NEWCASTLE, Okla. – “If we didn’t stop him, he’d give away all the money he has,” Stacey Bonham said of her 11-year-old son, Baylor.
And that would be a significant amount, since Baylor deposited $106,000 in his bank account after showing his prize steer, Stripe.
The young member of First Baptist Church in Newcastle, Okla., is tithing on that money to his church.
Born into the cattle industry, Baylor has been in the “show” business since he was about 5.
“Both of our sons, Logan, now 18, and Baylor, started showing as soon as they could pull a steer by a halter,” Stacey said.
Baylor showed Stripe, the grand champion market steer at the National Western Stock Show in Denver last January, and 24 hours later, the 1,315-pound steer brought $106,000 on the auction floor.
Baylor Bonham holds tightly to his prize-winning steer as the animal faces the auction block.
Baylor, who weighs 80 pounds, was in the auction ring with Stripe, and when the amount hit $70,000, the audience rose in applause, frightening Stripe, who jerked and sent Baylor flying into the metal bar on the sale ring. But being the professional he is, Baylor jumped up and returned to center ring to complete the auction, which reached $100,000 before the auctioneer encouraged the $106,000 amount to commemorate 106 years of the National Western Stock Show.
When Baylor was interviewed after the auction, he said to a cheering crowd, “I came here to show and see what it was like so I could come back and show again next year, but it just worked out for me.”
His father Steve, an astute businessman, choked up when he came to the microphone, and according to his wife, was upset because he showed so much emotion in public.
“I told him he just showed people that he has a heart, and is a dad, not just a businessman,” Stacey said. “It was an amazing, memorable moment.”
Steve has been in the cattle industry since he was a teenager, and is a professional licensed auctioneer. He buys and sells show cattle nationwide, and hand selects them, checking to see if they are built right and can walk well, necessary characteristics for a show steer.
“I knew the first time I saw him, Stripe would be perfect on all four feet,” said Steve.
Stacey said her sons spend about two hours a day caring for the steers, brushing, rinsing and blow drying their hair and feeding them a structured diet that promotes good muscle-to-bone ratio.
“We buy pickup beds of shampoo from Sally Beauty Supply,” Stacey said. “The hair has to be long, fluffy and healthy. People can’t get over how much hair Stripe had and how soft it was.”
Fans of Stripe were able to see that soft hair up close as the steer participated in a long-standing tradition at the elegant Brown Derby Hotel in downtown Denver shortly before the auction.
Every year, the grand champion steer is paraded through the hotel lobby on red carpet, accompanied by music from a grand piano, to a makeshift pen where people can have their pictures taken with the prizewinner.
Stripe was somewhat special because only twice in the history of the Denver show has a steer brought more than $100,000, with the high being $110,000 in 2008. The last three years, the winners have brought between $50,000 and $60,000.
Stacey said Logan and Baylor work with four to six head of cattle each year. From participating in stock shows from October-January, they end up losing three of those.
The first time Baylor won significant money was in November of 2011 at a national show in Louisville, Ky., where he garnered $27,000.
When he was interviewed in the ring after that sale, he told reporters he was going to save some of the money for college, but he was going to give part of it to the children’s ministry at his church.
“That was totally off the cuff,” recalled Stacey. “I had no idea it was coming. It took me to tears.”
When the family returned from Kentucky, Stacey took Baylor to visit with the church’s children’s minister Ronda Pinkerton. Baylor, who was saved and baptized at First Baptist Newcastle when he was 8, told her he would like his tithe money to be used to help kids who aren’t able to go to summer camp because they can’t afford it, and also to be used for fees for Upward Basketball and for tennis shoes for those who needed them.
“This time, Baylor and the rest of the family want the money to be used where it is most needed,” Stacey said. “We are getting ready to go into phase III of upgrading the church facilities, so we are going to see if they would rather put the money from his second win into the building program.”
Stacey said that since Baylor is only 11, she assumes he will have a long career and will frequently have winnings on which to tithe to his church.
“Baylor has been so often in the limelight that his intentions with his winnings have become public knowledge, and I think that is a good witness to other kids,” she said. “He has the biggest heart you’ve ever seen. I promise you Baylor would give every dime of it away if you let him.”
Stacey added that God has blessed through the whole ordeal.
“Sometimes I have guilt that things have gone so well.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dana Williamson is associate editor of The Baptist Messenger, newsjournal of the Oklahoma Baptist Convention.)