Published on Wednesday, April 30, 2014
One by one tears began to form, sprinting down my cheeks as if they were in a marathon. Knowing the tears were endless, I pulled over, rolled my window down, and looked across the open field. The wind grazed across my face, sweeping away tears from the finish line. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity, my heart full of happiness and heartache.
Several months ago I shared how the Why I Farm movement has changed my life. You can find part one here. Well, it hasn’t stopped affecting me, continuing to change not only my life each and every day, but the lives of others.
On April 19, 2014 I drove away from Triple S Farms in Windfall, Ind., with tears in my eyes. Because on that Saturday morning, I had a front row seat to God’s work.
Tears from the Heart
Arriving an hour early, we wanted to interview Scott Smith, owner of Triple S Farms, before our guests arrived. It was my second time interviewing Scott. We sat down, each of us with coffee in hand. As we talked through the interview questions, I was nervous. Nervous because this time it was on camera. Nervous because I had to ask very personal questions. And nervous because I wanted to do the story justice.
You see, Scott participated in the Why I Farm movement and he became the winner of the “That’s WhyIFarm” Contest. In case you’re not familiar with Why I Farm, I’ll give you a brief background.
In July 2013, Beck’s Hybrids launched the Why I Farm movement. A movement that tells the story of the hardworking American farmer, who dedicates their life to a job they do selflessly, seven days a week. Instead of Beck’s telling their stories, we hosted a contest for farmers across the Midwest to share their story. After seven months, 136 stories were shared, 11,519 people voted, and 417,488 votes were cast.
Since Scott’s story received the most votes, he won a prize of free Beck’s seed. But that’s not why we were interviewing him. As the winner of the “That’s WhyIFarm” Contest, Scott did something bigger than we ever imagined.
From the very first question, Scott had tears in his eyes. But those tears, those were tears of strength, courage, happiness, and heartache. He’s passionate about his faith, family, farm, and giving back. And when he talks about all those together, he’s not afraid to show his emotions.
After the interview was done, our day wasn’t over. It had barely begun.
We waited outside under the canopy of God’s blue sky. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day. As the van came to a stop, a young man opened the passenger side door.
Standing in the barn lot of Triple S Farms, 20 year old Joshua Jank adjusted the small backpack on his shoulder. Filled with oxygen, only light breaths from the tank could be heard. As he shook hands with Scott and Terri Smith tears formed in their eyes, not out of sadness, but joy.
They were meeting for the first time after learning of Joshua’s inspirational story four months ago.
Adopted at six months old from a family in northeastern Indiana, Joshua not only faces the challenges of Sickle Cell Anemia, but in 2012 he was diagnosed with a terminal illness that affects the lungs and liver. An unimaginably strong young man, Joshua has been living each day to the fullest, striving to complete a “Go Make a Difference (M.A.D.) list” that shoots for miracles-in-the-making. On his list there is one very important goal – find a forever home for a 13 year old boy named Jing. (You can read more about Joshua's story here.)
So how did Joshua plan to achieve his goal? Because of his love for farming, he entered in the “That’s WhyIFarm” Contest in hopes of putting the winning prize toward Jing’s adoption. Although he doesn’t farm, Joshua has a special place in his heart for agriculture and the farmers who feed the world.
Scott, Terri, Joshua and his mom, Brenda, talked for nearly 10 minutes in the barn lot. I watched tears roll down their cheeks. I watched them hug. And I watched a group of strangers become family in a matter of seconds.
Paying it Forward
For Scott and Terri, there was no question. They knew if their farm won the “That’s WhyIFarm” Contest, they had to give back.
“As soon as we saw Joshua’s story, we were not only captivated by his strength, but his generosity to help someone in need,” said Scott. “We knew if our farm won the “That’s WhyIFarm” Contest, we had to help Joshua find a forever home for this young boy.”
Scott and Terri donated $2,500 toward the adoption aid for Jing. As he talked to Joshua and Brenda tears formed in his eyes. He explained that for him part of winning is giving back. It’s the opportunity to pay it forward.
But Scott didn’t stop there. One of his employees recently lost his wife to cancer. Since she carried the insurance through her employer, their insurance was lost after her passing. So Scott and Terri donated funds to be used toward their insurance needs.
I’ll admit, I couldn’t hold back tears during the meeting. I was so honored to be part of this moment, to have the opportunity to tell their story, and witness God’s work right in front of my eyes.
Why I Farm
After both interviews were complete, Joshua had one thing on his mind. The farm.
With a love for agriculture, he couldn’t wait to spend time on the farm so Scott gave him the full tour. They rode in the John Deere 9560RT tractor. Walked through the grain setup. Jumped in the cab of the sprayer. Learned about growing tomatoes. And walked through the grain setup.
If you didn’t know Joshua's story, you would have never known he was ill. He walked with such determination. At each stop, he asked questions. Lots of questions. Watching his face light up when he saw a new piece of equipment or learned a new piece of information was worth every moment.
And as we walked from stop to stop, I couldn’t stop thinking about how the Why I Farm movement has come full circle. A campaign that started nine months ago has truly evolved into a movement, touching people’s lives in ways we never thought it could.
As I sat along the side of the road, tears streaming down my face, I felt honored to be part of a movement that is changing lives. And I felt honored to share the story of a farmer and a young boy who bonded over their passion of paying it forward.
To hear Scott and Joshua’s story, please watch the video below. But I’ll warn you, grab a tissue. And if you’d like to help Joshua find Jing a forever home, please visit www.reddiamonddays.com.
Author: Ashley Fischer
Categories: Why I Farm
Tags: agriculture, farming, Why I Farm, #whyifarm, Beck's Hybrids, John Deere, Joshua Jank, Why I Farm Contest, adoption, Why I Farm movement, #payitforward, Scott Smith, Triple S Farms, That's WhyIFarm Contest
Marketing Communications Manager at Beck's.
5/1/2014 5:45 PM
Such a touching story! I'm so proud that my daughter accepted a job with Beck's Hybrids. What a great company to work for!
Best of luck to Joshua, Jing, and Scott's employee.
5/2/2014 1:35 AM
Farm with Organic and non GMO seeds! How about that?