Bartow Feed Store Collecting Donations For Local Youth Who Lost Father To COVID
by James Coulter
Florida Farm And Ranch Supply in Bartow is collecting a feed fund for the show cattle of two local youths after their father tragically passed away from COVID-19.
Tracy Hilleshiem tragically lost his battle against COVID on Aug. 21 after spending nearly a week in the hospital. Both his children, Titus and Trinity, have ongoing cattle show projects that he helped them with before his passing.
“A few years ago when Titus began his journey raising and showing cattle, Tracy was as proud as he could be,” read an online flyer from Florida Farm and Ranch Supply. “He was very involved with the projects. He did all he could have to have their projects be successful. In 2020, Titus was the reserve championin the carcass contest. As a community, we want to take the stress of feed off his wife to ensure these kids are able to finish out the projects and be competitive.”
To ensure these children are able to feed their show cattle and finish their projects successfully, Florida Farm and Ranch Supply in Bartow has set up an account to assist them with their feed expenses. Donations can be made in store, mailed via check, or paid over the phone via card.
“I feel it is something the community should pull together and help out the family,” said
Brad Babicz, general manager for Florida Feed and Ranch Supply. “All the communities are struggling with COVID right now. And it seems to be surging and hitting some people harder than others, and we try to do what we can to help people the best that we can.”
Babicz has known Tracy and his family for a long time. They have been longtime customers at his store, and their children attend the same school and participate in the same youth sports teams as his children. He understands that Tracy had been the breadwinner for the family, so his absence would only make it harder for his children to complete their cattle projects.
“Titus plays balls at the same ballpark as my kids,” Babicz said. “They play baseball, and Tracy was a coach there…as a small community we have all been around the area for the longest time, and it is good family, good people, good kids, and we try to do what we can for them.”
Upon learning about Tracy’s passing, Babicz brainstormed ways to assist his family during their time of need. He decided to set up a fund at his store where people could make donations to cover the feed expenses of his children and their cattle projects.
“It just started a day ago when we announced on Facebook and we had donations,” he said. “It is going well, anything anyone can give will help, small or big, there is nothing too small to help.”
The Show Cattle Feed Fund for Titus and Trinity is being hosted at the Florida Farm and Ranch Supply Store, located at 2975 FL-60, Bartow, FL 33830. Donations can be made at the store, over the phone via credit or debit card, or by check via mail. For more information, call 863-533-1814, or visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/FloridaFarmandRanchSupply/