One 4-H member refuses to quit in face of adversity

Author: Kristy


With a barely perceptible limp and a no-nonsense expression on his youthful face, Dawson Evertson led 1,200 pounds of stubborn beef around the cattle arena Friday at the Albany County Fair.

Tugging at the steer’s halter, he set the unruly beast in line and fought to keep it there. The steers being shown on either side of the pair responded with aggravation to the performance.

In the end, Dawson’s steer placed second to last. Although visibly disappointed, the boy held his chin high as he exited Friday’s showmanship trial with a worsening limp and an ornery animal.

Six days prior, the 13-year-old was parking his friend’s dirt bike when the throttle stuck, throwing him into the side of a skid steer loading bucket, said Dawson’s mother, Dana Petersen. A bolt protruding from the bucket punched a 2-inch-by-2.5-inch hole into Dawson’s thigh, Petersen said. She added the wound was deep enough to swallow half the doctor’s finger as he cleaned it out.

The gash required six loose stitches to allow contamination to drain, because the doctors were concerned about the risk of infection, Petersen said. She explained the skid steer had recently been used to move manure, which contaminated the laceration. Until Wednesday, Dawson used crutches to help him get around.

During the showmanship trial, Dawson’s Angus cross, White Lightning, head-butted the hurt leg, causing the boy great pain and requiring the wound to be re-bandaged, Petersen said.

However, Dawson, refused to withdraw from the fair, determined to finish what he had started.

“I didn’t want to let my parents down,” Dawson said. “I didn’t want to give up.”

This wasn’t the first time he chose to face adversity head on. Petersen said earlier this year, Dawson’s prize steer died of unknown causes. But, again, he refused to withdraw from the show, entering White Lightning instead.

Doctors of veterinarian medicine, Petersen and her husband, David Evertson, moved to Laramie 17 years ago. They own and operate Alpine Animal Hospital and Laramie All Pet Clinic.

“He’s grown up at the clinic,” Petersen said. “He’s got a good work ethic and has always had a soft spot for the animals.”

Born and raised in Laramie, Dawson said he spends most of his time outdoors. Beside showing livestock with the 4-H Club and riding dirt bikes, he said he enjoys trapshooting, a marksman sport involving shotguns and clay targets. His love for animals was inspired by his parents, and he puts his show earnings into a college fund in hopes of becoming a veterinarian too, Dawson said.

About an hour after seeing to his wound, Dawson guided White Lightning back into the arena for the market show. The steer was more amenable this go around, and acted almost apologetically toward the wheat-haired boy leading him. Although he didn’t place in the top three, Dawson smiled proudly as he made his way back to the holding pens.

He confided if it weren’t for the show he wouldn’t have given up his crutches this soon.

“Everyone was doing my stuff for me,” Dawson said. “I wanted to help. I wanted to do my own work.”

Even after White Lightning’s poor performance and the headbutting incident, Dawson found no blame in the animal. Pushing his glasses up his nose, the boy stroked White Lightning with a brush and excused the behavior as nothing more than being playful.

While his brothers, Dax and Devon, played with other children and zipped about the barn seeking new adventure, Dawson focused on removing hair products from White Lightning’s fur.

In a quiet, thoughtful voice, he explained he wants to know as much about livestock as possible, so that he can grow up, own a ranch and be a veterinarian like his parents.

Currently, Dawson purchases his show steers paying close attention to if “they have lots of hair; legs are good, no dips in their back and big butts.”

But next year, he is hoping to start raising his own, so he can win the “Grand Champion” title at the fair. He said he has been holding out for some Belted Galloways, because they are a rare breed with good meat that “look real cool.”

Dawson said because the best thing about showing livestock is “getting ‘em ready and seeing your hard work pay off.”

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