The 16th annual Visit the Villages Tractor Trek, was a huge success, attracting tractor enthusiasts and supporters of mental health services. The event, organized to raise funds for Eden Health Care Services, showcased a remarkable collection of vintage tractors over 40 years old, with various brands, colours, and sizes.
"I know we're doing good things for other people... being number one doesn't matter as much as it getting done right," said Armin Ens, who has led the tractor trek for 16 years.
Sixteen years ago the fundraiser aimed for 40 tractors 40 years or older, 40 kilometers, and $40,000. At that rate, over 25 years they would have collected a million dollars through the Tractor Trek. Ens said it's quite likely they will reach it this year. Nine years ahead of schedule.
"It's very good to see all the different people come together from other communities and the camaraderie it brings. It's good to see, and we're raising money for mental health issues, and it's getting more attention these days. I think it's good to finally be talking about stuff that was always hidden," said Ron Gerbrandt, who is on Eden Heath Care Service's board of directors.
The trek kicked off at the Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Winkler, with the route circling villages in the surrounding area. Trekkers made their way through the villages, stopping for a delightful lunch in the Blumengart Colony. The journey continued passing through Neuenberg and eventually finishing back at the starting point. A banquet at the Emmanuel Mennonite Church marked the end of the event, providing trekkers with an opportunity to celebrate.
"I'm just so grateful for all of our local business sponsors... they're putting forward money because they support mental healthcare, which is so greatly needed in this community. I'm so grateful for our trekkers, doing this all together has a great sense of community, and really goes along with our vision statement of hope, healing, and community," said Jayme Giesbrecht, Eden Foundation's Director of Development.
The importance of the Tractor Trek meant so much more than a parade of vintage tractors, funds raised through the event supported Eden's Segue Career Options, employment services, housing support, and Recovery of Hope counselling. The community breakfast, catered by Arlene Dueck and her team served as a trekkers' send-off. Thanks to the generosity of local business sponsors and the donations collected by the trekkers, all funds raised were directed toward Eden's mental health programs and projects.
"We enjoy it very much, it brings back old memories from farm life... when we bring our children they can see something that they didn't experience any other way. So it keeps history alive," said Mavis Dyck, who attended the Tractor Trek.
The Tractor Trek not only celebrated the rich heritage of vintage tractors but also highlighted the importance of supporting mental health services in the community. With each passing year, this event continues to unite tractor enthusiasts and supporters, leaving a positive impact on the lives of those in need.