James might seem like a funny name for a goat, until you consider that his last name is Baaand, James Baaand.
James spent his day Friday being gifted to people across Spokane as part of the annual Wishing Star Foundation’s “goating” fundraiser. People pay $50 to send a goat to an unsuspecting friend and then that person has to make a donation in order to send the goat to someone else.
Deanne Stevenson with Web.com bought a goat visit for her boss, director of sales operations Heather Sweet. The mood at the office had been somber recently after some employees were laid off, Stevenson said.
“She’s been kind of sad about it, and I thought this would lift up her mood,” Stevenson said. “She’s a wonderful lady.”
James, who is two weeks old, seemed OK with the idea of being held and petted. Sweet took him out of her office to show him off to her employees, who flocked around her to take pictures and stroke James’ soft fur.
After about 15 minutes of smiling and cradling James, Sweet handed him back. “Thanks, guys,” she said. “It was fun.”
The team of volunteers who brought James all work for ENGIE Insight, formerly Ecova. Paul Reynolds said he worked as a goating volunteer two years ago and convinced several of his co-workers to join him this year.
“It’s fun,” he said. “Just look at the mood. It brings people together.”
Though James’ next trip was already paid for, several people approached the Wishing Star volunteers and gave extra donations.
That doesn’t surprise Executive Director Dan Curley. “We just see such amazing generosity from people,” he said.
Wishing Star has been doing the goat fundraiser for 13 years. The organization grants wishes to youth ages 3-21 who have life-threatening conditions. The Spokane Wishing Star chapter, which also includes areas as far away as the Tri-Cities, usually grants about 40 wishes a year.
The money donated during the goat fundraiser is used to grant those wishes. One of this year’s recipients will be Caleb, an 11-year-old with cerebral palsy who has already had four major surgeries. Wishing Star will be modifying his home to allow better wheelchair accessibility.
The goat fundraiser usually brings in between $25,000 and $40,000 in donations. Curley said this year’s collection should be on the higher side because they had 50 teams of volunteers in the community, with 10 teams working each day of the five-day event.
“People have so much fun playing this joke on their friends,” he said. “It becomes contagious.”
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