Man drives tractor from Washington to Minnesota to raise money for Parkinson's research

By John Lauritsen

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    HIBBING, Minnesota (WCCO) -- Imagine driving cross country, 1,800 miles, in a tractor. A Washington state man just did it for an important cause.

The whole thing sort of began as a joke. Mike Adkinson's brother-in-law always talked about needing a tractor.

So, Mike would sarcastically offer to drive his tractor from Bellingham, Washington to Perch Lake, Minnesota. Then, one day, it wasn't a joke anymore.

"Finally I thought you know, at 76 I could use a challenge like that, so I'm gonna do that," said Adkinson.

Before he left on the 1,800-mile journey, Adkinson got another reason to go. His brother Dan was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

"It really hit our family really hard, and of course there's not much you can do to help. So, I just thought you know what? I think I can raise donations by doing this," said Adkinson.

So he did. He drove through snow, sleet and, at times, an unforgiving sun. The tractor's right wheels were always a foot from the ditch. And any time a truck passed by, he got muddy. Adkinson's John Deere tops out at about 15 miles an hour, which is a major reason why it took him six weeks to travel from Washington to Minnesota.

The miles went by slowly, but the donations piled up quickly. By the time he reached Minnesota, Adkinson had raised more than $50,000 for Parkinson's research. He'd spend his nights in motels, and during the day people would give him donations and treats.

"One guy stopped me and he had beef jerky, and another couple stopped and they had chocolate brownies," said Adkinson. "I really enjoy meeting people."

And they enjoyed meeting the tractor guy, and his 15-mile-an-hour mission to help others.

"He's the most caring, genuine, passionate person I know, and it was for such a good cause that we're all supportive and we're just thankful he made it here in one piece," said niece Kendra Raich. "It takes a special person, but that's Uncle Mike."

Adkinson has now officially raised over $52,000 for Parkinson's disease.

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