When an 18-Year-Old’s Actions Spoke Louder than His Words

Gratitude Day 310

Mon., July 29, 2019

1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.

Remember the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words?”

Eighteen-year-old Grant Goodell took this adage to heart during the Eau Claire County Fair. His selfless actions during the fair’s livestock auction is something people will be speaking about for weeks. Not only did Grant’s actions create an $8,832 impact on one girl’s life; it has spoken volumes to an entire community. He reminds us that one small action can make a huge impact on a person’s life.

The story doesn’t begin with Grant; rather with his high school classmate, Tenley Walker. Just 25 days before their high school graduation, Tenley was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. After surgeries, tests and hospital stays, amazingly, Tenley was able to attend her high school graduation ceremony. Folks in the high school gymnasium held back tears as Tenley walked across the platform and received her diploma.

Shortly after this, Tenley began chemo and radiation treatments. Recently, she completed her first round of treatments. In mid-August, Tenley will be evaluated about their effectiveness.  

Grant and Tenley were not only high school classmates. They were also friends and served together as FFA officers. Grant says that Tenley has been an important part of his life. When he heard the awful news of Tenley’s diagnosis, he was hit hard. She has always helped him out and he hoped that someday, he would be able to repay this.

Eighteen-year-old Tenley Walker at the 2018 Eau Claire County Fair

At the 2018 Eau Claire County Fair, Tenley exhibited a market hog. This year, she didn’t. Nonetheless, Grant found a way to help his friend and teach others how to serve a friend and pay forward your blessings.

At this year’s country fair, Grant exhibited a market hog. He knew it would be sold in the livestock sale. Many 4-H and FFA kids sell livestock animals at fairs to raise money for post-high school education. Grant participates in the fair and livestock auction because he likes the experience of doing so with his friends. As the Saturday night livestock auction approached, Grant knew he wanted to do something different with the proceeds from his market hog.

Last year, Grant donated the meat from his hog to the local food pantry. This year, he decided to donate the entire proceeds from the sale of his pig to his friend, Tenley Walker. The money would help cover some of her medical expenses.  

After Grant explored this idea with a couple of guys, he decided that yes, he could do this. Upon sharing his idea with his parents, Michael and Rachel Goodell, they also got on board. Several businesses and individuals stepped forward and provided the financial backing to make this happen.

Grant’s hog weighed 276 pounds and sold for a whopping $32/lb. This means, Grant raised $8,832 for Tenley. Folks: this is nothing short of amazing.

An ecstatic Grant Goodell after his market hog sold for $32/lb. at the Eau Claire County Fair Livestock Sale

What inspired Grant to do this? Because he wanted to help a fellow teenager. He knew if the right people became part of this little project, it could have a huge impact. Yes, Grant has accomplished this goal.

What message would Grant love for other teens to learn from his action? “Life is not always about yourself,” Grant said. “Sometimes teens need to see how others have helped them. Look at your family and friends. What have they done for you? We can pay this forward and help someone else.”

Grant’s message is not just for teens. He wants to encourage everyone to know that, “Helping others doesn’t have to be about money or time or anything. It can be doing something small, like saying ‘thank you’ or helping someone out in a small way. These are the things that really make a difference,” Grant said.

Grant has been inspired by his grandparents, Glenn and Ardith Solsrud. They have supported the community of Augusta, WI, where Grant grew up. “I’ve watched my grandparents put so much into this community,” he said. “And now, my parents are doing the same thing.”

Michael, Grant’s dad, has been an inspiration to him. “When Dad donates money or time or something, he doesn’t want credit,” Grant says. “In fact, he doesn’t want anyone to know that he did it. This is a powerful message to me. He doesn’t want the glory. He just wants to help other people.”

Grant has been a little overwhelmed with the response of his action. In fact, he doesn’t really have words to articulate his feelings. “People I don’t know are coming up to me and thanking me for doing this. It has really given me perspective how one small action can impact and inspire other people,” Grant said.

The pronouncement in the New Testament is very clear: you have a gift to serve others. Go find it … and do it.

Representatives from some of the businesses and individuals who provided the financial backing for Grant’s wish to raise lots of money for Tenley’s medical expenses. Thanks for being part of Grant’s wish to help Tenley.

Grant’s choice to serve selflessly, humbly and follow the example he’s observed should inspire us. Eight businesses and families worked together to make it possible for Grant to raise a whole bunch of money for his friend, Tenley. When people get behind a joint but simple mission, powerful things can happen. People’s lives can be changed. It only happens when we decide to put into action ways that we can change the world, one person at a time. This is a common message for the youth programs of 4-H and FFA. This must be message for all humanity.

At times, I have been critical of this generation of teens for spending too much time on their phones, thinking too much of themselves and feeling entitled. Grant remind me that sometimes, my words should be kept to myself. Instead, I should focus on ways my actions can speak louder and more profoundly than anything I say. The messages I learned from 4-H and FFA are just as important in my life today as they were, well, a long time ago.

Thank you, Grant for discovering your gift and choosing to serve Tenley. You’ve taken the meaning of an old-fashioned adage and knocked it out of the park.  

For relearning the message of finding opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life in small and profound ways, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for placing it upon Grant’s heart a way that he could serve You and his teenage friend. May we discover ways today that we can let our actions speak louder than our words. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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