Grant Garman in the Governor’s Steer Show

15-year-old Grant Garman from Keota had a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience this summer he will reflect on as one of his most memorable events in life. On Saturday, August 11, 2018, Garman and his steer, ‘Quarter Pounder’ joined 24 other participants in the ring of the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines for the 36th Annual Governor’s Charity Steer Show.

            The show, which began in 1983, was started when the Iowa Beef Council and the Iowa Cattleman’s Association joined forces with Governor Terry Branstad to organize the charity event in order to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Iowa. In the past 35 years more than $3.2 million has been raised for the locations in Des Moines, Iowa City, and Sioux City.

            Grant said he felt like the opportunity was a “once in a lifetime experience,” and is very grateful for his neighbor who made it happen. “My neighbor, Dustin Ford, contacted his college roommate who is the President of the Iowa Cattleman’s Association, and he gave us this opportunity to show at the Governor’s Steer Show.”

            Grant’s dad Jeff, according to his Mom, Carrie, “is the cattle guy in the family,” but since he was ill and in the hospital the week of the show, she and Grant “had to manage” without him.

            “With all the things going on health wise, Grant has pretty much done everything himself this year.” By everything, Mom means morning and night chores, breaking him to lead, and for the two months before the show, washing him daily and applying a sheen to his coat.

            While in the ring, the interviewer asked Grant the question: “So we hear that you’re showing for someone special today that can’t be here?”

            Grant’s eloquent response impressed his mom. “My dad’s at home and he has stage 3 cancer so he couldn’t make it today. I know that this is a big deal for both me and him and I was going to dedicate my showing to him.”

            Perhaps the best part about the day for the Garman’s is that they were not in the ring alone. As Carrie pointed out, “we have had just tremendous support from the community and friends.” Grant said his most treasured memory is “probably just being in the ring with all those people around. I had a great cheering squad.”

            When you participate in the Governor’s Steer Show, you order T-shirts for your cheering squad. A good friend of the Garman family, Shauna Sieren, offered to take over the hassle of shirt ordering for the Garman’s, all along with another motive in mind. The shirts were sold as a fundraiser for the family, and after the final orders were in, the total sold was 565 shirts.

            “It was just the most touching, amazing thing. We had no idea. Some people we didn’t even know, but they were buying shirts just because they heard about our story,” Carrie said.

            In the running for the Peoples Choice Award, the Quarter Pounder crew was among the top three. Although the applause meter might have been on the wrong side of the ring to judge fairly, the Garman’s “felt like they had already won anyway,” because with over 200 people there for Grant and QP, they really did have the largest cheering squad. Carrie explained how exhilarating having such a large crowd was for them. “When we walked into the ring, that’s the first thing we saw, and everybody cheered. It touched our hearts more than anything.”

            All that support would have helped calm Grant’s nerves, if he had any. But Grant said he wasn’t very nervous, since the show was a Celebrity Show and he only had to assist in the showing of Quarter Pounder.

            “It wasn’t that nerve-wracking because I just had to help Dr. McNamara show my steer,” Grant said.

            Dr. Patrick McNamara, originally from Ireland, is the director of Neonatology at the University of Iowa, and had only been in the United States for a couple of months, and had never shown livestock before. His wife grew up on a farm in Ireland, however, and was very excited for him to participate, and the whole family flew over from Ireland to watch. Grant had only an hour and a half to teach McNamara about Quarter Pounder, and how to show a steer. Thankfully, as Grant boasted, “Quarter Pounder behaved very well in the ring.”

            Another special part of the day for Grant was the chance to have lunch with Governor Kim Reynolds. The Governor is one of the celebrities that show a steer, so the participants were able to spend the day with her. When Grant met her, he said she was very personable and said, “Call me Kim.” She was also very impressed that Grant knew about politics and suggested that he look into an internship at the State Capitol.

            Out of the 25 steers at the show, the final bids ranged between $3,000 and as high as $61,000. McDonald’s of Eastern Iowa paid $10,000 for ‘this’ Quarter Pounder, with all proceeds going to benefit the Ronald McDonald Houses in Iowa.         Part of the experience of participating in the Governor’s Steer Show is volunteering at a Ronald McDonald House. The morning of the show, all the participants and their families loaded up by bus and went to help out at the house in Des Moines. Grant took away a great lesson from this experience. For him it was about more than the show. “It was for a really good cause and it touches your heart. It helps a lot of families.”

            As a 4-H leader for both her kids, Carrie is grateful for this experience and the lesson here that “big picture is the Ronald McDonald House, which are always looking for volunteers.” Being able to volunteer that day and participate in a charity event was a blessing for the Garman’s because it gave them a chance to give back.

            “The hardest thing we’ve ever had to do is accept help…we’d rather give…but that day, we were able to give back a little and help like we’ve been helped,” Carrie said.

            Jeff, Carrie and Grant could not stress enough thanks for this experience.

            “We really want to thank Shauna and Dustin, they really made this all happen…. We’re fortunate to live in our small town like this because everyone just rallies behind you. Sometimes in this fight in this disease you feel like you’re alone, but you’re not…you have all these people that are supporting you and caring for you too, so it’s really amazing.”


To see more pictures of the event, check out the September 5th edition of The Keota Eagle.


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