C. Ivan Stoltzfus of Honey Brook and Johnabilt the famed local vintage tractor with a Peterbilt cab — created by Ivan, Earl Martin, Jr. and The Waterloo Boys of Southeastern Pennsylvania — is on the road again for a third Across America for Wounded Heroes cross country trip from Maryland to Montana, eventually ending in Sarasota, Florida.
The journey will span six months, covering more than 5,000 miles, traveling at speeds of 14 miles per hour with a goal to raise more than $100,000 for non-profit organization Operation Second Chance.
“These last few days were filled with excitement, from the time we hooked up the camper in Honey Brook with the new, awesome photo of our Heroes (that look like they step right off of the camper), till it was towed and Johnabilt trailered to Operation Second Chance headquarters in Germantown, Maryland!” said Stoltzfus.
Ivan and Cindy McGrew, founder and president of OSC had recently appeared on Fox’s “Fox and Friends” national morning show with Johnabilt sitting right in front of the studio on the New York City street.
McGrew said, “When we saw Ivan in 2016 drive up to our office in Johnabilt, the tractor, we were all excited. We had an intern take him down to Walter Reed Hospital to meet the veterans and tour the military hospital.”
That was the trigger for what would become his next and third mission journey.
“Ivan is the tip of the spear,” said Lt. Col (Ret) Andrew Lourake, OSC Journey Operations Manager, in Gettysburg near the battlefields.
April 10, the journey started from OSC headquarters with the Patriot Guard Riders leading; followed by cyclists from Ride Allegheny biking group; firefighters on trucks; a military truck, and OSC staff and volunteers bringing up the rear, driving through a parade of flags to clapping and lots of cheering.
“The veterans there really filled my heart. Seeing their sacrifices from the war really tore at my heart. Continuing on through towns, there were firemen standing in front of their stations and folks on the sidewalks waving, clapping and cheering. We had a police escort through Fredrick, MD,” said Stoltzfus.
Adding, “I was in tears, filled with emotion. I see a lot of soldiers and veterans trying to adjust back to civilian life. Freedom isn’t free. I want to do my part to help. Daily 22 veterans are committing suicide. There are so many good people in America, folks willing to make a difference in the lives of our nations wounded and first responders I want to reach them.”
Reaching their destination, OSC’s McGrew and staff, along with Ivan’s family, and many supporters gathered the next day for a day-long send-off celebration on April 11, featuring Waterloo Boys’ tractor show, a car show, bands, entertainment and food.
Traveling from Morgantown were Americans 4 Heroes members and their President Paul Morrison. They were Ivan motorcycle escorts for his 2016 trip send-off and 2017 homecoming at Ivan’s home farm in Honey Brook. Photos of these events with them riding down Rt. 10 with Amish in buggies gawking and them attending Ivan’s Veteran’s Day Book Signing at the Village Library in Morgantown, are featured in Ivan’s second book “The Dream Continues” with Carol Quaintance who was also in attendance with Gloria Quaintance.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Lourake further explained why Ivan is the ‘Tip of the Spear.’ “Ivan will be meeting our Heroes across America and will gather their stories to be spotlighted to ensure the needs of those who have given so much are never forgotten.”
He added, “Ivan has partnered with Operation Second Chance to raise awareness and funds for our nation’s veterans, service members, and first responders. He travels supported by Cindy McGrew, OSC founder and president, her staff and interns who will be calling ahead to schedule media and events while updating his daily blogs, and veteran stories on his website. There folks can track him as he travels and donate to the mission. In addition, some OSC members will travel with him for special celebrations and appearances.”
“OSC provides emergency financial assistance to combat wounded, injured and ill veterans, if vets are falling behind on their mortgage payments, they help Band-Aid them … Through a caseworker, we can usually turn it around within 24 to 48 hours, so they can stay above water. In addition to emergency funding for life’s needs, we help over 1,000 veterans each year feel love through outdoor excursions and couples’ retreats in nine states everything from fishing trips, camping, horseback riding, to going to a nice hotel and hanging out on the beach,” Lourake said. Check out the programs at operationsecondchance.org.
Ivan’s mission is pursuing his childhood dream to cross the country on a tractor. His father told him if you have a dream, do it before you are too old to do it. He felt called by God to do that as he raised awareness and funds for America’s heroes. He believes America is one big family, and families help each other.
“I feel confident, but at the same time not sure how much I will sleep. As always, I seek prayers from my prayer warriors, and I will be saying mine. I think these upcoming mountains will be the worst on this trip, there are no shoulders and the road is narrow with a 10 percent slope. I will be giving Johnabilt a back rub before we hit the road and will be feeding the rooster some extra protein so he can help pull.”
Ivan lives by these words: “Great suffering breeds great mercy.” He is willing to bear hardships for this work, reminding us that the veterans suffered for our freedom. We are all a part of his journey through prayer or giving. Start following him at operationsecondchance.org, scroll down to the second page to AAFWH and track him, sign up to receive his blogs, and donate.
His books are available locally at Masthof Press and Bookstore www.mashof. Press or firstname.lastname@example.org.