Since 2006, Farm Rescue has been helping farmers and ranchers in a five-state region who are dealing with an illness, injury or natural disaster. Today, we introduce you to a farmer in Velva who is grateful to be alive, and for the help of others.

For fourth-generation farmer Joel Newman, this past year has been everything but typical. Last summer, he went in for a routine physical, and various tests and procedures over the past year showed there was something wrong with the function of his liver.

“I had surgery on the 15 of July and they had to remove the right portion or about 60 percent of my liver to get rid of the disease,” said Newman.

The surgery was a success and cancer tests came back negative, but Newman and his family had another hurdle to face– completing their harvest as he recovered from the major surgery.

Newman added, “It was a critical time. I wanted the doctors to try and push it off until winter if we could. A little bit slower time with pace. The pressure was knowing that recovery could be up to eight weeks. We hope that it’s up to six and trying to get the wheat crop off before a wet season moves in and quality becomes an issue.”

That’s where Farm Rescue stepped in.

Volunteers from all over the country showed up to fill the gap for Newman and his family, harvesting more than 900 acres of wheat.

“He’s going to be kind of held up for the next few weeks, and so we wanted to coordinate volunteers and equipment to come in and kind of get him through that crisis and fill that gap and keep them doing what they love to do,” said Dan Erdmann, program manager for Farm Rescue.

“It’s been fun to get to know these individuals that are not just North Dakota people, but there are from as far away from the west coast to Illinois, and Kentucky and everywhere in between,” added Newman.

Now that his fall harvest is done, Newman can focus on recovering and getting back to what he loves the most.

“We struggle with the right words to say for our gratitude, we just have to simply say thank you,” said Newman.

Newman’s case was also a special one to Farm Rescue. His harvest was the 700th rescue they’ve been able to do.