Ivan Stoltzfus supports veterans — not because he is one, but because he isn’t.
“I never got to serve in the military,” said Stoltzfus, “And I wanted to bring awareness and recognition to the public of the sacrifices made by those who did serve. I wanted to show how grateful I am for the freedoms they fought for and that I enjoy in this great country.”
So he is driving his restored 1948 John Deere “A” from coast-to-coast in an effort to raise $1 million for the Wounded Warriors Project.
Stoltzfus was making his way across Nebraska last month.
The mission of the Wounded Warriors Project is to foster successful, well-adjusted wounded service members. Their purpose is to raise public awareness and aid for injured service members, help these service men and women to help and encourage each other, and to provide programs and services to meet their needs.
A native of Honeybrook, Penn., Stoltzfus retired in 2000. He grew up farming with John Deere tractors and has spent most of his life raising corn, soybeans and chickens.
Now a real estate broker, he also donates his time and talents as an auctioneer at local benefit auctions.
Instead of a plow, the tractor — named “Johnabilt” — pulls a 24-foot camper trailer. A chrome rooster hood ornament and American flags decorate the front and American and Prisoner of War flags fly behind the trailer.
The motto, “Across America for Wounded Heroes: Changing Lives one Mile at a Time” is emblazoned on the sides of the trailer.
The tractor cab is a 1984 Peterbilt Model 359 cab adapted to the tractor by Stoltzfus’ son-in-law.
Crossing the country at 15 miles per hour, he has the leisure to enjoy the beauty of this great nation, he said.
“I backed into the Atlantic Ocean at Manasquan, New Jersey when I started this trip, and I plan to drive into the Pacific at Crescent City, California at the other end,” said Stolzfus. “I’ve driven through some beautiful country.”
He has participated in numerous fundraisers and stopped at many historic sites during his travels. During a stop at the John Deere plant in Iowa, Johnabilt created much interest among the employees and managers and earned Stoltzfus a guided tour of the plant.
Although Stoltzfus would say that he has contributed little to guarantee the freedoms all Americans enjoy, he recognizes how much American agricultural producers — and their tractors — have also given to make this country what it is today.
So far, Stoltzfus has raised $72,757 on this trip.
To contribute to his cause and to follow his journey, visit www.HelpAmericanHeroes.com. ❖