By Suzy Kridner
NEW SMYRNA BEACH - Boo Boo Cow nearly died giving birth to her first calf last year.
Though it was a long road back to health, she survived, and now her owner Cathy Bair has started a foundation, in Boo Boo's honor, to provide hooded sweatshirts to homeless children in Volusia County.
And the hoodies couldn't have come at a better time, Sue Hofstrand, counseling director at Taylor Middle High School in Pierson, said last week.
The school has 12 homeless students right now and "we gave them the sweatshirts today (Nov. 1), which came at a good time with the morning chill," she said.
"Sweatshirts are something the students wear a lot," she said. "We can always use more sweatshirts and also other items with the holidays coming."
Taylor Middle High and Pierson Elementary are just two of several schools Ms. Bair has supplied with hoodies.
That Boo Boo Cow is still alive is a miracle, said Ms. Bair, a city girl from Chicago who moved to the country here in 1979.
She is an accountant and since 1999 has had a cow calf operation with her husband, Joe.
"I keep the moms and one bull and sell the calves - about seven each year," Ms. Bair said.
Her favorite mom is Boo Boo Cow, a three-quarters Santa Gertrudis and one-quarter red angus.
"Since I witnessed a miracle with Boo Boo, who barely survived her first birth, I wanted to pay it forward," Ms. Bair said.
She started giving sweatshirts as a one-time project with the Woman's Council of the Port Orange/South Daytona Chamber of Commerce.
"I thought every one of my friends probably had a spare sweatshirt in their closet. I could clean them up and give them away."
"I cleaned out my closet and also purchased them when I saw them on sale," she said. "I bought as many as I could and gave them away."
"I was so excited. It made me feel so good that I could help out and it was an easy thing to be able to do," she said. Eventually she'd like to fund afterschool activities.
Ms. Bair is just thankful Boo Boo Cow survived the year-long recovery that began when she gave birth to a large calf. The calf didn't survive.
"When we pulled on the baby, we hit a nerve and paralyzed Boo Boo Cow. She was out in a field and we couldn't move her. The buzzards began attacking her."
"A Good Samaritan saw the cow in trouble and came to get us," she said. He told them they had to get the cow on her feet in 24 hours and out of the hot sun."
Ms. Bair said the Good Samaritan, Skip Bessette, was on his way to check on his horses so he helped the Bairs set up a temporary corral with a tarp over it.
"Boo Boo couldn't move so I put straps around her and left her in the corral.
"She was getting more dehydrated but Boo Boo Cow kept trying to get up. She tried so hard she had sores on her side," Ms. Bair said.
She fed Boo Boo Cow medicine in a water bottle and checked on her every hour.
Just when she didn't know what else to do, Skip the Good Samaritan stopped to check on Boo Boo.
"I thought she was on her last legs," Ms. Bair said.
Mr. Bessette got the cow up on her knees and with the help of a tractor, they got her into the barn, Ms. Bair said.
"Skip would come by three or four times a day when he was coming to feed his horses," she said. "Boo Boo Cow couldn't do anything but sit on her knees. Between the two of us, we cleaned her up and kept working with her."
Four weeks later, a veterinarian said Boo Boo could stand again and "that's all I needed to hear." Boo Boo Cow was by then half of her body weight.
She had radial nerve damage on her leg, so that when she stood up after four weeks, she was a three-legged cow, Ms. Bair said.
"I thought she wasn't going to make it," Ms. Bair said. "It looked like she had given up. But the next morning she was OK.""Her niece renamed the cow Boo Boo because of all the injuries she got when she was out in the field, Ms. Bair said.
She is going through the process of forming a 501c3, so donations to the Boo Boo Cow Foundation can be tax deductible.
The foundation's mission is to provide sweatshirts to homeless school children, she said. Last year alone, there were 2,300 homeless students in Volusia County.
Donations can be sent to Cathy A. Bair c/o Boo Boo Cow Foundation, 360 Spring Forest Drive, New Smyrna Beach, Fl 32168. For more information, call (386) 426-4353.