Man to visit area during cross-country trip
A Chester County man will stop in Altoona as part of his journey across America to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Ivan Stoltzfus of Honey Brook, an auctioneer and real estate broker, as well as a retired farmer, is expected to arrive in Altoona during the evening of May 6 and set up at the Army Reserve Center, 3001 Pleasant Valley Blvd., where he plans to stay for a couple of days, said Lloyd Peck, coordinator for Stoltzfus’ visit to the area.
“I am glad he is going to stop here. This will give him an opportunity to meet the people,” Peck said. “He will have T-shirts and hats for sale, and this will be an opportunity for him to meet the veterans.”
Peck said he has invited numerous veterans, as well as state Rep. John McGinnis, R-Altoona, and state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, to stop by and meet with Stoltzfus.
Stoltzfus’ trip – Across America for Wounded Heroes – will begin at 8:30 a.m. April 26 in Manasquan, N.J., and will end in Crescent City, Calif. – a journey of approximately 3,000 miles.
He will be driving a 1948 John Deere Model A two-cylinder tractor hauling a 22-foot camper to serve as both home and headquarters for him during his trip.
A John Deere club, the Waterloo Boys, assisted Stoltzfus in finding and servicing the tractor. Another company, Earl R. Martin Inc., owned by his son-in-law, worked at finding and retrofitting a Peterbilt cab for the antique tractor. His cousin, Earl Stoltzfus of Stoltzfus RV in West Chester, donated the camper.
Stoltzfus said he dreamed of a cross-country adventure on an old John Deere tractor to see the United States and to raise funds for a special mission.
He remembered his father telling him that in 1937 he worked his way from the East Coast to the West Coast for a year working on farms, driving dirt roads and crossing the Mississippi River on a swinging wooded bridge.
“I couldn’t help remembering my dad saying to me in his later years, ‘Ivan, if you have a dream, don’t wait until you are too old and then regret you didn’t do more,'” Stoltzfus said. “After I made my decision and set a date, it was like a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders. I knew it was what I was to do. I didn’t know how exactly it was all going to happen, but I knew it was what I was to do.”
Stoltzfus said he felt his adventure should have a purpose and a means to give back to others so he chose the Wounded Warriors Project.
“If I can draw awareness to the many heroes of this great America, then it will be worth it all. My hope is to bring a smile to those who may have lost a limb or been wounded, who are perhaps feeling worthless and downtrodden,” Stoltzfus said.
One hundred percent of all money raised will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization supporting injured service members.
Stoltzfus said he hopes to raise money by holding benefit auctions during his journey.
He said he isn’t sure how many stops he will make but expects to drive 60 to 70 miles per day. His journey will be on back roads, not on major highways.
He is not sure how long the journey will take, but he is estimating three months.
“I will be happy as long as I get there before the snow flies,” Stoltzfus said.
He said friends and family are expected to meet with him at various points along the way. He has an open seat on his tractor.
“Veterans are welcome to ride along with me. I have two seats with an enclosed cab. It is customized. I have a stereo system with a CD player. The dash is custom made like a Peterbilt truck. I don’t have air conditioning, but I have AC in the camper,” Stoltzfus said.
Stoltzfus, 66, is excited about the trip.
“I am pleading for people to step on board. It is not about me. It is about all of us as a team. America is one big family. I want to give back to those who volunteered and paid the ultimate price for our freedom. It is not about me; it is about the veterans and the cause,” Stoltzfus said.
Donations can be sent to Across America for Wounded Heroes, 708 Lammey Road, Honey Brook, PA 19344 or to
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.