Eli and Babe: A story of a boy and his pig

(WANE Photo)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) It’s a story about a boy and his pig.

The boy is 9-year-old Eli Gross, and the pig is a crossbred fellow named Babe.

Eli has Down syndrome, and on Monday he carried on his family’s 4-H tradition started by his grandpa more than 70 years ago.

Along his side the whole way was his friend and 4H veteran, 18-year-old Olivia Huelsenbeck

“He’s just a joy,” Olivia said. “He comes to the house and comes upstairs and wakes us up every morning. In the show ring, he’s like ‘I’m doing it!’ ‘I’m showing!’ I’m always like, ‘Yeah! You are!’”

Eli did everything to take care of Babe from walking, cleaning, and feeding him, to what he calls ‘making Babe handsome.’

“That’s for my Babe!” Eli exclaimed

“He knows what he’s supposed to do and he doesn’t want to stop until the job is done,” Olivia’s mom Mari Huelsenbeck said.

All the hard work and hours Eli sacrificed were for the livestock auction.

It was a sad moment but a proud moment as Eli said goodbye to his friend Babe.

“We told him Babe is going to leave tomorrow,” Mari Huelsenbeck said. “We’re not going to truly know how it’s going to impact him until it comes about.”

While he may have faced more obstacles than most as he learned how to work hard and persevere, Mari said Eli’s drive was astounding.

“He had a checklist he would turn the lights on in the morning,” Mari said. “We would walk the hogs. He fed and cleaned Babe’s skin and fluffed up his bed so he would have a nice place to stay.”

“This experience has been awesome,” Olivia said. “If I wouldn’t have done this, I don’t think anyone would have. Maybe this will lead the way for others to help others do what I’ve done.”

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