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Ligonier Valley middle-schooler wins Excela essay contest

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Bill Pribisco | for the Ligonier Echo
Laura Sproull (left) and Mary Moximchalk (right) from Excela Health present the billboard award to Madelynn Lancashire. WithLancashire is her grandmother Jayne Lancashire and father Jason Lancashire. photo taken 5/7/2014 Ligonier middle school Bill Pribisco l Ligonier Echo

Ligonier Valley Middle School is one of 11 schools to participate in Excela Health's school-based positive lifestyle behaviors project. For the second year, students were asked to submit a 400-word essay discussing a healthy habit they have adopted and how it was improved their life and the lives of others.

Ligonier Valley eighth-grader Madelynn Lancashire was selected as one of the winning essay writers during a Healthy Habit assembly at the middle school last week. She was awarded a poster representing the billboard that will be displayed along Route 30, near Kingston Bridge, in Unity, this fall to mark the start of the 2014-15 school term.

Her healthy habit is showing livestock, specifically sheep and goats.

“Showing livestock is my healthy habit because not only do I have to stay clean, fit and healthy as well as having a healthy lifestyle,” Lancashire, 13, wrote in her essay. “I have to eat right, exercise properly and be one that stands out as a good showman. As do I have to be physically and mentally fit for this. I have to make sure the animals I show and raise are healthy, clean and fit as well.”

Lancashire said this healthy habit was introduced by her older sisters. She said they have shown market lambs and goats at Westmoreland County Fair through local 4-H clubs.

“I now follow in their award winning footsteps. I decided to adopt this healthy habit when I became old enough to associate myself with the Chestnut Ridge 4-H Club which in my case was at the age of 8,” Lancashire said. “Showing livestock has changed my life over these five years greatly. I've learned that it takes lots of time, hard work, being social and tons of blood, sweat and tears to be where I am now. I've gained lots of maturity, and responsibility from showing.”

Lancashire said she turned down many opportunities that friends presented to her so she could try and be with her animals more.

“I basically give up my summer just so I can be with my animals and strive to be the best I can be. I've influenced my younger sister as well as my younger cousin who looks up to me for everything. She always tried to make it to my shows so she can watch me because she wants to show just like me when she is older.”

Lancashire said showing livestock is an amazing experience.

“The one quote that you always hear during the show season is ‘work, sweat and pure determination is all it takes for your idol, to become your rival,'” she said.

She is the daughter of Dawnna and Jason Lancashire of Wilpen.

Funding for the billboard production and rental is being shared by Latrobe Area Hospital Aid Society, Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation, Westmoreland Hospital Auxiliary and the Westmoreland/Frick Hospital Foundation.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or