When I returned to Kewanee, I began work back at Caldwells. By this time, I was started going to quite a few of the jackpot shows in the midwest with them. Through working for Todd, I started to meet a whole lot more people and was beginning to get noticed as being able to clip and fit. That fall, I was asked to make my first trip to NAILE, Kansas City, and Denver working for larger show strings. Although I had been to KC and Louisville in the past, it was much more rewarding to go work for a notable outfit and get paid for it. Ever since then, it has been one show after another.
As I sit here typing this today, I am very proud of what I have accomplished and how far I have come in this industry. I am equally greatful for folks like Dan Hoge, Lee Denzer, who saw a young man witth a passion maybe for not judging, but livestock in general and helped guide me down the path I chose. Todd Caldwell(sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little when I typed that I was thankful for him. LOL, just kidding), for taking the time to teach me the business and how to coordinate things, not just tell me do it. And for always being that smartass mentor that I can call and ask questions, now I just have to get him to answer his phone sometimes. Kirk Stierwalt, one of my all time best friends, for giving me the knowledge that I needed to chase a dream. Ron Martin and Kevin Newman, for being local mentors to me and really showing me how to "run" cows. There are a whole slew of others that I could list, but I would inevitably forget someone. These are the folks that took a chance on me and helped mold into the type of person within this industry that I am, and for that I am eternally grateful. I hope they are proud of a kid from Fortville, In. Proud of a kid that the best he ever did was have Res. Grand at his county fair once, and now, is employed by Sullivan Supply as the Eastern Representative for Stock Show University and one of the lead professors for this program. Proud of a kid that is running a cattle operation of his own, raising and selling cattle that compete at the local, state, and national level. Proud of a kid, who is now a husband and a father raising the next generation of youth in livestock. I hope they are proud.
I hope this was not to long winded. I hope no one thinks that I am typing this just to name drop others or to put myself on a pedistal. That is not the intention at all. I think sometimes you have to sit back and think about the saying "You can't get where your going, unless you know where you've been". These people along with my family are the ones that have helped mold me into the person I am today.
And now, at this stage of my life, my wife Beth, and step-son Kendall are helping to shape me again. They are helping to shape me and challenge me daily to be the best husband and father I can be. They challenge me to provide the best life possible for us as a family and to give back to an industry that has done so much for me. They are not the only ones who challenge me. For the first time ever, Vansickle Cattle Co. has an employee besides mom, dad, Beth and myself. Nathan "Shortear" Apple works for us daily after school mostly taking care of the show/sale cattle, but also helping me with general work. Shortear is an awesome hand, but there are days that he challenges me to not want to grab him by his 17 year old neck and strangle him. But, I sit back and remember what I was like at that age.