This is a story about unconditional love, compassion beyond measure, and giving. It is a story about support, determination, and of course, community. It all started with the birth of a piglet, named “Sam Handwich,” who recently joined The Center for Discovery® family.

Here is the story told through the eyes and hearts of TCFD Herdsman and Farmer, Matt, along with Farm Coordinator, Kirby.

Matt: “The momma pig had a litter of 13 piglets on October 21st.  After several hours, we realized the piglet might need help and rehabilitation.  I had hope because he was very spunky.  So, we took him away from his mother and started bottle-feeding, and kept him warm under a heat lamp.”

Kirby: “His balance was off and he was having trouble walking. Matt suggested we include our Center students and have them help bottle-feed him. Matt and I took turns bringing him to our homes overnight to keep the feedings going – every two hours.”

Matt: “Honestly, it was a few days before we saw any progress. On Day 3, he started moving more. At that point, we weren’t sure if we were dealing with a neurological or muscular or dehydration/weakness problem. He still couldn’t stand up!”

Matt: “The amazing part was by now – everyone was involved at The Center.”

Kirby: “I would take him around to the classrooms because he was still being fed every few hours. Some students wouldn’t hold him. Some would feed him but not hold him. It was so great to see them overcome their fears and want to both hold and feed him.”

Kirby: “Around Day 3 is when the idea of the wheelchair came about, and I quickly started to find things in the basement that I could use to construct into a wheelchair:  toothbrush holders, wheels, some screws.  I also added a cat harness I had at home – to keep the little guy in his wheelchair.”

Kirby: “The minute I strapped him in, he realized with the wheelchair that he could walk. He started scurrying around. It was pretty exciting to see him scooting around my house.  The next morning he showed off at The Center.”  (reference the video below)

Kirby: “He used the wheelchair on and off for a few days, strengthening his legs, and regaining his balance.”

Matt: “He was so spunky.  With farm animals – if they have spunk, then they usually do well. Sam had an unbelievable will to thrive!”

Matt: “Yesterday, nine days after his birth, we knew he was ready to go back to his mom.”

Kirby: “He was completely walking on his own, was able to get up independently if he fell, and was squealing with excitement!”

Matt: “It was going to be the last hurdle. I expected his brothers and sisters to give him a hard time.  That’s what animals do.  And they did.  He hung in there.  A little while later they were all nursing and I was looking for him.  He’s the little one and he was pushing all of them out of the way!”

Kirby: “Today he woke earlier than his brothers and sisters to get in a little extra bonding time with mom!”

Matt: “This is what we do at The Center for Discovery®. It required many inputs – from creating support in the form of a wheelchair to resources like heating lamps and animal formula and care from – residents, students and staff.”

Matt: “Sam needed warmth, nutrition, exercise, time and then Mom.”

Unconditional love, and the community that is the core of The Center helped Sam discover his best. This is the work of TCFD – where hope never stops growing.

Our little wonder, Sam, was born and taken care of by our students, residents and staff at TCFD’s 300-acre organic and biodynamic farm, which is at the core of the Department of Nourishment Arts® (DNA).  DNA brings together farmers, herdsmen, orchardists, nutritionists, chefs, clinicians, support staff, residents, and students to work with livestock, as well as with the soil and bring the healthiest food possible to the table.

And, in the spirit of a community that never stops fueling innovation and ensuring that each individual – and animal – has the tools that allow them to thrive, Sam will reach his full potential. At TCFD, our Assistive Technology Department works hand-in-hand with other departments across the organization and has a long history of developing adaptive equipment to improve the quality of life for all. This is just one more example of our belief that everyone has a Right to Move™.

For more information about this truly transformative work in DNA and at The Center for Discovery®, please contact the Office of Strategic Outreach and Partnerships at