The compassion that our community has is what I love about Acadiana the most. The love that was shown for Kaylee McLain is the perfect example. Kaylee McLain died just a few days before Christmas in an accident, gaining her angel wings on December 10, 2020 at the innocent age of 10. Needless to say, Kaylee’s family and friends, along with the community, were devastated. McLain attended Mt. Carmel in Abbeville, where she was in 4-H and raised her pig, Pearl. Who would have ever known that her pig, Pearl, would have such a huge impact on her memory?  Camille Floyd, a teacher at Mt. Carmel in Abbeville where McClain attended school, reached out to me and told me her story and I’m so grateful she did.

Kaylee’s parents, Erin and Allen McLain, set up the scholarship fund to honor their daughter and help to provide students with education in Catholic schools. A 4-H volunteer, Gwen Broussard, helped the McLain family set up the scholarship fund, according to LSU Ag Center. During the auction of 4-H animals on January 16th, Pearl the pig was sold as a fundraising effort for the scholarship fund to honor Kaylee McLain. Pearl raised $100,000 dollars for a scholarship fund to honor the beautiful little girl.

The word spread quickly about Pearl being sold and many people pledged money to buy the pig. Here is where it gets even better. After numerous people placed WINNING bids on Pearl, they donated the pig back for another round of bidding to continue to raise funds. At that one auction, Pearl was donated back for sale 26 times. According to Gwen Broussard, more than 100 families and businesses contributed.

Shannan Waits, LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in Vermilion Parish, said that her husband, Hilton, was talking in the audience to let everyone know the significance of the donations while the auction was going on. Many were emotional and naturally, wanted to continue to help. The auctioneer struck the final gravel with a total of $96,000. Right after that, Danny Meaux, a 4-H supporter, rose and said “We’re not going to leave it at $96,000. We’re gong to put up another $4,000. Waits said at that moment, everyone gasped and became even more emotional.

I am in tears as I write this. Kaylee worked with her pig every day and now the pig is helping to honor her.

Kaylee was very involved in 4-H and many other activities so it’s no wonder she has the support in her community. She also had a heart of gold. Her obituary says that she was a well-loved fourth grade student and earned the honor of being named “Child of Carmel” for the 2019-2020 school year. She was also elected as Mount Carmel 4-H Secretary for 2020-2021. Kaylee was a past member of Southwest Louisiana Tumble and Cheer where she competed with Louisiana Voodoo Allstars. She exemplified all that a true Christian child is through her love of God as well as her kind, giving, and loving nature. True to her happy, free spirit, Kaylee never met a stranger, and lit up any room she walked into. She brought constant joy to all those around her. Kaylee had a deep love and affection for her family that was evident in all she did. She enjoyed being an alter server at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville with her two older brothers.

The McLain family donated a belt buckle for the winner of the Swine Overall Champion Swine Showmanship award. The buckle reads “All Heart No Shoes” to recognize Kaylee’s enthusiasm for her 4-H swine project and her preference to go barefooted. Her obituary reads, “Anyone who knew Kaylee knows her favorite shoe style was "no shoes" at all. She loved being barefoot most - no matter if she was running through hot rocks or cold ice straight out of the cooler after a big fishing trip on her Grandpa's boat.” The award and buckle were won by Paityn Martin. Broussard said the family plans to continue sponsoring the award.

Erin Webb McLain Facebook

Acadiana comes together during tragedy or in time of need. If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund, a Venmo account has been set up at Venmo@Kaylee-Abigail-McLain.Mem. Donations also can be made at any Bank of Erath branch for the Kaylee Abigail McLain Memorial Fund, or mailed to Bank of Erath, P.O. Box 308, Abbeville, LA, 70510.

*What Makes Acadiana Such a Great Place to Live