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Farmer's Cancer Battle Inspires John Deere to Develop Therapy Combine Steps

26 Apr 2024

In Iowa, farming is more than a livelihood — it's a legacy passed down through generations, where hard work is woven into the fabric of rural life — Glenn Pope's team at John Deere epitomizes this, crafting combines day in and day out.

Yet, amidst their routine, one combine stood out — a creation for a farmer they had never met.

As originally reported by KCCI, Brad Plunkett, an Iowa farmer by birthright, instilled his passion for the land in his sons, who, like him, grew up riding in the cab of a tractor, reminiscent of their own childhoods with Grandpa Brad during harvest season in Story County.

So, when Brad was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 55 and he grappled with his balance, his treatment centered around farming. Therapists at On With Life in Ankeny decided to take his therapy sessions outdoors to a tractor on the facility's grounds.

However, the outdated tractor at the facility fell short of Brad's needs. Determined to simulate climbing into his combine, Brad sketched his vision on scrap paper, months before his passing.

Fast forward a year, and John Deere's Quad Cities team took up Brad's cause. Overcoming the challenges of mass production, they crafted a life-size model of a tractor and combine cab, positioned 7 feet above ground — a testament to Brad's perseverance and foresight.

"He's making a difference even when he's not here," Ryan Plunkett told KCCI.

"I just want to burst," Karen Plunkett also told KCCI. "I just feel real proud because I know how happy it would make him."


Farmers Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.