Ivan Stoltzfus is fulfilling a life-long dream of driving a John Deere tractor cross-country.
And he is doing it for a good cause—to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, a service organization that helps wounded veterans.
Stoltzfus is a retired auctioneer, real estate broker, and farmer from Pennsylvania who divides his time between Honey Brook, Pennsylvania and Sarasota, Florida. He grew up farming with John Deere tractors and loved the sound of the two-cylinder engine.
As a child, he watched his father do a long journey while finding farm work and it sparked something in him.
“My father went from farm to farm in a two cylinder tractor and drove across the United States working,” Stoltzfus told Public Opinion.
“He would go all day and all night for about a year. I was intrigued at the idea and wanted to do it myself.”
About 10 years ago, his father passed away but Stoltzfus remembered something his father said to him.
“If you have a dream, do it,” he said.
A 1948 John Deere Model A serves as the great machine for the epic journey. With the help of a tractor club, Waterloo Boys of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the tractor was restored and retrofitted with a 1984 Peterbilt model 359 cab. Dubbed Johnabilt, it certainly has a unique look.
A 24-foot Trail-Lite travel trailer donated by his cousin Earl Stoltzfus of Stoltzfus RVs and Marine in West Chester, Pennsylvania, is towed behind and serves as home and business headquarters.
The journey from Manasquan, New Jersey to Crescent City, California began on April 26 and he estimates will be completed in 3 1/2 months.
“Veterans have come up to me and told me not to give up,” he said. “It keeps me going. I’m focused on the cause.”
Stoltzfus has set an ambitious $1 million goal for the project. At the time of posting, $47,933 had been pledged.
He is also being joined by Dave Stoltzfus, no relation, a friend who will be traveling part of the way with him on his road bike.
On the Road Again…
And if you listen real close you may hear Johnabilt singing Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again… (with Johnny’s thoughts in parenthesis)
On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again (was tired of laying in the tractor hospital, that’s for sure)
The life I love is making music with my friends (putt-putting music that is)
And I can’t wait to get on the road again (boy, does it feel good to stretch my legs today after that hip replacement)
On the road again (yup, on the road just a struttin’ away)
Goin’ places that I’ve never been (yeah, I have never been in the city before)
Seein’ things that I may never see again (who knew buildings could be put so close; my barn is the only building on my 70 acres)
And I can’t wait to get on the road again (flying along these roads at 17 mph beats going 5 mph and pulling a plow)
On the road again, like a band of gypsies we go down the highway (gypsies- yeah, I would call C. Ivan, Rooster and Smiley gypsies alright)
We’re the best of friends (but I wouldn’t trade my gypsy entourage for anyone else)
Insisting that the world keep turning our way and our way (well, I’m just gonna keep turning my tires one mile at a time across America)
Across America for Wounded Heroes
Follow Ivan Stoltzfus and Johnabilt journey across the country and donate to the project.
Wounded Warrior Project, Inc
The mission of Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is to honor and empower wounded warriors. The purpose of WWP is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members; to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other; and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.
Address: 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, Florida 32256
Phone: (877) TEAM-WWP (832-6997)
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.