On Monday morning, the sun was shining bright and the weather was cool as local farmer Dan Dale rode atop his 12-row combine, shelling corn.

Several other volunteers had all gathered that day starting at 8 a.m. Dan Dale said he arrived a little bit after that.

“I drive a school bus, too. With COVID there are no substitute bus drivers,” he said. “I think we’re going to get done in a pretty good time anyway. Pretty nice day to work, though.”

Dan Dale and the dozens of other volunteers were gathered that day to help harvest the fields of one of their own, Dean Stouffer, who has been hospitalized with the virus.

“This is probably the biggest ordeal I’ve been involved in,” said Dan Dale, when asked if he had helped other farmers in this way in the past. “Luckily, it doesn’t happen every year.”

Dan Dale said both he and his wife had been sickened by the virus earlier in the year, but both had recovered.

“I had a nasty cough. My wife was unable to get out of the chair. But she could breathe and the doctors didn’t want us to go to the hospital,” he said.

Dan Dale said once it was announced that one of their neighbors needed assistance, people volunteered themselves immediately.

“I guess guys were just coming out of the woodwork once they announced they needed help,” he said.

Ryan Chambers was one of the organizers of the event. He said they had seven combines running simultaneously and numerous truck drivers waiting to haul the shelled corn away from the fields located just west of Wabash.

Chambers said they decided to put the event together because time was of the essence.

“There was concern the crop wouldn’t be standing by the time he … could get back out here,” said Chambers.

As the combines made their way through the fields row by row, Dean Stouffer’s brother, Dale Stouffer, rode his truck between locations to check on the progress.

“Half these guys have been sick and half haven’t,” he said. “We’ve been trying to make it so the guys that have been over it are taking the lead. Everyone else, I’m trying to keep them safe.”

Dale Stouffer said he and his family were overwhelmed by the “unbelievable generosity.”

“None of these knuckleheads, especially my brother, take help well,” he said, on Tuesday. “They all do this because they have it in their hearts to be a good neighbor and a friend when another is in need.”

Dale Stouffer said most every volunteer remarked about “how much fun they had.” He said most didn’t even accept the offer of donated fuel at the end of the day.

“They said things like, ‘We didn’t do it to get paid,’” he said. “It’s a humbling thing seeing all these men that I have always looked up to, be at their very best, helping my brother and his farm.”

Dale Stouffer said in just under four hours, the volunteers had shelled around 200 acres, in addition to a crew led by Dave Wolfrum and Matt Whitesel and others shelled around 50 acres around Dean Stouffer’s house on Friday, Nov. 14.

On Wednesday, Dale Stouffer’s daughter in law, Katie Stouffer, said their family was on the mend, but that it was a slow process.

She said the family wished to thank the following volunteers for their contributions: Ben Smith, Dan Metzger, Gary Kratzer, Adam Shafer, Joe Stephan, Ryan Barton, Colt Shepler, Sam Gardner, KJ Clupper, Kale Clupper, Clay Shepler, Chris Hann, Ceres Fuel – Jeff Porter, Keith Ogan, Gary Wilson, Rick Sweet, Ryan Chambers, Heath Lehner, Dan Dale, Junior Utte, Paul Townsend, Chris Niccum, Cliff Airgood, Jerry Enyeart, Tim Ranck, Mitch Snyder, Agventure, Brodbecks, Bobby Hettsmanperger, Advanced Ag Resources, Rodger Peebles, Dave Wolfrum, Matt Wolfrum, Matt Whitsel, Randy Rensbarger, Chris Haun, Tony Cochran, Ray Lester, John Westerfield, Corey Shepler, Mitch Rebholz, Randy Airgood, John Schuler, Shane Pingleton, Ricardo Trejo, Bryan Ranck, Brian Ridgeway and Craig Hoppes.

Rob Burgess, Wabash Plain Dealer editor, may be reached by email at rburgess@wabashplain