BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – It takes hard work for Landon Donley, 14, to groom, feed, water, and care for a 1,100-pound steer. Now he is taking care of two.

“It’s a lot. I have my moments here and there, I struggle a little bit. Sometimes, it’s good to have comfort here,” he said.

His increased responsibility was born through tragedy. His brother, Todd Donley, 17, of Poinciana, died in a car crash on Hinson Avenue East in Haines City on Jan. 6.

“You can feel that he’s with us but at the same time, he’s not there,” said Donley.

Todd Donley
Courtesy: Heather Smith

Todd Donley, one of five brothers, played baseball and football, was an active member of the Future Farmer Association and a good student.

“He’s any parent’s dream of a son, just a perfect kid. Never did anything wrong. Always made straight A’s,” said Cary Lightsey, president of Lightsey Cattle Company in Lake Wales.

Lightsey sold steers to the teenager for several years.

According to Lightsey, Donley’s family was driving behind Donley when his car crashed.

Todd Donley was set to show his steer, “DK Metcalf,” named after the football player, at the 75th annual Polk County Youth Fair in Bartow this week.

Instead, his brother, Landon, will show both their steers on Thursday.

“I’m looking forward to it but at the same time, it’s probably going to break me down,” said Landon.

On Friday, the steers go up for auction.

“DK Metcalf”

When the news of Todd’s untimely death started circulating, Lightsey’s phone started ringing.

Polk County is made up of several smaller, tight-knit, agriculture-centered communities, he described.

“They all got big hearts and they saw what happened,” he said. “It’s overwhelming. If you knew this young man, you would want to come out.”

Donations started pouring in to bid on “DK Metcalf” at a high price.

Lightsey said he has enough money to bid at more than $25 a pound, with the expectation it will grow to $30 per pound.

A steer like Donley’s would typically go for $3 per pound, he said.

At 1,146 pounds, Donley’s family could receive nearly $35,000 for the steer.

“It makes you feel warm in your heart. It can get hard but at the same time, it kind of makes you feel good,” said Landon.

The auction will be held Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Polk County Youth Fair in Bartow.