, organizer of the event, helped start the show in 2015 after she saw a video of a similar stock show on social media.
She sees the event as a chance for 4-H and FFA participants to serve others.
“That’s what 4-H is based on is giving back to the community,” Shearer said.