Ivan Stoltzfus is facing one of the longest journeys in his life, and it's on a 1948 Model A John Deere tractor.
Stoltzfus, a retired farmer from the small town of Honey Brook, Pennsylvania, is voyaging from New Jersey to California with one mission: Raise one million dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“My heart has just been going out for those guys who are coming back and trying to fit in civilization,” Stoltzfus said. “A lot of them are feeling hopeless and I just want to bring awareness and let them know we care.”
Stoltzfus' cross country trip began on April 26, 2014, but this idea had been in his mind for much longer.
“I never served in the military, but I always wanted to somehow pay back the people who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Stoltzfus said.
He decided to use his past farming experience to make a positive impact for veterans. When word got out, a trailer with a queen size bed, kitchen and bathroom was donated. His tractor is fitted with a cab from an old Peterbilt.
“I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received,” he said.
Just above his tractor seat sits a special honor, the Purple Heart medal.
“That was given to me by a solider I met on this trip,” Stoltzfus smiled as his eyes began to gloss over with tears. “That’s what gives me all the motivation I need.”
Ivan Stoltzfus says he has raised about $60,000 so far. He’s hoping to complete his journey this fall.