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MINNESOTA LAKE, Minn. (AP) — It’s hard for a farmer to pull back on his giddy-up. Just ask John Volz.

“You can’t do what you used to do, and you still want to do it,” he told KARE-TV .

Forced by declining heath to end his daily visits to the family farm, Volz walked from his house in town to his garage in the backyard, and did what he knows. He got to work.

Nine months later, the 79-year-old has built a thousand wooden toys for children who might otherwise go without.

“I just don’t stop that easy,” said Volz, who was diagnosed earlier this year with Lewy body dementia.

This fall, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Volz sent 450 toys to Houston. Other toys have been delivered, or soon will be, to a family shelter, a hospital and a mission in Arizona.

Minnesota Lake volunteer firefighters will also be packing Volz’s toys in Christmas stockings for distribution to local children.

“I am so proud of him for what he does and so proud of the transition he’s making,” says Chris Volz, John Volz’s wife.

Chris Volz wondered how her husband would cope with being away from the farm for the first time in his life.

“You can take the man off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the man,” she said. “That’s him; he’s a farmer through and through. He was born to be a farmer.”

Chris Volz said her husband would spend eight to 15 hours a day on the farm now run by their nephew. “Then all of a sudden, we were both here together.”

The disease has already taken a toll. Twice John Volz has needed stitches on his forehead because of falls. It’s also becoming more difficult for him to put his thoughts into speech.

Still, even after building a thousand toy tractors, cars and trucks, John Volz isn’t ready to quit.

“There’s some more stuff that I want to make,” he said, “when I get a little older, you know.”


Information from: KARE-TV,