People have been traveling across the country in unconventional ways for decades; skiers, bikers, runners, and so on. Some do it for research while others want the athletic challenge. Some, however, decide to do this amazing feat as an unforgettable act of charity.
In less than a week 66-year-old C. Ivan Stoltzfus, of Honey Brook, will begin his journey to California in a refurbished John Deere tractor, raising funds for the Wounded Warrior Project. But before he takes to the road, some locals wanted to show their support for his cause.
April 17, Stoltzfus celebrated an early kick-off for his journey at Honey Brook’s Hickory House Nursing and Rehab.
The “Johnabilt” (named after adding the ’84 Peterbilt cab to the ’48 John Deere tractor) could be seen from the roadside as Hickory House residents and local community donators gathered to listen as Stoltzfus’s explanation for choosing such a feat. One outspoken senior resident was so enthralled by his commitment that she immediately pulled out her wallet and handed Stoltzfus a dollar believing that it would fund a gallon of gas for his trip.
“It’s just humbling how people are backing me up and wanting to help,” says Stoltzfus. “I never dreamt this would get this big.”
After answering all of the questions about the tractor and Stoltzfus’s plans, District Representative and Wounded Warrior Eric Cobar surprised Soltzfus with a handshake and a few words of appreciation about wanting to give back to the men and women who are forgotten about when they come back from war.
“I say that America is like one big family, and family members take care of each other,” said Stoltzfus as he explains his reasoning for choosing the Wounded Warrior Project. “They have a love enough for us that they were willing to volunteer and go and fight for my freedom. We, as Americans, now it’s our responsibility to show love back to them and give where we can.”
Stoltzfus hopes to give $1 million to the Wounded Warrior Project by the end of his journey. So far, he has raised more than $20,000 for the project; about $200 of that was earned at Hickory House’s kick-off. Through his journey, Stoltzfus will be making various auction and fundraiser stops as his journey gains more popularity. You can view all the upcoming events, as well as, track Stoltzfus’s whereabouts on his website, helpamericanheroes.com.
The cross-country ride will begin on April 26 in Manasquan, New Jersey, where they will dip the “Johnabilt’s” tires into the ocean during the opening ceremony. He says that once he is through the mountain areas can on more level ground, he will be going about 15 miles per hour on as many back roads as he can. He hopes not to get into any governmental or state regulation snafoos, however, he also feels that if he does, there are enough veterans and people who care that they would hopefully override them. After saying that, he told a story of how a recently veteran pulled him over on the side of the road and said “don’t give up,” showing Stoltzfus just how important this commitment is to veterans around the country.
Go to helpamericanheroes.com to give towards the Wounded Warrior Project or show support at his next appearance.