Harvest time: farmer with cancer doesn’t expect much help, gets big surprise

In days of yore, community barn raisings were a common event in rural America. In some places, labor was scarce and cash nearly always was. So when someone had to build a barn, the whole community would help out. Everyone knew that when the time came, the favor would be returned. As the rural economy grew and changed, the community barn raising went out with the nineteenth century, or so we thought.

Carl Bates of Galva, Illinois was all set for barns. What was going to be a much, much greater challenge than usual was harvesting his crop. Carl had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and he and his family didn’t think they’d be able to get the job done. They reached out to a few farmers in the area but knew there was only so much help they could expect: the harvest is a busy time of year for everyone. But word really does get around in a small town. To the Bates’ amazement, dozens of people turned our to help. As Carl explained to reporters, “We had 10 combines, 16 semis, and around 40 people. We ended up with all these people showing up and had to organize.” Some local businesses pitched in, too, providing food and equipment for the volunteers.

Although drained by his illness and the side effects of his treatments, Carl was determined to be out in the fields riding along with the volunteers. “It took about 10 hours to harvest all 450 acres, which would have otherwise taken us nearly a week. One of the things we’ve noticed is how great it is to see people help each other for a change as opposed to all the bad news stories out there.”

Check out the video of this remarkable harvest that’s posted below. It’s beautifully shot and visually very striking, but what matters most is the way the Bates family’s neighbors came through for them at such a difficult time.

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