WALSHVILLE, Ill. - During his busiest time of year, a local farmer’s family was thrown a major curveball.
Now, his community is coming together to get an important job done.
Doug Pezold helps run a farm in Walshville, Ill. with his father and brother. The family grows corn and beans, and this is the time of year for harvest.
Just last week, the family received some unexpected news. Doug’s 18-year old son, Layton, was diagnosed with leukemia.
“We’re hanging in there. It’s tough, but we’re getting through it,” he said.
Layton, who had just begun his freshman year at Illinois State University, is now getting treatment at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Ill.
There’s never a good time for a cancer diagnosis, but the family is facing this health challenge at the same time their livelihood – the farm – requires the most work. But, the Pezold’s soon learned they wouldn’t have to choose between farm and family.
“Just got together, working together, and get things rolling,” explained Steve Heyen, one of several neighboring farmers who decided to help. With a few phone calls, friends got busy recruiting each other to help with the Pezold’s harvest this year.
“This is [Doug’s] entire wages and income for the entire year, right here,” explained another farmer, Robby Meyer. “That's the thing. He has to collect his money.”
More than a dozen people showed up at the Pezold farm on Wednesday, and a few others came by Thursday. They brought their semis, tractors and grain carts and worked late into the evening to get the job done.
“With us helping, it’s going to maybe knock off another week,” added Corey Johnson, a farmer from Litchfield. “So he can go and spend time with his boy.”
“I’ve known we always had very good friends who would do anything for us, [as] we would for them,” Pezold said. “But it’s their busy time of the year, too, and some of them aren’t done and they came to help me. I’m very appreciative.”
None of the farmers wanted to take credit for their help, insisting its just how this community supports each other. But their efforts are noticed – a post on Facebook from one family member expressing gratitude has been shared hundreds of times since Wednesday.
“We try to help each other out,” Heyen said.
“This is just what we do. It’s one thing we can do,” added Johnson.
Pezold said his son, Layton, has an incredible spirit and is battling the cancer bravely.
“He’s a great, strong kid,” the father said. “He will make it through it, I’m confident. But he’s got a long road ahead of him.”
The family is asking for prayers and posting updates on a Facebook Page – Pezold Strong.