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Sask. steer auction for teen with rare condition raises more than $50,000

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Estevan, Sask. -

A steer auctioned off on behalf a Saskatchewan teenager with a rare neurological disorder has raised more than $50,000 for an MRI project in his hometown.

Jaycee Ross, from Estevan, has Angelman Syndrome. The chances of being born with it are just one in 15,000.

"Angelman Syndrome is like downs in that it's a chromosomal abnormality," Jaycee’s mother, Carol Ross said. “He’s a big happy guy, loves everybody, loves hugs.”

Now that he’s 18, 2024 would have been his last year in 4-H Club, something his younger siblings have been a part of for many years and his family for even longer.

Through 4-H, his siblings have had the chance to auction off steers.

On its website, the Saskatchewan 4-H Club describes itself as a youth based organization for youth with a focus on hands-on experiential learning opportunities.

“I thought it'd be nice to raise a steer, call it Jaycee's steer and donate the proceeds of the steer to charity,” Carol said.

The cause the family chose was a project to raise money to purchase an MRI in Estevan. An area resident pledged $2 million towards the project in 2023, and another $4.5 million is needed to make the MRI a reality.

Jaycee Ross' steer awaits the auction block at the Energy City Exhibition in Estevan, Sask. on June 14, 2024. (ColeDavenport/CTVNews)Lori Gervais, the executive director of the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation, said community initiatives like the one Carol brought forward will be key to raising the remaining money.

“My daughter’s graduating in his same class, so Jaycee’s been part of our school experience the whole time so it’s great that it’s a such a personal thing to everybody,” Gervais said.

Jaycee is prone to seizures, a common issue for people with Angelman Syndrome.

“He had his first seizure, which is why he had an MRI when he was 18 months old, he had a really severe seizure,” Carol said. "He has been kind of a frequent flyer to the medical system. So really anything that we can do close to home I think is beneficial.”

Jaycee has received medical care in several other cities over the years, but Carol said having care options closer to home allows her to rely on family supports more.

As the Ross family prepared the steer for the auction during the intermission of Estevan’s annual rodeo on Friday, Jaycee is more than happy to say hello to anyone who stops by.

"Jaycee is an angel here on earth, and he just touches all our lives with lots of hugs and compassion, and to know him is to love him,” said his uncle, Chad Ross, who also donated the steer for the auction.

“He’ll steal your watermelon, he’ll steal your hat, and he’ll steal your heart,” Carol said with a laugh.

Carol Ross (L) stands with her son, Jaycee (R). (ColeDavenport/CTVNews) For his mother, there have been lessons learned in supporting her son over the past 18 years, but there’s one above all.

“I’ve just learned the joy of being around a kid like Jaycee,” Carol said. “Pretty lucky that I get to be his mom.”

After a series of auctions, including the steer itself being sold three separate times, the total sat above $50,000. It will all go towards a vital tool that will someday help other families with angels of their own.

  

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