In time of need, a helping hand
WORTHINGTON -- On the south side of Olson Park Wednesday afternoon, four high school kids kept their balance as they stood on a hay rack waiting for small square bales of grass hay to eject from a hay baler. At one point, as they neared a photographer, they all paused to flex their muscles for the camera.
The Allis Chalmers pulling the equipment was driven by Paul Hohensee, a rural Worthington farmer who organized the hay-baling event to help the Wayne Klumper family. Klumper, who raises sheep on his farm south of town, remains under sedation in the Sanford Hospital Intensive Care Unit in Sioux Falls, S.D., following a June 25 motorcycle crash not far from the field where nearly a dozen men gathered on Wednesday.
"Our family experienced the same tragedy," Hohensee said, referring to a July 2009 crash of two ATVs on his farm that sent four boys to the hospital. Owen Hohensee, the most critical of the injured, was one of the four teens working on the hay rack Wednesday.
"All you concentrate on is the loved one that's hurt," Paul Hohensee said. "You don't care about your hay, you don't care about your crops. You just want to focus on them."
"I can't do much over there to help the situation, but I can help out by doing this," he added.
Hohensee put out a call for help last week, and with Andy Johnson, executive director of the Worthington Area YMCA -- where Klumper worked for many years -- word spread quickly through Facebook. Hohensee also mentioned the need for volunteers at Bedford Industries, where he works during the day.
"Everyone was baling hay and I knew (the Klumpers) weren't able to do their own," Hohensee said, adding that he and Dick Thompson provided the equipment, with members of the Worthington High School hockey team and other high schoolers providing the labor.
"All of us together -- many hands make light work," Hohensee shared.
He plans to organize more haying events for the Klumpers yet this summer, with hopes of putting up enough hay to feed the sheep through the winter months. Hohensee said he also plans to donate some of his own hay bales to the Klumpers.
Nathan Faragher, a soon-to-be 11th-grader at Worthington High School, has helped Klumper on the farm the past two summers. Wednesday, however, was the first time that he'd ever assisted with baling hay.
"It's not as hard as it looks,"he said. "What we did wasn't too bad."
Faragher, along with Jake Linder, Andrew Johnson and Owen Hohensee. stacked the grass hay bales on the rack, filling two racks by the time it was all done.
"I came out because I've always known Wayne," Linder said. "He's a nice guy and he's always helpful to other people, so you got to help Wayne out, too."
Hohensee was joined by three of his Bedford Industries co-workers to help in the baling, including Dave Tripp, Dan Hawkinson and Tim Kor.
For Hawkinson, coming to the aid of a farmer in need is nothing new.
"Whenever anybody asks for help," Hawkinson said of being a willing volunteer. "Neighbors have passed away, and we helped get their crops out. I have no connection to Wayne, just through Paul. He said he needed help."
Once the hay racks were filled, Klumper's neighbor, Rich Besel, hauled the racks the few miles down the road to the Klumper farm. There, Rylan Baumhoefner, Evan Eggers, Nick Newman and Deven Bents helped unload the hay.
"I know Wayne through the Y and through school," Besel said. "He's a good friend and neighbor. We're looking forward to actually seeing Wayne do some smiling."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Wayne and his family right now," Hohensee added.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.