Friday, September 14, 2012

Tractor Pulling For A Purpose

Submitted by Mike Palmer (Ed. note - I get emails and regular mail all the time and sometimes they stand out more than others. This email sent to me by Mike Palmer about the young boy and his battle with cancer is one of the most memorable I've received. Please take the time to read the letter in full and the PS at the end. If anyone has anything to add or wishes to help initiate what Mike's proposed in the PS, LET ME KNOW. Kudos to Mike for his efforts on Jayden's behalf. Thanks. Dear Bryan, Recently, I had the pleasure of witnessing and participating in a pulling event that reminds me why we enjoy this sport so much. This past Monday, July 30th I had the privilege of pulling with a young boy of 4 years old who has truly touched me to the depths of my heart. His name is Jayden Barber and like me he is in love with tractors particularly those green and yellow ones, but just about any color tractor will get his attention. I met Jayden about a month ago, when I learned about him from my girlfriend. To give you a quick history, Jayden is a 4 year old boy who has fought for every day he has on this earth. At the age of 2, he was diagnosed with bone cancer. After a long fight and countless chemo therapy treatments the family was all smiles as they thought Jayden had beaten the odds. Unfortunately, the odds were entirely against him, Jayden is one of the few cases where his body actually reacted to the chemo and developed and extremely rare form of terminal leukemia. Again the family was hopeful, but after a bone marrow transplants and T-cell infusions the doctors delivered the crushing blow that Jayden’s body just wasn’t reacting to the treatments and so he was sent home to spend the next six weeks with his family and enjoy their time together. Despite all of this, upon meeting this little boy for the first time, you would have no idea he is in a battle for his life. He has always had a smile on his face and is as happy as can be. He is in pain, has limited use of his right arm from the bone cancer, and still never complains or "asks why me?". I spent only a few honors with Jayden, but I can tell you they were life changing hours at that. Here I am complaining about a bad day at the office, horrible customers, being tired, and yet in front of me is a 4 year old with a death sentence who is smiling and laughing as if nothing is wrong, even though I know he has to take a pain pill every 3 hours just to function. So it didn't take me long to look for a what can I do to help solution........ The answer, I learned that Jayden and his 3 year old brother Carson are in LOVE with tractors which is great because so am I ! So last week we arranged for the family to come out and drive some tractors around the farm, we ended up driving anything that ran! Apparently, Jayden had a good time, because he was so excited to come back that he was trying to arrange another play date for the very next night. He kept asking to drive bigger tractors next time, and then it hit me, what about a tractor pull! Now, this may seem like a small request to some, but for those of us associated with pulling, think of all the red tape, insurance, safety concerns, etc.! Well, through the big hearts of the Columbiana County Fair in Lisbon Ohio, Steve Knizat fair board vice-president, Reesman Farm Supply, Trophy Works, and various others we were able to put together a special Exhibition pull on Monday Night July 30th 2012, at the Columbiana County Fair. I am not sure who was more excited Jayden or myself, I later learned that Jayden had prepared his wardrobe for the pull a day ahead of time just to be sure everything was perfect! The pull itself, was special in so many ways. I used one our Farm Stock pullers and retrofitted it with a special seat, fenders, and safety belt for Jayden and I to make this once in a lifetime voyage down the 300’ track for a Full Pull. We may have only been idling along, but to Jayden we were full speed ahead on a mission to pass that 300’ cone!
As special as it was for Jayden, it had an even bigger impact on the spectators and of course me. I have been to countless pulls in my lifetime and I have NEVER seen a crowd that overwhelmed with the event. The announcer gave a quick background on Jayden’s history and then asked for the crowd to rise to their feet and support this little boy as he made his first ever pull. All eyes were on Jayden, there wasn’t a single engine running, no one was speaking, and of course there wasn’t a dry eye in the whole place. The moment was incredible for anyone who had the pleasure of witnessing it. I have never seen an entire arena go silent so quickly and then erupt so loudly with cheers and applause. Finally to top it all off, as Jayden reached the 300’ mark, he raised his little hand and fist upward in celebration as crowd roared to life in approval!!!! Afterwards a trophy commemorating the event (donated by Trophy works) was presented to Jayden for his accomplishments. It all was worth it as I heard him tell his mom “this was the best day ever!”
Now if all this generosity wasn’t enough, I came to learn later that evening that a few pullers had taken it upon themselves to donate their class winnings back to the Barber family in support of Jayden’s cause to help with medical bills and any other expense. I know there are some people out there, who question what this world is coming to, and heck I am just as guilty at times, but after Monday night I was overwhelmed with the generosity, kindness, and compassion people still have. I have never been more honored to be at a pull and could not be prouder of my fellow pullers. This was truly a pull for a cause that won’t soon be forgotten by anyone in attendance and it reminds me just why I love this sport. Sincerely, Michael Palmer PS: Since then the idea of starting a foundation of “pulling for a cure” or “tractors for therapy” where sick kids get to come and drive tractors as a therapy or impromptu make-a-wish. Something that seems so simple, but just the idea of being able to put a smile on a child’s face, seems worth it. Do you know of any such organizations? Also, do you think there are people out there who would embrace this idea as well as maybe help me build a wheel chair accessible tractor? I think it could be a great thing for kids, teens, and adults alike, but in order to get it off the ground I may need a little support! (Ed. note: Here is the follow-up I received in recent days. I for one thought the room got a little dusty reading the follow-up given the situation initially faced. Proof of the dramatic blessings that God does bestow, and keep him in your thoughts and prayers! Just to share some great news, I found out late last night that while at the hospital for his weekly transfusions and checkup, the blood work came back negative for cancer. Thinking there was a mistake the doctors did some scans and more test and Jayden is now deemed to be 99% cancer free. He's not totally out of the clear yet, as he is still fighting a graft vs host disease from all the transfusion but things are on the up and up. Best of all, the doctors have no explanation what so ever. However, if you asked Jayden, he'll tell you without a moment's pause that it was Jesus who told him he would be ok. All this from a 4 year old...WOW. This is the type of miracle that just shows you how the power of prayer can work, sometimes we may not understand why things happen but there is defiantly a plan at work much more powerful than I can understand. Thanks again for the article and I would love some feedback on the non-profit idea. I have some plans in the work to find an orchard tractor for a fully hydraulically controlled wheelchair tractor, and have been talking with some friends who are lawyers to find out just what it would take to make this idea become a reality. Any and all feedback is welcomed and appreciated. Thank you so much! Michael Palmer


  1. thats fantastic. i think that it would be a great thing to have charitable tractor pulls to raise funds for various health causes and give those who wouldnt normally be able to a chance to pull. i am fortunate in that my dad is able to do all the prep work so i can still pull. i know what it means to me.
    God Bless,
    Brent Paulus

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