A North Dakota farmer named Lane Unhjem had a heart attack trying to put out a fire on his combine during harvest. This could have meant a big loss for him and his family. However, around 40 to 50 local farmers, who knew Lane well, teamed up to harvest his 1,000 acres of crops in just seven hours, showing how tight-knit the community is.
In September 2020, Lane Unhjem, a grandfather from North Dakota, was harvesting wheat and canola when his combine caught fire. While trying to put it out, he had a severe heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. There, doctors found he also had kidney damage. Lane began dialysis and was added to a waiting list for a kidney transplant.
In the meantime, Lane’s neighbors rallied to help his family, drawing attention and praise from people globally online. One local said, “Everybody knows the Unhjems, and they’re good people and good in the community, and [it’s] just kind of the farming way of life too. You help your neighbor out when they need it, and don’t expect anything in return.”
Jenna Binde, a family friend, shared with KFYR TV, “I talked to a couple of farmers, got their equipment, and then other people just started calling and we had equipment offered from all over the place in the county, and their workers to go with it,” Driven by this community spirit, neighbors set aside their own harvest work to come and help finish the job on Unhjem’s farm.
“You reap what you sow! That’s the old saying that can apply to a lot of things in life. Well, today it has a two-fold meaning–harvesting crops and helping friends!” friend Don Anderson writes on his Facebook.”
“Now that Lanes health is being taken care of, it came time for his friends and neighbors to spring into action, which is common in small town life. Approximately 40 to 50 farmers, driving combines, pulling grain carts, driving semis and various other harvest related items, converged on the Unhjem farmstead and they will take care of harvest for Lane and his family today. I believe there was about a dozen combines involved,”
In under 48 hours, the community came together and, according to Anderson, they managed to harvest 1,000 acres in just over 7 hours. The heartwarming act quickly gained traction online. A man from Kansas commented, “It’s what America was built on–neighbors helping neighbors.” Similarly, a user from South Africa remarked, “Awesome neighbors. If only the whole world would care for each other like this, what a great world it would be!”
Lane Unhjem’s daughter, Samantha Coates, was deeply touched by the community’s support. She expressed her gratitude on Facebook by sharing photos of the remarkable effort. Alongside the pictures, she wrote: “We can’t thank you all enough for everything!! Here are just a few photos I was able to snag between everything. I have no words for how thankful we are for the support, prayers, and all you have done!! What an incredible community of loving and caring people we have!!!”
The community, both friends and strangers, poured out their support and prayers on Samantha’s post. One person commented, “Coming from a farming family…. these pictures are worth their weight in GOLD and will be family treasures in many, many years to come.” Another said, “This is so awesome. I love hearing about my home community working together. Sending lots of prayers to your family.”
On November 24, Unhjem’s family shared an update through a GoFundMe page, originally set up to help with his medical expenses. The update read: “We received word that they had a donor for both heart and kidney that was a perfect match for Lane! So, late on Wednesday evening, Lane went into surgery to replace his heart. The doctors were very pleased with how the heart transplant went and on Thanksgiving morning they took him back in to start the kidney surgery. Saying we had thankful Thanksgiving doesn’t do justice to the emotions we were all feeling that day!!!”
After a long 108-day stay in the hospital, Unhjem was released with scheduled check-ups to oversee his heart and kidney functions and to watch for signs of rejection, as per family updates on social media. Currently, he’s on the path to recovery!
This heartwarming story showcases the power of community. When individuals unite to help someone in need, it creates ripples of hope and kindness. We’re thankful such caring people exist and hope their story inspires many more to act with similar compassion.