Sarasotan Completes Tractor Drive Across the US in Support of Operation Second Chance

Todays News

BY BRITTANY MATTIE SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY OCT 14, 2019

Sarasota native, Ivan Stoltzfus, completed his almost six month cross-country tractor drive Saturday, October 12. The retired farmer journeyed many of America's county and state roads in a modified 1948 John Deere tractor he refers to as “Johnabilt”, which reached top speeds daily of 14 MPH. Stoltzfus lived on the road and slept in his RV trailor.

From a young age, Stoltzfus was captivated by his father’s stories of traveling across the U.S., and he always had a dream of one day being able follow in his footsteps. While going through the process of what it would take to make this dream a reality, Stoltzfus realized he needed a purpose to drive him the thousands of miles.  Although he never served in the military, he always had an devotion to those who had. This admiration developed into the idea to travel the country to raise money and awareness for veterans and first responders. Stoltzfus teamed up with Operation Second Chance (OSC) for his venture to create the Across America for Wounded Heroes initiative. 

The national nonprofit is known for its dedication in providing financial and emergency assistance to America's wounded, ill and injured service members. Additionally, the nonprofit's veteran retreat program has a strong presence within Sarasota, and is run by former military officers who volunteer and donate all of their time—proving that life in the service doesn’t end when you retire. 

Stoltzfus started his journey in Germantown, Maryland in May before heading across the motherland to Red Lodge, Montana, arriving in time for one of OSC’s Veteran Retreats. From Red Lodge, he traveled south through Texas before heading his way back to his home in Sarasota. Along the way, he met many veterans who shared their stories and donated personal items forStoltzfus to hang in his tractor as he continued on for the cause. Some of these gifts include a service members' Purple Heart medal, old photographs from war, military patches, mass cards of relatives passed and more. His 5500-mile journey concluded as he rolled into the Der Dutchman restaurant on Bahia Vista with a local crowd applauding at the finish line of his philanthropic pursuit. 

For more information about OSC and Across America for Wounded Heroes, visit here.

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