Right before Thanksgiving, Tabby and Jacob Warstler made a very special delivery. They stopped into the Pediatric unit at Parkview Regional Medical Center to personally hand over the second of “Max’s Tractors,” a handcrafted toy honoring the memory of their late son. Just like the first, which resides in the Pediatric ICU (PICU), this gift was brimming with tractor toys and other goodies picked by Max’s sisters, sure to deliver big smiles. Jacob shared the family’s inspiration and intention for the thoughtful program.
What can you share about Max’s story?
Our son, Max, was in a pool accident at the age of 18 months. He was rushed to Parkview DeKalb Hospital where they worked on him and got a heartbeat. We were then rushed to Parkview Regional Medical Center, where we were told he wouldn't make it through the night. But little man was a fighter, and he did. We got to spend three more days with him before we were forced to say goodbye due to brain damage. During that time, we were exposed to the great service that the hospital and support staff provided.
What inspired you to start making tractors in his memory?
Max's connection to tractors is what motivates us to put tractors in this hospital environment, to help support children who are in the hospital overnight or for an extended period of time. Max was raised on a grain farm, where we farmed corn and soybeans. If he wasn't in a tractor, he was playing with them. In our hearts, making these toys and donating them is another way to keep him known and remembered. The toys are meant to be a pick me up or a way to lift their spirits while they’re in the hospital. They can lighten the mood and give them something to enjoy if they're able.
What can you share about the design and construction of the tractors?
The idea behind the tractor was to find a really cool way to deliver toys to the children; one that would get them excited about what's in it and the fact that it looks cool and fun. I came up with the decal, and the rendering came from Tabby's cousin, who felt led to collaborate with us and manage the whole build of the cart.
While I am a welder by trade, and full intentions of making the tractors myself, unfortunately, I was too busy. We had a volunteer from Kendallville who wanted to donate his time and build them for us.
What is the long-term goal for “Max’s Tractors”?
The idea is to see where it goes and who has the need. We’d like to set up a non-for profit and just build on it and see where it leads us. Our main goal is to gift and comfort the families who are in need in the hospital. The project allows us to remember our son and to give tractors to comfort those children just as tractors did for him when we were in the hospital.
We would really like to thank Parkview for the opportunity to give to the children and community.
Max's Tractors were gifted to the Parkview Foundations for pediatric patients. The Foundations ensure that all gifts are given to the correct areas of the health system and used with the intent of the donor in mind. Learn more about ways you can make a gift.