The fifth annual Knights of Columbus Journey for Charity Tractor Cruise was a “huge success,” according to Rich Bolzenius, grand knight of the Union council.

The 30-mile tractor cruise was held Sunday, Sept. 9, to raise funds and collect food for Franklin County food pantries.

The Union, Washington, St. John’s-Gildehaus and St. Clair councils organized the cruise.

Though the grand total is not yet known, Bolzenius said it’s shaping up to be a great year.

“It looks like we’re going to at least meet and possibly beat last year,” he said. “I am exceptionally happy. There was perfect weather, a great group of workers and team members. Everyone gave 100 percent plus.”

Bolzenius added that there are many behind the scenes people who contribute to the smooth running of the event, from each city’s police department, the sheriff’s department, highway patrol, those cooking and serving food after the event, running the kids pedal tractor pull, securing sponsors, those who donate and others.

“There’s no one person who makes the event successful. There are so many people behind the scenes that you’ll never hear about or see,” he said. “Without one spoke of the wheel, it wouldn’t run smoothly.”

 This year, more than 80 tractors participated and the event is on track to match or beat last year’s total of $18,000. Once collected and accounted for, the money will be split between the four organizing councils to donate to their choice of pantries.

During the route, about 1,000 pounds of food also was collected to donate to the pantries. Last year, which was the first year the groups also collected food, about 300 pounds of food was donated.

“Every year when we (deliver the checks) we talk to the folks from the food pantry and it automatically motivates us to get started on the next year,” Bolzenius said. “We see how desperate they are.”

Bolzenius said the pantries picked up the food donation Sunday. The money will be presented soon.

National Recognition

John Jasper, past grand knight, said the councils will be recognized in the The Knights of Columbus Columbia magazine.

The supreme council, located in New Haven, Conn. sent out camera crews and will use the footage to kick off a national campaign within the organization, “Feed the Families.”

“At Knights of Columbus conventions the past couple of years, (members) have said this is the first time they’ve seen four councils join forces to do an event, and they were pretty impressed,” he said. “It shows what can be done when everybody can hold hands to do an event like this. There’s no way one council could do this.”

Bolzenius estimates there are some 500 man-hours spent planning and executing the one-day event.

“And not one hiccup,” Jasper said.

Continue to Grow

Jasper said his favorite part of the event is always when Father Bob Knight blesses the fleet. Drivers who have passed away also are recognized during the ceremony. He also enjoys presenting checks to the local food pantries.

Bolzenius said the councils will continue to make the journey grow.

“I’m certain next year will be better,” he said. “We’re always impressed with how the community steps up, and all the sponsors who help over and over again.”

“We cannot thank the community enough for allowing us to do this,” Jasper added. “This is a great community to be a part of.”

The sixth annual Journey for Charity Tractor Cruise will be held the Sunday after Labor Day weekend, 2013.