Riding a Tractor Across America for Wounded Warriors - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Riding a Tractor Across America for Wounded Warriors

Posted: Updated: Jun 02, 2014 11:25 PM

A Pennsylvania man is on a remarkable journey across the United States. He's traveling from Manasquan, New Jersey, to Crescent City, California, on a tractor on a mission to raise awareness and a million dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project.

C. Ivan Stoltzfus has traveled more than 1100 miles since April, arriving in the Quad Cities metro on Monday afternoon. When he arrives on the West Coast in late summer, he will have traveled about 3,500 miles in a vehicle with a maximum speed of only about 15 miles an hour. 

It's a 1948 John Deere Model A with a custom-built truck cab, towing a 24 foot camper, carrying his message.

"The wounded warriors always pulled at my heart. I just feel like sometimes they are having trouble getting situated back into civilian life and I just want to bring awareness for them," Stoltzfus said, when we caught up with him on the road right outside Colona.

His goal, he says, is to change lives - one mile at a time.

"I was never in the military but I always felt like I wanted to give back," he said.

Along the way, he is staying at camp grounds, on farms, or wherever else he is welcome. Click here to see the map of his journey.

On Monday night, the Silvis Fire Department was happy to play host.

"As we know, freedom is not free, and we should pay our warriors back," said Jim Nelson, Silvis City Clerk, who was at the new fire station on 10th to greet Stoltzfus as he pulled up in his tractor.

Stoltzfus says he's humbled by the support he has seen on this mission, especially from the veterans he meets.

One veteran gave him the Purple Heart he earned in Afghanistan to carry along with him in the cab of his tractor - a tangible reminder of what this journey is all about.

"It's just so emotional, and people are just cheering me on and I know I am doing the right thing for the wounded warriors," he said. "And seeing the wounded warriors come up to me, and just thanking me, and saying, 'Don't give up. Keep going please. For us.'"

Stoltzfus' message for those wounded warriors: 'Right back at ya.'

He says he's proving to them, and everyone else, that you can do what you set your mind to, whether that's reintegrating into civilian life, learning to walk again after war, or completing an epic journey on an antique tractor.

"If you have a dream, don't put it aside where someday you'll think "Why didn't I do it?' Just do it," he said.

After spending Monday night in Silvis, Stoltzfus will spend the next few days in our area, visiting Hero Street, the John Deere Pavilion and John Deere Harvester works before moving on with his journey on Friday morning.

You can follow along on Stoltzfus' travels across America - and make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project - online at helpamericanheroes.com.

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