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A true Grand Champion

Melissa Nichols for Progressive Cattleman Published on 19 November 2018
Case Beken and family with Casper the Grand Champion

Case Beken, a 14-year-old boy from Weimer, Texas, grew up blind after battling a brain tumor as a toddler but never let his lack of sight hold him back, learning how to hunt and fish and enjoy life to the fullest.

His motto was, “Walk by faith, not by sight,” from 2 Corinthians 5:7 New King James Version. Beken used those deep words from the Good Book to guide him and inspire others. He would remind people that if he could hunt blind, they could do anything.

This past year, Beken started raising a steer to show at the county fair. He and the Charolais steer he named Casper spent a lot of time together, as any cattle-showing kid knows, feeding and walking Casper and training him to perform in the ring.

Beken attended the Texas School for the Blind in Austin about two hours away from home but would vigilantly work with Casper every weekend along with his job at a local steakhouse.

Upon returning home from school in May, Beken’s mom, Robin, noticed his speech was slurred and he didn’t seem like himself. At first, they thought he had possibly suffered a stroke but, after weeks of MRIs and tests, doctors found another tumor, this time too involved with the brain stem to be operable.

After learning he was terminal, finding someone to show Casper for him and finish his project was a top priority for Beken. Robin’s friend Monte Williams arranged for a friend and fellow livestock shower Kayden Mascheck to show Casper. Mascheck shows Red Brangus cattle and has won awards for showmanship across the country and was excited to help Beken show his steer. With only a few weeks to prepare, he began visiting Beken to work with Casper and get ready for the fair.

Robin and Case take Casper for a walkDays passed until Beken became weak and unable to speak much at all. When he did talk, he would remind his family how much he loved them and would miss them, and thank Williams for all he did for him and tell him he would miss rides out to the ranch to feed his steer.

On Sept. 7, Beken arrived at the Colorado County Fair in an ambulance fully equipped with emergency staff and waited ringside with his family to listen in and be a part of his steer’s big day. Before he and Casper entered the ring, Mascheck stopped at the ambulance to tell Beken he was going to do his very best.

The show barn was standing room only, packed with spectators from all over the area. Mascheck showed the “wheels off” Casper; the pair put on a nearly perfect performance. There was not a dry eye in the building when Casper got the infamous smack on the back and was named Grand Champion Steer at the Colorado County Fair.

Case and his dad, broghter Tim, mom Robin and family frind Monte Williams

In the minutes after the announcement, emotions overflowed. Beken wept tears of joy, and more tears filled the eyes of everyone else in attendance. In lieu of a backdrop picture, a photo was taken with Mascheck holding the steer in front of the ambulance packed with Beken and his family.

The next day, Casper headed to the livestock auction. The sale this year brought the largest buyers group in Colorado County history, with the amount initially raised from the sale totaling $52,200, with even more money coming in from add-ons and donations after the auction was complete. Additionally, a cake made by another child with cancer was auctioned off for $2,500, which was added to the funds.

Robin hugs CasperBeken was unable to be present for the sale. Within minutes of the sale being complete, he began to go downhill. He was transported to the local hospice in Victoria, Texas, where he gained his angel wings. Beken’s last wish was that something good would come from the sale of his steer, so he requested the proceeds from Casper’s sale be used to help other livestock kids in his community. Thanks to the generous sale and donations, the Case Beken Memorial Scholarship has been created to enable more youth in his county to show livestock.

Some may look at this story and see just the sad ending, but it is also possible to see the story of a young man who lived his last days through his steer. The two had such a bond some say his steer saw the world for Beken when he couldn’t see. Others look at Beken and see a huge source of inspiration – one who overcame so much and never complained, who reached for the sky and ended up in the heavens.

Beken’s friends recall he never met a stranger and would remember a person’s voice and be able to recall their name. While Beken has passed on, he continues to live on in the hearts of those in Colorado County, with his family and with his Casper, who was not sent to slaughter but instead returned to the farm to live out his days as a pet and a reminder of the boy who raised him.

Case would not want anyone to cry over this story but would remind them to take the problems they are facing and cast them aside, turn them over to God and never let anything stop them. When you look out into your pasture, know there is an angel in heaven watching over your cattle, one who can finally see them and loves each and every one of them. end mark

PHOTO 1: Case Beken and his family pose ringside with Casper and Mascheck after Grand Champion had been announced. Photo by Melissa Nichols.

PHOTO 2: Robin and Case taking Casper for a walk. Photo provided by Robin Beken.

PHOTO 3: Left to right: Case’s dad, Brad; brother Tim; mom, Robin; and family friend Monte Williams pictured around Case Beken in the ambulance. 

PHOTO 4: Robin hugging Casper after the show. Photos by Melissa Nichols.