Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Country singer gives back to Blank Children's Hospital

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Date Modified: 07/08/2013 2:44 PM

E-mail article | Print version

IDA GROVE, Iowa — Country Music artist Tom Wurth spent a week traveling 400 miles across Iowa on a tractor to raise money for charity.

He was joined at the week's start by five other tractors.

The "Playing for Change Tractor Ride" benefits the neonatal unit at the Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines. Wurth and Dick A. Barkema became acquainted in Klemme when Wurth performed there.

"My daughter was at the concert," said Barkema. "After Tom had sung a few songs, she called me to tell me I had to get down there. I am glad I listened to her. Tom is an awesome singer and a good friend.''

"It was cold that night," Wurth said. "When I commented about that, Dick went home and brought me a brand new DeKalb jacket.''

Barkema attended Wurth's concerts in the area, and they would talk.

Wurth, who grew up in Marcus, lives in Nashville. He hadn't forgotten how Iowans have helped him.

"It is my time to give back," he said. "The Blank Children's Hospital was suggested as a possible place to help. On a tour of the hospital, I saw first hand the amazing work they do. They are saving the lives."

A tractor ride was the obvious choice.

"I am no stranger to walking beans or moving cattle," said Wurth. "My parents were teachers, and I lived in town. But my uncles had farms where I could help with the baling and other chores."

Barkema still helps on the family farm near Goodell and works for Hagie Manufacturing, which makes self-propelled sprayers.

The trip began on June 17 in Onawa with a ride through Loess Hills to Ida Grove. The ride finished up in Dubuque on June 22.

Wurth's songs are a blend of traditional country, blue grass and gospel.

Wurth said all ride donations will go to the Blank Children's Hospital.

Ole Barn BBQ, of Austin, Minn., went along on the ride. Bob and Lisa Nelson, with their sons Eric and Corey, served sandwiches and smoked meatloaf.

Barkema drove a 3010 John Deere on the ride. The tractor holds special meaning because it was the last tractor his father Dick farmed with.

Wurth appreciated his journey through the countryside.

"I am reminded of how hard Iowa farmers work," he said. "We saw farmers planting, spraying, picking up rocks and cutting hay. Fresh-cut alfalfa has an awesome smell -- I miss that in Nashville."

Wurth grew up in a musical family and attended college to get a music degree. He decided to learn by doing, so he took a job as a record label mailroom clerk.

Wurth received a Grammy nomination in 1997 as vocalist in "Lovesongs and Lullabies for Daddy's Little Dreamer." The album was entered in the best Musical Album for Children Category. He has co-written "If The Road Runs Out" and "I Can't Kick My Country."

Blank Children's Hospital is seen in a video that features his latest single, "To Love Somebody."

Wurth sang that song and many others during the free-will donation concerts held at the end of each day's ride.