The Incredible Way This Community Rallied Around an Ailing Farmer to Create 'Amazing Harvest'

The small city of Galva, Illinois, banded together.

ByABC News
October 12, 2015, 1:04 PM

— -- When a small community in Illinois learned of a local farmer's terminal cancer diagnosis, they pulled together the way they usually do and harvested all of his 450 acres of corn - in one day.

Carl Bates, 55, of Galva, Illinois, has a "fast, aggressive cancer," according to his younger brother Ernie Bates, that is affecting many parts of his body, including his kidney and spinal column, according to his family.

While he was resting at home in hospice care, choosing not to undergo treatment, his family said, the community decided to come together to complete the harvest in a day for what should have taken about a week.

Carl's cousin, Dan, first had the idea to get the community together to help out the ailing farmer. From there, about 40 people donated trucks and labor to harvest 450 acres in 10 hours. It's typical to harvest 80 acres a day, he said.

PHOTO: Farmers gather to help harvest Carl Bates' corn crop on September 25, 2015 in Galva, Illinois.
Farmers gather to help harvest Carl Bates' corn crop on September 25, 2015 in Galva, Illinois.

Melissa Bates, Dan Bates' daughter-in-law and Carl's first cousin once removed, said the family has been surprised by the national attention on the community pulling together.

"It’s not a new thing. Farmers have been pulling together like this forever, when someone is ill or has an accident, just in our daily life," she said. "It wasn’t like it was a big deal to organize it. People are just like, 'Oh yeah I’ll come and donate a day.' It wasn’t even thought about. We just come together and do it. Even people who were not very close to their family wanted to be involved. I think if they are in the same situation, you can’t do it by yourself."

Local grain broker Rumbold and Kuhn donated 12 of 16 trucks for the work that took place on September 25.

"It was very awe inspiring," Ernie Bates, 53, told ABC News. "The small town came together and put on a tremendous showing, from bringing food to working. We enjoyed the camaraderie. Everyone was very pleasant and worked extremely hard and that is attributable to Carl. He’s a very likable individual."

Farming runs in the Bates family, which has lived in the tight-knit community in Galva for generations.

"Carl has been a farmer since he was 4 or 5 years old. My dad farmed forever. And his dad farmed forever," Bates said. He describes his brother as a "quiet, reserved guy," and "probably one of the toughest people you'll ever meet."

Carl, who "has never complained and never given up," Ernie said, is the type to refuse charity, but he was appreciative of the community's support.

"He was very pleased and impressed," Ernie said. "He’s the type of guy that has always done for himself. He doesn’t ask for any help and doesn’t want any help. He was very pleased with everybody and happy they came out."