A LaCrosse native who relocated to St. Petersburg, Fla. a few years ago is back home as part of a fundraiser for a good cause. Darren Hayes left the Florida sunshine on Aug. 29 bound for New Buffalo, Mich. driving a 1951 John Deere tractor and pulling a 10-foot trailer with a banner attached.
“My good friend Matt has two inoperable brain tumors, and his daughter died a year ago from a brain tumor as well. When we offered to do a benefit for him, he requested that we take anything that’s donated and give it to Riley Children’s Hospital as well as Ronald McDonald House because they took care of him and his family while his daughter was going through her tough times,” said Hayes.
“One day I had a little issue, and I needed a ride to town. It was noting imperative, but I was stuck and 30 miles from the nearest town. No sooner did I pull to the side of the road and a guy stopped and asked ‘Do you need something?’ It’s been like that all the way up. I could talk all day about the willingness of people to help,” said Hayes.
Hayes has collected some donations along the way, but most of the fundraising so far has taken place through his website, trackthetractor.com. He hopes to raise $25,000.
“Even if it’s just a dollar, people have apologized to me handing me $2 and saying ‘that’s all I have.’ You don’t understand, that $2 helps tremendously. That $2 paired with 1,000 other one dollar bills, it adds up, and it adds up quick. I encourage people not to be bashful. You may think that it’s just a dollar, but eventually compiled with a bunch of others, it’s changing lives, and we need it,” said Hayes.
Hayes will conclude his journey tomorrow in New Buffalo, but he and the tractor will return to Wanatah on Saturday for a benefit fundraiser at the American Legion. Find more information about that event on his website, trackthetractor.com, as well as links to his social media sites.