Local man drives tractor from Florida to New Buffalo - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Local man drives tractor from Florida to New Buffalo in honor of friend

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Today was the final leg of a local man's three-week fundraising trip from Chiefland, Florida to New Buffalo, MI.

Darren Hayes is the man behind the journey. His almost 1,500-mile journey began on August 29 in honor of his friend Matt and Matt's daughter Elyse.

"We decided to do a benefit for my friend Matt who's dying from brain cancer," Hayes says. "His daughter died a year ago from the same ailment."

In honor of those two very important people in Darren' life, he decided to donate three weeks of his life to this tractor trip. His goal was to raise as much money as possible for Riley Children's Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House.

Darren made stops along the way in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. He pulled a small stage behind him and played in parking lots to help raise even more funds. He had nothing but great things to say about the people he met.

"They've given me an opportunity to come into their homes, meet their family, meet their friends, brought me cases of water, ice, dinner," Hayes says. It's definitely been a good ride."

Hayes found the same level of love and support at his final stop in New Buffalo.

"I think what this young man is doing is so exciting and so brave of him to do this," New Buffalo resident Linda Dickison says. "I mean, 1400 miles on a tractor?!"

For others in the welcome party, the cause Hayes rode for hit home.

Several years ago, my great nephew, who's now nine, was airlifted from Michigan City to Riley's Children's Hospital because his appendix burst. He was in the hospital for 2.5 weeks."

Hayes hopes the donations he collected along the way and the money from auctioning off his tractor on Saturday, help him reach his $30,000 goal.

To find more information about his trip and how you can donate, check out the "Track the Tractor" website and Facebook page.

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