The farming community in Ritzville, Washington, rallied in an effort to help out a fellow farmer who’d been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
On Sunday afternoon, dozens of combines and bankouts filled Larry Yockey’s fields in effort to repay him for his contributions to the Ritzville community.
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Farmer Brian Doyle was one of the men instrumental in harvesting wheat crops from Yockey’s fields.
“The way all of us look at it, it’s a way to pay him back,” Doyle explained. “I mean, he didn’t want this at all. He wanted to do it, but we just feel it’s a way to pay him back.”
Doctors diagnosed Yockey with melanoma that spread to his skeletal system and ravaged his bones. He told KREM-TV that the prognosis has not been good.
“The cancer has spread to my bones, so I have a broken hip and ribs,” he said.
Yockey said that this was the first year that he worried that he wouldn’t be able to harvest his fields.
“I was 13 years old when I started here, and I’m 63 now, so it’s been a few years,” Yockey said. “I’ve been out here my whole life. I was hoping, of all hopes, I could do this.”
Doyle and company were able to bring 18 semis, 17 combines, and 11 bankouts to help harvest Yockey’s fields. The combined workforce was able to wipe out 21 days’ worth of harvesting in just six hours on a plot of 1,200 acres.
“It looks overwhelming, but it wasn’t,” Doyle told KLXY-TV. “You know, a matter of a few phone calls and things start to happen in a hurry.”
Yockey said that he has nothing but gratitude for the Ritzville farmers that helped him out.
“You hope you don’t have to go through this to find it out, but every few years, believe it or not, we go through this. We support each other — even people that you think you’ve had disagreements with. This pulls everybody together,” he said. “It’s not describable the gratitude I have for what’s going on today.”