Archive for Thursday, December 16, 2004

Drive to benefit area soldier

December 16, 2004

Leslie Ward might have a big green present to put in his barn - just in time for Christmas.

Ward, a rural Lansing resident and an active reservist who served in Iraq beginning in January 2003, spent the past few months in Texas recovering from an injury he suffered in Baghdad.

When he returned home a few weeks ago, he found farm equipment in his barn had been stolen.

Help, however, appears to be coming.

The story originally appeared in The Lansing Current and Tonganoxie Mirror newspapers two weeks ago. Since then, word of the theft has spread rapidly.

KMBC-TV 9 reported Dec. 3 about Ward's situation. That's when Kansas City's Mix 93.3 radio station disc jockey Kelly Urich first heard of Ward's misfortune.

"To come back home and find your tractor missing, that's just not cool," Urich said. "The least we could do is raise some money and get him a new tractor."

Last week, Urich started Kelly's Tractor Drive in hopes of giving Ward a new John Deere tractor. Callers could donate money for a new tractor, either by e-mail through PayPal or by checks payable to the radio station.

According to Urich's broadcasts last week, a man who asked to remain anonymous pledged $4,000 toward a new tractor if listeners matched it. Urich, who is on the air from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, still was working to raise funds Monday.

He planned to have a final tally this week.

Heritage Tractor Inc., of Baldwin and Paola, plans to donate toward the cause, while Orlando's, a Kansas City nightclub, pledged a portion of cover receipts to the drive.

If everything goes according to Urich's plan, Ward again will have a tractor parked in his barn.

"It's a very nice thing," Ward said about Urich's drive. "It's kind of humbling. We appreciate it."

Ward's tractor was an Allis-Chalmers, which no longer is made. Urich, who said he grew up in a John Deere family, wants green in Ward's barn.

If the drive is successful, Ward could receive an early Christmas present.

"That would be great," Ward said.

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