Keep them dogies rollin'
A herd of about 100 exhausted black cow calf pairs plodded down dusty Saline County back roads Saturday, working their way from Marshall Junction to the Mull family farm near Malta Bend with about 130 cowboys and girls rallied behind them.
For the cows, it was a 20 mile marathon that they weren't quite prepared for. For the cowpokes, it was a chance to honor the memory of young man in an ol' fashioned western way.
Four months ago, Houston Elliott Mull, 15-year-old son of Robin and Brenda Mull, was involved in a automotive accident which ultimately took his life. Houston was a member of FFA and 4-H, and to help keep his memory alive, his parents started the Houston E. Mull Scholarship Fund, auctioning Houston's FFA steer for the starting funds. The steer alone brought $9,500, with contributions continuing to follow.
On July 5, radio personality Trent Loos did a tribute to Mulls on his program Loos Tales. The response he received was staggering. "I truly can't imagine a 15-year-old or a 50-year-old that had touched more people with a smile on his face," Loos said.
Meanwhile, Houston's father, Robin, had some cattle in a summer pasture south of Marshall. The cattle needed to be moved north to their winter home near Malta Bend, so, rather than truck them, Loos suggested a cattle drive to benefit the scholarship.
"My butt hurts. I've been riding a horse," Becky Platner said, laughing as she dismounted for lunch Saturday. Platner was one of the many who had put in their contribution and was pushing the cattle along their path on Nov. 6.
Families put in $100 to the scholarship for the chance to tumble along with the cows. In the end, the riders outnumbered the cattle.
"It's been entertaining," Gene Foster of Marshall said, biting into a ham sandwich. Foster said he's always worked with cattle and he wasn't going to pass on the chance to do it for a good cause. "I've been doing this all my life. ... Why not here?"
The cattle weren't up to the trip, taking a breather on the land of a local rider, about three fourths of the way through the journey, while the drivers pushed on for the final destination.
More than 300 people joined the family to celebrate the day and the life of Houston Mull at the farm. Duane Toews recited poetry he had written for the occasion, and folk singer K.J. from Pennsylvania flew to Marshall, singing a song she wrote on the plane for Houston.
"In an era when we spend so much time thinking about what's wrong with life and wrong with the world, it was exhilarating spending a day thinking about what is right," Loos said. "It truly defined what the spirit of America is."
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