A central Iowa man found a way to keep busy while battling a life threatening illness. He says his project took his mind off treatment. Now, he hopes his effort helps others.
Walking through a workshop in Carlisle, you can tell Larry Schabel has a hobby. He says, "The tractor thing, the thing I love."
He says he typically keeps his work private, but one particular tractor is a labor of love worth sharing. He says, "It needed everything, but I decided this is a thing I love. I'm going to do it right."
Schabel started restoring an old Allis Chalmers B tractor last fall with the help of a new friend. He says, “He couldn't do much, but he was here for spirit and everything. In fact, I asked him to come up today, but he didn't feel very good."
Larry Schabel met Larry Myers in the hospital. Both were battling colorectal cancer. Schabel says, "When I was in the hospital, we're walking and people would be kind of dragging, they'd turn around and go to their room. We'd be come on walk with us. Larry was right there with me."
Out of the hospital, the men decided they needed something to keep the mind off what the body was battling. The two Larrys tinkered with the tractor while undergoing chemotherapy. Medical Oncologist Bob Behrens says, "I got a kick out of hearing him carry his chemotherapy bag around with him while he was fixing the tractor."
Dr. Behrens goes on to say, "I'm happy Larry had activities to do to take his mind off what's going on. I'm happy he was healthy enough and felt well enough to restore an antique tractor while he was on chemotherapy."
Schabel also restored the tractor as a way of giving back. It's going to be raffled off to raise money for the John Stoddard Cancer Center.
Dr. Behrens says, "Stoddard has a lot of programs with special nurses who help people with questions and side effects that come up."
The typically orange tractor should also raise awareness. It is brightly painted blue in honor of colon cancer, pink for breast cancer and the orange seat signifies blood cancers in honor of the family who donated the tractor for Schabel to restore, which he says helped him kick his cancer. He says, "You bet, all the tractors I worked on and this one probably especially because I had something in my heart I wanted to do with it."
He wanted to fix it in honor of all those who helped fix him. The tractor will be on display Saturday, June 15 at G&L Clothing on Ingersoll Avenue in Des Moines. Tickets are $10 and will be on sale through September 16th. Click here for more information.