The (lamb) show must go on

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 10, 2003

ROME TOWNSHIP - Even though her lambs won second and fifth place in a market competition, Heather Wheeler had to watch the competition from the sidelines.

Wheeler, a 12-year-old Kitts Hill resident and eighth grader at Rock Hill Middle School, was injured June 29 while riding a horse in her family's ring. While riding too close to a fence, a cattle panel, which is a piece of eight gauge steel was driven into her leg, she said.

As a result, Wheeler received 42 stitches. Because a lamb kicking her during a show could remove the stitches, she was ordered by her physician to not show this year. Wheeler had worked with her lambs since the first part of April and was looking forward to showing them.

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However, disappointment and physical pain have not stopped Wheeler.

"I didn't cry," she said of the medical procedure that not only involved stitches but several injections. "I've trained myself. I was not always this way."

"It's hard to get around. I didn't get any crutches. The doctor said I was tough enough to walk on my own."

Karen Diamond, Wheeler's mother, was amazed by her daughter's strength.

"I would have screamed," she said of her daughter's injury and subsequent medical procedure. "It would have made me sick. If it were her sister, she would have jumped off the table."

Sixteen-year-old friend Rachel Payne and Wheeler's 17-year-old sister, Elizabeth Diamond showed her lambs, and Wheeler will still be able to sell them. The lamb Payne showed won fifth place and the one her sister showed won second.

Until then, Wheeler looks forward to Sunday when her stitches are removed. Her mother said she will celebrate by going swimming. Until then, Wheeler is slightly limping, but that is not going stop her and close friend Brianna "Bob" Hairston, also 12, from enjoying the fair rides and funnel cakes, her favorite parts of the fair.

"I would have freaked out," Hairston said of Wheeler's injury.

Hairston showed rabbits this year at the fair and said she was thinking of Wheeler as she did this.

"I said, 'Win one for me!'" Wheeler said.