On Thursday 25th March, a group of Kiwi blokes driving their Chamberlain tractors will depart New Plymouth trekking south. Destination: Wheels at Wanaka.
Steve Day is the driving force behind the Heartland Tractor Trek. The Taranaki businessman and a number of fellow tractor-loving Chamberlain owners will be driving their distinctive tractors down the country to raise funds for Heart Kids.
The charity provides practical and emotional support to children and their families living with congenital heart defects (CHDs) but receives no government funding.
For Steve, the Heartland Tractor Trek is incredibly personal. His grandson, Oliver, was diagnosed with a rare and complex congenital heart defect before birth.
Since he was born in May 2019, Oliver has already had three open heart surgeries and will need further surgery and treatment throughout his life.
After seeing the support his family received from Heart Kids, Steve decided he wanted to give something back, and so the Heartland Tractor Trek was born.
Covering more than 2,200km, the trek will travel from Taranaki to Wellington, and then ferry to Picton. From there, the initial three tractors will head to Rangiora to meet up with the rest of the convoy for the start of the main trek.
The full complement of nine Chamberlain tractors will continue south, visiting schools, clubs and towns along the way, raising funds and awareness for Heart Kids.
The Tractor Trek travels through Otago arriving in time to participate in the Wheels at Wanaka event over Easter, where Heart Kids is the event charity.
Steve says the trek is a way to combine two of his passions: family and Chamberlain tractors.
“As a grandparent any time spent with your grandkids is precious, but it really hits home when they have been through more than you can imagine possible. I wanted to be able to do something for Heart Kids to thank the team for all they have done for our family since Oli was diagnosed.
“I’m looking forward to taking my 9G for a trek and spending time with other Chamberlain enthusiasts,” says Steve.
It should be a fairly comfortable trip, the 9G has a sprung front axle and I can always take out the windows if it gets too hot in the cab.”
Chief executive of Heart Kids, Mark Longbottom, is looking forward to following the progress of the trek, tracking the Chamberlains as they head to Wanaka.
“Heart Kids is incredibly honoured to be the beneficiary of Steve’s passion and sense of adventure.
“One in 100 babies in New Zealand will be born with a heart defect. Our professional support staff and volunteers provide practical and emotional support to families of heart children.
We couldn’t do what we do without the selfless efforts of supporters like Steve,” says Mark.
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For more information:
To find when the Tractor Trek is in town or to make a donation visit www.heartlandtractortrek.nz.
About Heart Kids
Heart Kids is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support services to kids, teens, adults living with a childhood heart condition and their families. It is the only organisation in NZ dedicated to supporting heart kids through life, but it gets no government funding to do this.
Heart Kids provides practical and emotional support to help those affected to cope with the immediate and ongoing challenges of living with a heart condition.
Services provided by Heart Kids include information, education, training, counselling, specialist equipment, camps, family matching, social affiliation and financial assistance. www.heartkids.org.nz