A FATHER and his two sons will spend ten to twelve hours driving tractors on Saturday next, not ploughing or planting, but spreading awareness of cancer.
Allen Wylie, from Drumany, Letterkenny and his sons Trevor and Alan (jnr) will leave the Bonagee roundabout at 11.30am on Saturday morning next, September 24, where they will be joined by more than one hundred vintage tractors for the sixth annual Alan Wylie Tractor Run.
The tractor run has already raised almost €50,000 for the Good and New cancer bus service from Donegal to Galway in the five years since its inception, with €5,000 going to the Cancer West Lodge in Galway in each of the last two years.
The fund-raising effort is the brainchild of Allen Wylie, who was a patient on the bus two years ago. Allen is a prostate cancer survivor and has been cancer-free for more than a year.
“We’ve been organising it for five years now and we usually have a good turnout. We had 102 tractors last year and it’s great to be able to raise money for such a good cause, to help bring cancer patients from Donegal to Galway,” he said.
This year, funds raised will be split between the Good and New cancer bus service, the Cancer West Lodge and the Donegal Hospice.
“I lost my brother-in-law to cancer and saw first hand the great work that they do at the Donegal Hospice so I’ve decided to add them this year,” he said.
“It’s a great family day out as a convoy of tractors, of all shapes and sizes, make their way along the hard shoulder between Letterkenny and Bridgend,” he added.
A retired farmer, Allen (74) said that cancer had yet to visit their house when he first came up with the idea for the tractor run.
“I met a man who got off a bus in Ballybofey one day and we got talking. He explained that he had just been in Galway for cancer treatment but said that it was very expensive. He had to take a taxi from Glenties to Galway on one particular occasion to get marked ahead of treatment and it cost him €280. Then the Good and New bus started and I thought it was a great idea so I decided to try and raise a few euro through a tractor run.
“Little did I realise that I would be using the bus myself two years ago when I got prostate cancer but, thankfully, I’m okay now,” he said.
“We have sponsorship sheets on the go and all the monies raised go to the relevant charities. It’s getting bigger and better each year and I owe a debt of gratitude to the tractor men who have come on board, the Gardai would help look after us each year and to the people at the diner at Bonagee who provide us with a breakfast before we get underway,” he said.
“Last year we raised €26,675 and, up to date, we’ve given the Good and New cancer bus €48,000.
“We have a collection of vintage tractors so we decided to organise a tractor run out of Letterkenny on the last Saturday in September. I didn’t get to drive last year due to illness but I hope to be back behind the wheel of a 1969 David Brown next Saturday,” he said.
While the boys will spend next Saturday driving their vintage tractors, Allen reserved special praise for his wife Jean who looks after the paperwork, not to forget his two daughters Linda and Amanda.
“Jean keeps us all right,” he smiled.
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