A wheelchair can't keep Columbus teen out of the show ring

Dori Lichty

BEAVER DAM -  When Caroline Powers entered the junior dairy show ring at the Dodge County Fair on show day, Aug. 17, with her March calf, Bailey, she was on a mission to show that calf like her friends showed theirs, and nothing was going to stand in her way, not even her wheelchair.

Caroline Powers stands in line with her March calf and waits for the junior-champion announcement during the junior dairy show at the Dodge County Fair.

The 13-year-old dairy farms with her parents, Jon and Lori Powers, Columbus. Powers was born with Spina Bifida and needs a wheelchair to get around.

The dairy project is considered one of the hardest, most labor intense projects a 4-H or FFA member can enter at the fair, but Astico Perseverance 4-H Club member doesn’t see it that way.

“I saw some of my friends doing it, and it looked kind of easy,” said Powers. “My calf wasn’t hard to break to lead; when we got her out the first time to practice, she already knew how to lead. She did it all on her own.”

Animals can scare easily if they’re not used to something, but Bailey the calf wasn’t scared of Powers’ wheelchair at all.

“Her foot sometimes hits the wheel, but otherwise, she’s really good,” she said.

In addition to general care and practicing with their animals all summer long, the dairy youth have to wash their animals daily, or at least several times a week. For Powers, there are no excuses why she can’t do it, too.

"She helped almost every time we took the calf out to wash her,” said her Dad.

All Powers’ hard work paid off.

Caroline Powers, 13, a member of the Astico Perseverance 4-H was excited to have the opportunity to show her heifer Bailey in the junior dairy show at the Dodge County Fair.  Born with spina bifida, she has been paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair but still manages to get out to the barn on her family’s dairy farm to help with calf care.

“Bailey walked slow in the ring like I wanted her to. Emma Paulson helped me, and we got to bring her back in the ring later for junior champion, because we won second blue.”

A small army came to Beaver Dam to watch Powers show — aunt, cousins, and grandmas. Judging from the crowd, though, there were a few more than that.

In addition to dairy, Powers also shows cats at the fair.

“I love cats and taming kittens. The cat I’m bringing to show is named Skyler. In cats, I’ve learned safety carrying -- carrying the cats in a safe way, kind of like cradling the cat.”

The Dodge County Fair ran from Aug . 16-20. Visit dodgecountyfairgrounds.com for more information and photos.

Lichty is a farm wife, 4-H Mom, and full-time communicator