Grand Champion Swine to help local family
Snyder knew he wanted to donate the proceeds of selling an animal at Friday's livestock auction to Sobina's family to help with medical costs. He really didn't know what animal he was going to donate but after his lamb and pig both took home top honors logic seemed to reign in his final decision. "Not everyone likes lamb, but I don't think I've met a single person that doesn't like bacon or ham," he said.
Snyder is hoping the 276-pound prize swine will be able to help out Gabe and his family.
Snyder said there is a group of people planning to bid on the pig. If they win the bidding the pig will then be donated to a local food bank once it is processed, further adding to helping others. If someone else wins the bidding battle, it will be their choice what happens with the animal. Regardless of the outcome, the money will be a donation to the Sobinas.
Synder knows the Oil City family has a lot of expenses coming up with treatments and traveling back and forth to Pittsburgh five days a week. "A penny is a penny, a dollar a dollar. Anything to them will be helpful," he said.
To generate interest in the effort, Snyder posted the above image on social media Thursday afternoon. The post also include pictures of Gabe smiling with the award-winning hog as well as two phrases that have become synonymous with Gabe's battle - #downwiththanos and #GabeStrong.
About three weeks ago Gabe, who had been suffering with some headaches and nausea began also experiencing double vision. His mother Kerri took him to the doctor as her husband David prepared to photograph a wedding for a client.
"To get that phone call is every parent's nightmare," said David Sobina. His wife called him to say Gabe had to be taken to the Pittsburgh Children's Hospital because he had a mass on his brain. David called the bride and apologized but he had to be with his son. She was understanding. "I was a basket case," he said.
The Sobinas stayed in Pittsburgh for nine days. Gabe was hooked up to tubes and machines and had an operation to get a biopsy. "It was pretty terrible to see (Gabe) going through this," David said. They learned Gabe's cancer was a High Grade Gliomas, and aggressive inoperable cancer.
Gabe's treatment plan is to try to shrink the tumor through 33 bouts of radiation over the next six weeks likely to be followed by chemotherapy. This means the Sobinas will be travelling back and forth to Pittsburgh every day of the week for Gabe's treatments for more than a month. "The first five hours of every day will be spent getting Gabe what he needs," David said about the round-trip process needed for the daily 20-minute treatment.
The family, which also includes 16-year-old Grace, has made adjustments to help Gabe keep his treatment schedule. Kerri took a leave of absence from her job and David will continue to work his photography studio as much as he can.
David Sobina said the outpouring from the community has been overwhelming but much appreciated. People he doesn't know have shown up with meals and started fundraisers. Several people have shared stories of encouragement and hope. "It's amazing how every is so good-hearted to help strangers," David said. "It really changes your perspective."
All the support is helping the Sobina's keeping their focus on their young superhero.
"Our mindset has shifted from 'why is this happening to us,' to taking it one day at a time and keep fighting for Gabe," David said.
"He has been so incredible and brave," David said of his son. "He is on a mission to beat this."
As for Snyder, he recognizes many people are facing scary times right now and what the Sobinas are going through is even worse. "You're supposed to help people out when you can," he said.
Anyone who would like to make a donation towards the sale of Snyder's pig can call United Way of Venango County director Will Price at 814-673-2064. Price is helping Snyder who is his nephew in this effort. Snyder says your name or business name will be read at the auction for your donation.