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crImagine this….you wake up in the wee hours of the night to smell smoke, you discover that your house is on fire, and your grandchild is trapped in her bedroom, with no way to escape.  What would you do?

This is exactly the scenario Patricia Stiles of Waverly Jerseys found herself in this past Monday morning.  Without regard for her own life, she ran through the fire to t reach her seven-year-old granddaughter Reese Burdette.  Both are now battling for their lives.

The fire, which apparently started with an electrical cord, quickly spread through the two-story home of Patricia and Mike Stiles at Waverly Farm Jerseys of Clear Brook, Virginia.  Reese and her sister, 3 year old Brinkley Burdette, were staying at their grandparents’ home for the weekend.  They are the daughters of Claire and Justin Burdette of the Holstein farm Windy Knoll View, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.  Mike Stiles went to Brinkley’s room and grabbed her, and Patricia Stiles went to Reese’s bedroom — where the fire originated — to get her.  Mike and Brinkley escaped the fire unharmed.  Both Reese and Patricia were badly burned and suffered smoke inhalation.  Patricia was airlifted to MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Reese was airlifted to Johns Hopkins Hospital.  35% of Reese’s body has second- and third-degree burns, but “She is stronger than we could ever believe and definitely a fighter!” comments Reese’s father.  Doctors have estimated she will need at least 15 to 30 surgeries over the next few months – many for skin grafting.  Reese is a brave, strong little girl.  She is quickly winning the hearts of nurses and doctors.  The doctors at Johns Hopkins are optimistic about where she is right now, but they are taking it day to day.  Thanks to the heroic efforts of her grandmother.

reese burdette

The outlook for Patricia is not as optimistic, but her vitals are good and that is positive news.  Patricia’s lungs are inflamed and about 27 percent of her body — mostly her face, arms, hands and feet — have suffered mostly third-degree burns.  Doctors are hopeful about both Patricia and Reese, but say it will be a long recovery.  The doctor was very ‘frank’ with the family in explaining that they still need ‘many prayers, a little luck and his best work’ for Patricia to pull through this.  So please, please continue to pray for Patricia and Reese.  Patricia is truly a hero because she has always said she would put her life before her grandkids, and she did exactly that. (Read more:  Patricia Stiles –Dairy Farmer, Grandmother, Hero, Fighting for Her Life!)

Resse's mothers day card for Claire

Resse’s mothers day card for Claire

If the names Justin Burdette and Windy Knoll View seem familiar, that is because Justin was the Judge at this past year’s World Dairy Expo.  (Read more: World Dairy Expo 2013 Holstein Show Preview – Everything You Need To Know To Get Ready For the Show and World Dairy Expo 2013 Holstein Show Results)  Known for their excellent breeding program, they have bred more than 150 Excellent Holsteins carrying the Windy Knoll View prefix, including two 96-point, four 95-point, and twelve 94-point animals.  Their farm has won numerous Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor awards, including the 2006 World Dairy Expo Premier Breeder Award, which I am sure Justin, would trade in a heartbeat for the safe recovery of his daughter and mother in law.

Justin Burdette awarding Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn Grand Champion honors at the 2013 World Dairy Expo Holstein Show

Andrea Crowe

Since news of this tragic event, first broke (Patricia Stiles –Dairy Farmer, Grandmother, Hero, Fighting for Her Life!) the outpouring of support from the Dairy community has been extremely heartwarming.  One thing that has proven itself repeatedly is that, when tragedy strikes a member of the dairy community, the community steps up to support their members.  Since starting the Bullvine, we have seen this several times.  A recent example of the strength of the dairy community was when Andrea Crowe from Hi-Calibre Holstein in Atlantic Canada was battling cancer.  (Read more:  It’s Time To Pull Together and Support One of Our Own, Friends of Andrea Crowe Fundraiser Raises over $83,000 and Who Is Going To Miss You When You Die?)  Though Andrea ultimately lost her battle to this rare cancer, the outpouring of support for Andrea from around the world was outstanding and even in her passing the dairy community has not forgotten her with the introduction of a special award to be awarded each year at the Royal Winter Fair.  (Read more:  Andrea Crowe – Passionate till the end and Joel Phoenix Named 2013 Andrea Crowe Achievement Award)

Tragic losses are not new to the dairy community.  From barn roofs collapsing under the pressure from snow (Read more:  Barn Roofs: The Bigger the snow… the Harder the Fall) to whole herds being lost to fires (Read more: 100 cattle dead after barn fire at Markvale Holsteins, Fire strikes one of Ontario’s largest dairies – London Dairy Farms and 150 Cows Dead in Quebec Barn Fire). Fires have certainly been devastating to members of the dairy community.  One constant, however, is the way the dairy community has rallied around the farmers who have suffered such great loss.  Clarence Marcus of Markvale Holsteins who lost his herd to a fire last July (Read more: Your Barn Is On Fire!) tells us how amazed they are at the way the dairy community came to their aid in a time of need.  Producers from around the world were offering support to Clarence and his family, and thanks to that support and the great character of the Macrus family, they will soon be milking in their rebuilt barns (Watch for more on this coming soon).

Perhaps the things that break our hearts are the very things that serve to open them.

From baby calves that die seemingly for no reason to cherished cattle that die unexpectedly, there is no shortage of heartbreak in being a dairy farmer.  (Read more:  The Magic of Francesca and 8 of the greatest Dairy Love Stories in the World)  Facing these issues on a reoccurring basis has made the dairy community strong and quick to support their fellow members whenever the need arises.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Life’s most painful experiences are the very circumstances that introduce us to who we really are.  During easy times, we can be caught up in shallow pursuits and pleasures.  Hard times cause us to dig deeper.  Less meaningful concerns fall aside, and we awaken to what’s truly important.  Family, friends, and relationships are all that matters.  Whatever curve balls life throws at them, the dairy community instantly steps up with prayers, support, and encouragement for their members.  That is when the dairy community is at its best.

Those wanting to show their support can do one of the following:

  • Helping Heroes: Fundraiser to Support the Stiles & Burdette Families
  • To contribute to Patricia and Reese’s Fund please Click HERE.
  • Lets show Reese Burdette how much we are thinking and praying for her with a card shower! Here is her address: John Hopkins Hospital, 1800 Orleans Street , Baltimore , MD. 21287 Attn: Reese Burdette, Bloomberg 4- South Room # 25
  • Bank account set up for Patricia Stiles and Reese Burdette. Mail checks to Capital One Bank 12806 Shank Farm Way Hagerstown , Maryland 21742. Place the names Patricia Stiles and Reese Burdette in the memo of check.

Please like and share this article to help support the family and spread the word about how amazing the dairy community is.



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