Elwood’s kindness earns him recognition
January 31, 2018
Wiley Elwood has won a special award.
The Reliance, S.D. youth won the Marlow Jurisch Memorial Award at the Western Junior Livestock Show in Rapid City on October 7.
The award, given in honor of Jurisch, goes to someone who is helpful, kind to fellow competitors, has good manners, and demonstrates good sportsmanship while showing.
Show committee members anonymously walk through the barns, observing kids' behavior, then choose one recipient for each species.
Wiley, the son of April Reis and Danny Elwood, was in Rapid City showing his heifer, steer, and dairy goats.
This is the second year Wiley has shown at the Western Junior show, but he doesn't remember a lot of last year's show.
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The ten-year-old is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, suffered in September of last year when he fell off a creep feeder and hit his head, causing a seizure and bleeding from an ear.
His mother picked him up, and passed him over the fence to her brother, Wiley's uncle, who transported him to the Chamberlain hospital. At Chamberlain, they flew him on to a Sioux Falls hospital, where it was determined he had a brain bleed and skull fracture.
The brain injury caused him to have poor balance, trip over his feet, be unable to withstand loud noises, commotion and activity, and not able to go to school. He wanted to show at the Western Junior so bad, he worked himself up about it. So his mom made a guarded area – what they called a "Wiley cave" – in a stall, where he was sheltered from too much activity. His 4-H friends would take turns sitting with him, keeping him company.
Wiley had been given a goat by his aunt, and he insisted on showing it. His mom worried the goat would jump and hit Wiley in the head. But she relented, letting a family friend hold his belt loop so he wouldn't fall, and "away they went," April said, in the show ring.
He wasn't allowed to go to school for a month, then he gradually worked back into it, with half days, then days in the classroom without school work. It took three months till he was able to attend full days of school and do the work.
So this year, when he was able to show, he was thrilled. Wiley took an active interest in washing and fitting his heifer and steer. While everybody else hurried through washing their animals, Wiley's got a half hour bath. He wanted to learn every aspect of preparing his animal, how to lead it correctly, fit legs, and blow dry it. His favorite part is getting them ready. His steer, with whom he didn't get to bond because of his accident, wasn't his favorite, because "he's kind of mean," Wiley said. But his heifer was his favorite. "She was really nice. I've never had a calf that nice."
Wiley is pretty easy going, but not when it comes to fitting his animals. "I like that part, but I don't want anybody else touching my calf. I like doing it myself."
He exhibited all the traits that earned him the Marlow Jurisch award at this year's show, helping wash his sisters' calves and goats, and cleaning out stalls, the hardest part of it all.
He also showed his sisters' and cousin's animals at this year's show on sale day, when they had to leave for other activities. He showed five futurity steers, his sisters' meat goat and sheep, and his cousin's steer.
He competes in rodeo, and this summer got bucked off a horse, which nearly gave his mom a heart attack, she said. His parents try not to limit him too much, and eventually, he'll be back to full time activity. The brain injury still causes headaches and he runs down faster than normal, but other than that, he's back to where he was.
When he grows up, he wants to be a rancher, with "random animals," he said, including "maybe pigs, sheep, chickens, beef cattle, goats and horses."
His parents are proud of him winning the Marlow Jurisch award, but overcoming his traumatic brain injury is also a win.
April relates a story from a few weeks ago, when someone asked him, "aren't you the kid that fell off the creep feeder? How did that turn out?" Wiley had a simple answer: "I won."
In addition to Wiley, April Reis and her husband Danny Elwood have three daughters: Haleigh, fourteen, Keeleigh, twelve, and Oakleigh, who is seven. Wiley is in the fifth grade at Chamberlain School.
The Marlow Jurisch Memorial Award is in its third year; Jurisch, who lived near Scenic, S.D., passed away in 2015.
His daughter, Ruth Jurisch Filipek, established the award because of her dad's love for 4-H and youth and his strong beliefs in emotional maturity. Ruth and her seven siblings grew up poor, but that didn't stop them. Her dad told her, "Ruthie, you might not have the best calf out there (in the show ring), but you go out there and be proud and be responsible and you'll get somewhere."
"He always put forth extra effort for the (4-H) kids so they could better themselves," Filipek said. Her dad believed in "integrity, responsibility, and the will and desire to finish a job."
Recipients of the award also receive a monetary prize; the amount varies year to year, depending on the funding Filipek receives.
Wiley Elwood is one of four recipients of the Marlow Jurisch award, given to a Western Junior livestock show-person for their kindness, helpfulness, and good sportsmanship while showing.
Wiley and Ruth: Ruth Jurisch Filipek, one of Marlow Jurisch's children, poses with Wiley Elwood. Filipek founded the award to honor her dad in 2015, a few weeks after he passed. Photo by Ruth Filipek.
Wiley, a fifth grade student at Chamberlain Elementary School, showed a heifer, steer, and dairy goats at this year's Western Junior Livestock Show.