4-H community rallies behind two families in tough times

·4 min read
Zachariah Stephens, older brother of the late Isiah Stephens, is pictured at one of the 4-H auctions at the 2022 Lenawee County Fair with Isiah's market Holstein and Isiah's best friend, Lucas Morse, holding the photo of Isiah, as well as, from left, Ashton Platt, Hailey Bennett (out of view), Trevor Lakatos and Carter Kiel. Several thousand dollars were raised in Isiah's memory at the auction.
Zachariah Stephens, older brother of the late Isiah Stephens, is pictured at one of the 4-H auctions at the 2022 Lenawee County Fair with Isiah's market Holstein and Isiah's best friend, Lucas Morse, holding the photo of Isiah, as well as, from left, Ashton Platt, Hailey Bennett (out of view), Trevor Lakatos and Carter Kiel. Several thousand dollars were raised in Isiah's memory at the auction.

Two families who are going through difficult times felt the support of the community last week at the 4-H Dairy Feeder Calf and Market Holstein auctions during the Lenawee County Fair.

An Addison family recently lost a teenage son to suicide, and a Sand Creek father, Kory Alcock, is in the hospital after having a heart attack and brain injury. Both families are involved in 4-H, and when people learned of their situations they came together through the auctions and contributed thousands of dollars to help

Pictured from left in this family portrait are the late Isiah Stephens, Kerry Keith, Lyndsay Stephens and Zachariah Stephens.
Pictured from left in this family portrait are the late Isiah Stephens, Kerry Keith, Lyndsay Stephens and Zachariah Stephens.

Isiah Stephens was a 15-year-old student-athlete at Addison High School and very active member of 4-H. He had a great sense of humor and always made it his priority to ensure others were having a good time. He also mentored other students in sports and 4-H. Isiah took his life June 1, just a week and a half before school let out for the summer.

He had been raising three 4-H projects with his brother Zachariah, 17: a dairy feeder calf, a market Holstein and a meat goat. The family kept the meat goat as a pet, but auctioned off the dairy feeder, June, and the market Holstein, Smokey, at the fair.

Zachariah Stephens, Isiah Stephens' older brother, center in plaid shirt, showed his Isiah's market Holstein and worked with him, completing all of the chores at fair for both his and his brother's animal in the beef barn.
Zachariah Stephens, Isiah Stephens' older brother, center in plaid shirt, showed his Isiah's market Holstein and worked with him, completing all of the chores at fair for both his and his brother's animal in the beef barn.

The animals brought in about $10,000 each during auction and then there were add-ons, which are ongoing. As of Tuesday, the amount raised with both animals combined was $43,915.87. All proceeds will go into a scholarship fund in Isiah’s name. The family plans on offering at least a first scholarship sometime in December for the spring semester. There may be multiple scholarships, the boys’ mother, Lyndsay, said.

Isiah was on the football, basketball and track teams at Addison High School. It was his sixth year in 4-H

“He was very happy, athletic, very positive, influencing others. He was a leader on his sports team, very competitive with his teammates, and encouraged them and encouraged other individuals in 4-H with their projects and trying to help them as much as he could with the knowledge he has gained over the years,” Lyndsay said.

John Birdwell hugs Zachariah Stephens at the 4-H auction at the 2022 Lenawee County Fair after helping contribute through the auction to a scholarship fund in Isiah's memory.
John Birdwell hugs Zachariah Stephens at the 4-H auction at the 2022 Lenawee County Fair after helping contribute through the auction to a scholarship fund in Isiah's memory.

There was no indication that there was anything wrong. If anything, Isiah was ever the jokester and cutup, always making those around him laugh and walk away feeling better for seeing him and being around him.

“No one in our family knew anything about depression or any issues and none of his friends knew anything, so it was a complete shock to us. He had never talked about it to any of us that there were any issues. So as far as we knew everything was OK with him,” Lyndsay said. “He was a smart aleck, and he would take things literally and do whatever he could to make sure he put a smile on your face. He was always joking and laughing and making sure that others had a good time. That was a priority for him.”

Ellie Woodcock, left, from Quaker Willing Workers. a classmate of Isiah Stephens' showed his dairy feeder calf, June, and worked with him after Stephens' death to prepare June for fair, completing all chores during fair week.
Ellie Woodcock, left, from Quaker Willing Workers. a classmate of Isiah Stephens' showed his dairy feeder calf, June, and worked with him after Stephens' death to prepare June for fair, completing all chores during fair week.

Isiah’s former cross country coach, Shane Morse, his wife, Jennifer, and their son, Lucas, who was Isiah’s best friend, are organizing the 3.2 Walk/Run for Mental Health that will take place during the Addison Heritage Festival Aug. 13. It’s 3.2 miles because 32 was Isiah’s number in school. The funds will go into supporting mental health programming in Addison schools.

Pictured standing from left are John Birdwell, Jake Neill, Craig Pelham, Zachariah Stephens and Isiah Stephens' best friend Lucas Morse, and, kneeling, Mike Neill, at the 4-H auction at the 2022 Lenawee County Fair where several supporters, including those pictured, contributed several thousand dollars toward a scholarship fund in Isiah Stephens' memory.
Pictured standing from left are John Birdwell, Jake Neill, Craig Pelham, Zachariah Stephens and Isiah Stephens' best friend Lucas Morse, and, kneeling, Mike Neill, at the 4-H auction at the 2022 Lenawee County Fair where several supporters, including those pictured, contributed several thousand dollars toward a scholarship fund in Isiah Stephens' memory.

Registration prior to the walk/run is $25. It's $30 the day of the event. To register, go to tinyurl.com/32mileswalkrun. Any questions can go to Shane at Addison_youth_basketball@yahoo.com.

Alcock family

The community also got behind the Alcock family of Sand Creek. The father, Kory, 49, suffered a heart attack and brain injury almost three weeks ago, and the mother, Jennifer, had to be at ProMedica Toledo Hospital with Kory during fair week, so the couple’s daughters, Mekeal, 15, and Kaitlyn, 16, had to show their fair projects on their own this year.

The Alcock family of Sand Creek — from left, Mekeal, Jennifer, Kory and Kaitlyn — are pictured.
The Alcock family of Sand Creek — from left, Mekeal, Jennifer, Kory and Kaitlyn — are pictured.

Kory is a farmer in Sand Creek. The two girls have been brought up in 4-H and sold a dairy feeder calf at auction last week. While the cows normally go for $300 to $600, theirs went for a total of $5,364.

“I told them, it’s not about the money. It's about the fact that everybody sees that you guys have been up at the fair by yourselves and you brought all of your projects up to the fair on your own and you guys have been at the fair tending to your animals on your own because your mom is at the hospital with your dad,” Jennifer said. “They’re showing appreciation to you two. That’s what a community and close family of friends do for each other.”

Mekeal Alcock of Sand Creek shows her dairy feeder calf, Archie, during the 2022 Lenawee County Fair.
Mekeal Alcock of Sand Creek shows her dairy feeder calf, Archie, during the 2022 Lenawee County Fair.

Kory was heavily sedated the first week after the heart attack because he had lost oxygen to his brain during the heart attack and had a previous brain injury nine years ago. Doctors took him off sedation last week and he is slowly recovering. He will be undergoing therapy and rehabilitation at Trinity Health St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.

“Of course, everybody is being simply amazing and if we need anything, we need is prayers because it’s between God and him to come out with whatever it’s going to be,” Jennifer said.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Telegram: 4-H community rallies behind two very special families