Auction raised $180,000 for paralyzed farmer

A recent benefit for local dairy farmer Doug Weber has raised almost $180,000.

Jim Hipel, sale manager with the Ontario Livestock Ex­change, said he was overwhelmed by the generosity and community spirit shown by the farming community at an auction on March 25 in St. Jacob’s.

“It was unbelievable,” Hipel said of the event, which featured the sale of over 100 head of cattle and cattle semen and embryos; as well as cash donations.

“It was way past our expectations.”

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the auction will go to the Doug Weber trust fund, held at the Elmira Mennonite Savings and Credit Union.

Weber, 33, was left paralyzed from the neck down after a serious farm accident on Feb. 1, during which he was pinned by a falling hay bale on his farm on the 8th Line of Map­leton. A father of three young children, Weber is still in hospital in Hamilton, undergoing rehabilitation.

He is now starting to move his arms in therapy sessions, which doctors say is an encouraging sign.

Hipel said there is no doubt the family would have got through the ordeal somehow without the sale, but everyone wanted to help the Mennonite family.

The sale was organized by Hipel, Dennis Martin, and Der­rick Martin. In addition to the donated sale items, there was no commission charged, and everyone donated their time, including the truckers,  veterinarians, and sale workers, Hip­el said.

Those efforts helped maximize the amount of money the Webers received. The trust fund will be put towards hiring someone to help out on the family farm, making the Weber home wheelchair accessible, and any other expenses to help the family move on and ensure the survival of the farm.

Hipel said buyers at the auction were so generous that many animals were re-donated after their original sale.

He also told the story of a university student who came up to him with an envelope after the sale and donated $10, which was likely needed for school expenses.

“It was tremendous,” Hipel said of the outpouring of support for the Mapleton family. He added that the auction building was just packed with people, who lined up in hallways to get an opportunity to take part in the sale.

“It won’t make him walk again, but it might make his life a little easier,” Hipel said. “This is a great story of a community coming together to help one of their own.”

Weber’s brother, Ron, who represented the family at the auction, said Doug and his wife, Carol, are so thankful for the help, which has extended well beyond the family, church, and friends, and into the community.

“It was a tremendous turnout,” Ron Weber said of the sale. “There was a lot of cattle, a lot of people, and a lot of support.”

He added the family can’t thank the community enough for everything its done.

Anyone wanting to donate to the Doug Weber Trust Fund, can visit the  Elmira Mennonite Savings and Credit Union or call 519-669-1529 for more information.