A retired Pennsylvania farmer is once again traversing the country on a vintage tractor to raise funds for forgotten heroes. He is Mr. C. Ivan Stolzfus, and on Monday he made a stop in Jasper as he makes his way across Texas, and eventually reaching Florida.

Stolzfus said his father, who would be 104 now if he were still alive, went across the United States at the age of 26 in 1941, working his way farm-to-farm, and much of that work being done with 2-cylinder tractors. Stolzfus said he was always intrigued by his father’s stories, so he decided that he wanted to do the same thing, but for a cause.

Stolzfus said “I started dreaming, someday I want to go across America for some cause on a 2-cylinder tractor. It wasn’t until later in years, one day out of the blue he said ‘Ivan, if you have a dream, don’t wait until you’re too old or physically can’t do it, just do it. I wish I would have done more’. And, so, I started thinking about this and when I retired and started thinking, you know, if I’m going to do this, I need to do it now”.

And he did just that, on a 1948 John Deer Model-A tractor with a very unique enclosed cab. According to Stolzfus his son, Jerry, is a truck driver and he took a cab from a 1985 Peterbilt conventional and put it on the tractor for his dad and renamed it a “Jerrybilt”.

Stolzfus, on his customized tractor, is now on his third trip across the country. “The first trip was from ocean to ocean. The second trip was completely around America, 8,400 miles. And this one is like a horseshoe. I left Germantown, Maryland, the headquarters of Operation Second Chance, right close to Walter Reed Hospital, made a tent, and went up to Gettysburg, we had an event there, and then I headed west. As far west as Red Lodge, Montana, we had five day event there, and then I am heading down through now down into Amarillo and Fort Worth and down to Crawford, and then I’m headed east. My final destination will be Sarasota, Florida hopefully around the middle of October”, said Stolzfus.

Regarding his cause, “Operation Second Chance”. Stolzfus explained that the organization supports military veterans, police officers, and firefighters who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD.

Stolzfus said “Operation Second Chance; this is the fourth year that they have been on Charity Navigator, they have a 4-star rating, and they’re mostly all volunteer veterans and policemen. We do a lot of weekend retreats, just try to get our veterans out to help them. To help wounded and ill veterans, just to help get them away from their home environment, get them out and help them to heal mentally and physically”.

Stolzfus says if you would like to donate you can do so on the website www.operationsecondchance.org 

According to the Stolzfus’ website, he has helped to raise just under $50,000.00 for the organization.

Broadcast journalist & on-air personality - Rayburn Broadcasting Company - KJAS 107.3 FM in Jasper, TX and KFAH 99.1 FM in Pineland, TX