TORRINGTON – It was an opportunity too good to pass up for Dick and Carolee Ourada.
The opportunity was to raise money for the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation which will be used for child health research.
It is a hospital close to both of their hearts as both have had close family saved by the Children’s Hospital.
“Not many get an opportunity to go out and take a shot at raising money $100,000 to $200,000 for a good cause,” Dick said.
More than two years ago the Ourada’s bought a tractor located in Iowa because it is difficult to buy a tractor in Alaska, where the couple reside.
“The few there don’t come up for sale, because if you have one, you have 15 friends who want it,” Dick said. “We built an abounded house into a super-efficient house on six acres. We thought we’d like to have a tractor to clean up the ground and work on the house.”
It was hauled to Holyoke, Colorado where the Ourada’s still have a farm and shop where Dick was a long-time farmer before retiring.
The couple decided to visit Alaska, and after a lengthy visit the northern most state, they decided to make it their new home near Fairbanks.
However, health issues and COVID got in the way of them bringing the 1977 Case tractor, named Aggie, back to Alaska until this summer.
“The tractor was down here ready to pick up, and I had a heart thing,” Dick said. “They cut me open and did a bunch of stuff. I was in a heck of a shape. Then COVID came. It’s been two years with the tractor sitting at home in Colorado.”
Then the question became, how do they get back to Alaska. They talked about driving it back. They also discussed hauling or shipping it back.
Either way, it was going to be pricey for them to get it back to Alaska, but over those two years, it gave them a chance to go over the tractor from front to back.
That’s when the idea of the fundraiser for the hospital came about.
“The Children’s Hospital saved my daughter’s live when she was three days old,” Dick said. “It was a perfectly normal birth, but she refused to eat. The doctors didn’t know what to do, and on that third day, they were getting desperate.”
That’s when they were sent to Children’s Hospital, and they had to leave their daughter behind because adults weren’t allowed in.
“We handed her trying not to assume we wouldn’t get her back. They said stick around until 8 a.m., and we’ll tell you,” Dick explained. “We went back the next morning, almost afraid to go back, but they said we fixed her. They gave her a special nipple they had designed for premature babies. That put her on that, and she took right to it.”
Now Dick’s daughter is fully grown up and lives and works in Chadron, Nebraska.
Carolee also had a nephew who benefited from a stay at the hospital.
“Carolee isn’t my original wife, as I’ve lost a couple of wives, but Carolee’s nephew was also saved as a baby by that hospital,” Dick said.
He was six weeks old when he went into the hospital with heart issues.
“It’s such a wonderful thing to see lives saved. It all comes down to research. We have so money in research, but we have cancer, heart trouble that everyone thinks of first. There are so many other things no one ever thinks about like what if a kid don’t eat,” Dick said. “The child mortality rate in the United States isn’t something to be proud of. It’s a sad fact that doesn’t get advertised very much. This money is ear-marked for special projects.”
Dick described the first part of the trip as “good” despite some bumps in the road.
“It’s been eventful,” he added. “We’ve had our problems, but they’ve all worked themselves out. You find the humanity of people out here are so nice.”
They had no brakes coming into Scottsbluff, Nebraska on Monday due to air getting into the brake line. They had to search for a valve to solve another problem on the tractor.
They had to turn to a manufacturer in Hays, Kansas, and after discussing what they were doing, the manufacturer ultimately fixed them up with the needed valve at no cost to them.
“Case has worked with us very well. They aren’t a sponsor, but they have stayed a step back so they weren’t subject to any kind of liability,” Dick said. “They gave us the names of all the owners and dealers and gave us access to a marketing company they use a lot. They’ve been very helpful.”
The couple plotted their route back home with many stops at the Case dealers in mind.
“We had two good roads – one that took us through Saskatchewan and one that took us through Alberta, which is the one we chose,” Dick said.
They hope to be back home near Fairbanks, Alaska in the next 60 days, traveling at a max of 20 mph.
“If we just got on the tractor and drove 10 hours a day, we could do it in 20 days, but we are spending about 60 days by the time we stop here and there,” Dick said. “We are always looking for anything out of the way, like the museum in Scottsbluff. We also want to spend time at some of the dealers.”
They were scheduled to reach Lusk where they planned to spend Tuesday night before moving on north to Gillette by Wednesday.
For more information, follow their journey to Alaska or to donate visit the Ourada’s on Facebook at facebook.com/tractortripforkids/ or their website at tractortrip.com.
“It’s just a method to meeting people and getting our name out there,” Dick said. “When we left Holyoke, almost no one knew who we were, expect for our friends and neighbors. Since then, we’ve had one letter from Germany and one person in Alberta wants us to stop and stay at their house. Our job is to be in sight and make sure everyone knows how to find us on the internet.”
So far, in their short journey from Colorado to Torrington, the couple has been able to raise $4,000 out of the $100,000 goal.
“We are hoping to surpass that,” Dick said. “We’ll have to see how it plays out.”