STERLING, Colo. -- What started as something of an agricultural protest is growing into an annual phenomenon.

The annual "Meat-In" in Sterling has grown to include vendors as well as non-profit representatives. The event started as a protest against a proclamation not to eat meat on one day. Sterling Livestock Commission led the effort to change it from a "meat-out," to a "Meat In." 

The first event was held adjacent to the sale barn offering the community free hamburgers and hotdogs and the fixings. The hamburgers and hotdogs have continued, along with a live and silent auction. Proceeds support local causes and scholarships for students pursuing degrees in agricultural studies.

This year's event also benefited the Angels of America's Fallen, the Family Resource Center, and Brendan and Tayler Diaz. 

Joe Lewis, founder and  chief executive officer of Angels of America's Fallen said the program is designed to support the family of a first responder during a crisis.

"What we do at Angels of America's Fallen is support kids who have lost their parent who is police, fire, EMS or military," Lewis said.

Brendan and Tayler Diaz are a young couple whose son is diagnosed with some rare health issues.

"Our little son Tucker was born with a major congenital heart defect that was found later in life. Typically they find it within a few months of life. Unfortunately for him, they found it at two years almost. It's what they call a 'Swiss cheese heart," said his father Brendan Diaz.

He said Tucker has multiple VSDs and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). A VSD is a ventricular septal defect, a birth defect of the heart in which there is a hole in the wall (septum) that separates the two lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart. He has also been diagnosed with a "very, very rare Morgagni hernia. Morgagni hernias are rare congenital diaphragmatic defects that can lead to bowel obstruction.

Brett Dowis was present representing SadiBug Charities. 

"I'm a firefighter here in Sterling. We developed SadiBug Charities as a way to provide a resource for those affected by unexpected loss or tragedy. 

Dowis said their daughter was born with Downs Syndrome and a heart defect. Through the experience, they have learned there is a need for people to provide fuel cards, meals ... the basics that may be overlooked in a moment of crisis.