It’s finally summer and time for cruise-ins and car shows! But wait! It’s also that time that you can find a semi-truck show and tractor pull in your town.
Now there’s a twist to semi-truck and tractor shows. They aren’t only for showing off big shiny beautiful pieces of iron, or antique tractors, they are not only benefits to help support local communities in need, they are to bring our communities together just like the good ol’ days. Days of funnel cakes, live auctions, visiting with your neighbor and reaching out a hand to someone in need.
But earlier this year (on March 6-7) at the Tri-State Dragway in Earlville, Iowa, I experienced exactly what the Midwest is known for (besides producing corn) – humanity and compassion for their fellow man/woman!
For the 11th year, Eldon Jaeger and his wife Barb of Worthington, Iowa, once again brought together not just one rural Iowa community, but all the surrounding communities and numerous states for the 11th Annual Midwest Pride in Your Ride Cancer Benefit. The benefit’s purpose is to help cancer patients and survivors in the Midwest and recognize those who fight this deadly disease. There were 252 trucks and 39 tractors from 13 states at the event!
Eldon and Barb began the Midwest Pride in Your Ride working truck and tractor show in 2011 after they lost their beautiful daughter to a 14-year fight with ovarian and cervical cancer. Her legacy definitely lives on the minute you meet the Jaegers. Barb is also a cancer survivor we honor and are thankful for.
The event has grown to nearly 300 working trucks and tractors on exhibit, a tractor pull and full-blown professional semi-truck drag races which took place on Saturday night. Along with beautiful trucks and historic tractors, a live auction this year auctioned off 81 items and there was something for everyone. It was a spirited crowd bidding on the items; all I ended up with was six amazing local bakery cupcakes for $225.00! The personal items were heart-touching as there were handmade quilts of past t-shirts and Relay For Life as well.
On Wednesday I thought I would dodge the rain that was forecasted and parked early. Eldon and his amazing antiques and fleet trucks were already there. I have been to many truck shows and judged quite a few, but Thursday I began having to pick my chin up because of the beautiful true working trucks that began to arrive. And they just kept coming even into Saturday afternoon.
It was more amazing than watching the line up at MATS in Louisville! (Sorry, Toby, lol.) Each one obviously rolled in not looking for a trophy, because there weren’t any, but were there to support the cause and the cancer patients that were in attendance all weekend. This was all about them!!! The term we all use in small towns of “Friday NIght Lights” was breathtaking, walking and looking over the lights that seemed to go on for miles.
I can’t tell you in words everything I want you to know about this event because I don’t think my editor can approve an article that long. But there are two special moments that took place that I was blessed to be a part of and want to share.
On Wednesday, Eldon asked if I was up to doing something a little extra. If you know me, well of course I said YES!!! On Thursday Eldon sent six bobtails each to two neighboring towns (Manchester and Dyersville, Iowa) to meet the local American Cancer Society representatives to pick up and give a ride to six cancer survivors who had never been in a truck. I was in one truck that went to Manchester, and my survivor was a local livestock auctioneer, Marvin Waterhouse. Again, you know me; I had to get some auctioneering going on in my truck before I would roll and Marvin was happy to oblige! Once we secured our passengers we set out to meet the other six trucks from Dyersville, in the central location of Earlville, where we came together to honor and salute the survivors for their courage, bravery and fight. Once together, we convoyed to Tri-State Dragway, where we were met by family, friends and fellow drivers. I don’t think I have ever seen such huge smiles on 12 faces in the trucking industry in my life.
It didn’t stop there… On Friday night, 71 trucks dropped their trailers and bobtailed to the dragstrip, where we each collected a cancer patient or survivor. We presented each to the families, friends and community at the grandstand for being such heroes, and we also honored and remembered those gone much too soon. Scott was my ride-along; he is in a tough battle but never let it stop him from smiling the minute he stepped up into my truck. Words can’t explain how full the heart can become.
The rest of the weekend was all about camaraderie and making new friends!! Ones like my neighbors Cindy and Dwayne with Landstar, who attend every year and the Simons family, who let me play with the kids in the cow wagon. Fleets like Friday Trucking, Simons Trucking and full fleets like Rob Hallahan were not in short supply. Drones flew 24 hours a day and children had freedom to be children, running around in awe, safe and secure in a world that has pain but where there is joy for those not there.
Now before I get past my limit here, let me say the tractor pull and the semi-truck races were highlights beyond highlights!! There were some fast (I mean screaming professional fast!) race trucks. Bill Rethwisch and his son Owen, of Tomah, Wisconsin, and his race team brought in a truck I want to drive, but my wants will have to wait. There were trucks and tractors galore, and the “Pride in Your Ride” pull truck was so amazing that I was like a little kid. There was so much for all!!
Last year, Midwest Pride in Your Ride donated $103,790 to the American Cancer Society and the event surpassed that this year! The dollar amounts are fantastic but nothing can come close to those that participate in the event. Their smiles are driven by the hearts that give of their time and money so others can live in this big ol’ world just one more day.
Thank you Eldie, Barb and the Midwest Pride in Your Ride volunteers and staff!! I know my life isn’t the only one that you touched by opening your hearts to me and others!!!
Until next year, I’ll be counting the days until I roll back in a couple of days early to savor what midwestern Iowa so lovingly gives!!
Read more articles by Ingrid Brown