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Man driving John Deere tractor cross-country for Wounded Warrior Project

Ivan Stoltzfus built this restored 1948 John Deere Model A with an added 1984 Peterbilt cab for a cross-country trip to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project.

When Ivan Stoltzfus, an auctioneer from Honey Brook, Pa., decided he was going to fulfill a life-long dream of riding a John Deere tractor cross-country, he decided that he wanted it to be for a good cause.

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 said. "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. "I also lost a friend about five years ago. I thought, if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it soon."

Stoltzfus then had a 1948 John Deere Model A restored for the journey and a 1984 Peterbilt cab was attached for the long distance, as well as a camper attachment in the back.

After some thought, he decided he wanted to use the opportunity to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, a service organization that helps wounded veterans.

"I take my freedom for granted," Stoltzfus said. "It brings tears to my eyes to think that these people volunteer to put their lives at risk for us.

On Sunday, he stopped at the Cumberland Valley Antique Engine and Machinery Association Grounds in Chambersburg, where members are giving him a place to stay for the night, before leaving for his next stop, Everett.

The journey in full, 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. As of 10 a.m. on Monday, he had made $44,251.

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.

To track Stoltzfus' journey and to donate to the project, visit his website at http://www.helpamericanheroes.com.

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