Bill Sterzinger of Ivanhoe (right) brought his wife Wendy and their six-year-old son Jacob to the benefit. Jacob wanted the tractor, was out bid, but got it anyway when the winning bidder gave him the tractor.The crowd at the auction was immense. There were just as many people outside as inside — once again proving the value of living in small town USA

‘This is why we live in small town, USA’

One advantage of living in a small town is the amount of support community members give to one another. The smaller the town, the closer the citizens are to one another; much like one big family.

Brad Noyes just found out how much his “family” of Porter cares for him. Noyes, 43, was recently diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer and to help defray some of the family's medical bills and trips to various medical facilities for treatments, a benefit was held Saturday night at the Porter Community Hall.

Even though events in Porter have always been well attended in the past, organizers of this benefit did not anticipate a turnout of this magnitude with well-wishers coming from all over the area and beyond.

“We had a committee of around 15 people organizing the benefit,” said Kevin Fier, a longtime friend of Noyes and the best man at his wedding.

Noyes was a groomsman in Fier’s wedding. “We figured we would have enough meat on hand for around 800 hamburgers. We ended up selling over 1,100 burgers. People were lined up for three blocks waiting to get the food.”

Volunteers scurried to get additional food, freezer, beverages, tables and chairs to accommodate all those in attendance. The free-will offering burger meal came with beans, chips and a beverage. There were also snow cones, cotton candy, a beer wagon and other items sold, too. It turned into a feeding frenzy as the Cattlemen’s Association donated their time and grills to cook the burgers.

“I know 90 percent of the people only got one burger,” Fier said.

“So you know there were a lot of people at the benefit. I’m not good at guessing, but I figure there way over 1,000 people at the benefit.”

“You expect a good crowd in a small town, but this was tremendous based on the sheer number of people and the donations.”

“They had a guest book at the benefit that has over 1,100 signatures in it,” said Anna Noyes, Brad’s wife. “(And I’m) unsure if everyone signed it.” Silent and live auctions also were successful.

People and businesses from all over the area donated items to be auctioned off. Monsanto Company donated an undisclosed amount of beans and corn for the auction. Bill Sterzinger of Ivanhoe, who recently had his last consolidation treatment for leukemia in Florida this past February, brought his wife Wendy and their six-year-old son Jacob to the benefit. During the live auction, the Sterzingers were bidding on an International pedal tractor that Jacob expressed interest in.

“We knew the benefit was for a good cause so we decided to bid up to $400 on the tractor,” Bill said. “But we were going to let Jacob do the bidding. My wife told Jacob that every time she squeezed his leg he should put his hand up to bid.” But Jacob just kept his hand up the entire time and kept bidding along with others. Soon the bid reached the $400 mark, but Jacob continued to bid to the encouragement of those in attendance.

“When it got to $450, we told Jacob to stop and that sometimes that's how it goes in bidding,” said Bill. By now, many onlookers were watching intently as a few others continued to bid. Finally, the auctioneer barked “SOLD” and the final bid of $575 went to Jim Prokop of Canby. A few moments later, Bob Polejewski, who was assisting with the auction, brought the tractor over to the Sterzingers and presented it to Jacob, compliments of Prokop.

Most of those watching the bidding applauded Prokop's efforts.

“That man has a heart of gold,” said Bill Sterzinger. “I heard he does this sort of thing at other benefits, too.”

The Sterzingers located Prokop and thanked him for his kind gesture, while Jacob gave him a hug. All told, the “Little Town that Could” put on quite a show for a worthy cause. “We never imagined there would be so many people there,” Anna Noyes said, politely declining any additional comments.

Not bad for a committee that had never put on a benefit before. “None of us had ever done anything like this,” laughed Fier.

“But it all came together and a lot of people showed up. That’s just what we were hoping for.”

And it didn't matter if they were young or old, healthy or weak, the people came from all over to assist the family and show their support. Fier recently had a stress-induced heart attack and got out of the hospital in Sioux Falls the day before the benefit.

“I don’t want to talk about me,” said Fier. “Brad would have done the same thing for me. He is one of those types of people that have this infectious way of making people around him feel better. He’s always so positive and always has a smile on his face.”

The Noyes family will be making a trip to John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on July 16 to see if Brad is a surgical candidate for their program. Several others at the benefit Saturday night from neighboring communities also have battled cancer and made the trip to Porter to attend the benefit in a show of solidarity and support. The total amount raised from the benefit has not yet been tabulated, but will likely be undisclosed.

Fier and several others that have played softball together with Noyes on the Canby Grain and/or Countryside Auto teams were on hand to present him with a special gift commemorating the two decades they have played together. At the conclusion of the auction on Saturday, Brad briefly thanked everyone and mentioned how “overwhelmed” he was at the outpouring of support before his emotions got the best of him, and also to those listening to him. No other words were needed.

The people in attendance weren't there to be thanked. In a small town like Porter, there's no need to say thanks and tell your “small community family” how much you appreciate them.

They already know.

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