Family and friends harvest crops as farmer is treated for cancer

MERNA, Neb. (AP) – The sound of brotherly and neighborly love echoed in the cornfields near Merna on Tuesday.

Family and friends gathered to complete Greg Coleman’s corn harvest. Coleman was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year and was unable to complete the harvest due to treatments.

Arnold’s brother Neil Coleman said Broken Bow’s cousin Jim Coleman organized an effort that resulted in at least 10 combines and about 45 grain trucks working together to pick about 1,000 acres of corn.

“A lot of time was spent coming and going in Lincoln, which interrupted (Greg’s) harvest,” said Neil. “My cousin Jim has neighbors from everywhere, from Merna Valley, to Arnold Valley, to Broken Bow, to Sargent. Everyone just picks their corn in one day.

Neil said at least 10 families were helping, with each team making about 160 acres every two hours.

“It’s just humiliating,” Neil told the North Platte Telegraph.

Butch Johnson, a neighbor and helper, said it was a great effort.

“It’s amazing the number of neighbors who have all come together to do something like this for someone who needs it,” Johnson said.

Neil said the drivers gave up a day of their vacation to help.

“We had all the combines and everything cleaned,” Johnson said with a laugh.

To rent the combines, said Neil, the cost is around $ 450 to $ 500 an hour.

“These people give it all, their employees, the use of trucks and their tractors,” Neil said. “It’s incredible.”

The Coleman family has had four generations of farmers who work the land.

“My grandfather started in 1887 and we still own the original neighborhood,” Neil said. “Where I grew up started around 1890 and there are two quarters there. The fifth generation is coming now. Chad Coleman, Greg’s son, also cultivates with his father.

Greg’s son Chad said he was overwhelmed by the effort.

“Neighbors, family and friends came together to help Dad finish his harvest,” Chad said. “I never thought it would be such a big deal, and these guys went above and beyond to help us.”

Chad said the harvest is going faster than he thought.

“It was important for Thomas Feed Mill and Adams Land and Cattle to save time and space for our harvest so that we could fulfill our contracts,” Chad said.

Chad said Greg is still undergoing cancer treatment.

“He’s doing his chemo and stuff, so we take him one treatment at a time,” Chad said. “He is starting to feel better and has to return for further treatment. It’s a little difficult to see it that way.

Greg and his wife, LeAnne, have four grown children: Stephanie Evans, Michaela Spurling, Chad and Lindsey Taylor.

“I just want to thank everyone who helped out,” Chad said.

Bruning Bank in Broken Bow provided meals for all volunteers. AKRS Equipment Solutions, Broken Bow’s John Deere dealer, delivered the meals. Off Broadway, which is an assisted living facility in Broken Bow where Greg and Neil’s mother resides, baked cookies for the crews.

The Broken Bow Dairy Queen has released Dilly Bars for everyone.

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