Crossing Minnesota– Slowly but Surely This Lion is a Cut Above Bob Harms, 67, doesn’t mow his own yard, but he did ride a lawn mower nearly 500 miles across Minnesota to prevent hearing loss among children. A Kingston Lion, Harms rode a Toro Zero-Turn lawnmower from the Canadian border to Iowa. The motor home that followed him displayed a banner with a photo of two-year-old Maren, who was treated at the Lions’ Children Hearing Center at the University of Minnesota. A board member of the Lions Hearing Foundation, Harms raised $42,000 for the hearing center through a raffle of a Toro and donations. The remarkable thing about his 10-day ride was how uneventful it was. Harms sped away from chasing dogs, got wet from heavy rain and road spray from trucks and changed three flats on the garden trailer he pulled. And a grinning jogger once overtook him. “That was kind of disheartening,” says Harms. But overall the ride was smooth. “I was expecting more adventure,” says Harms, who is the executive secretary for Multiple District 5M. Helping to ward off trouble was Past District Governor Jim Aasness, who drove the motor home accompanying Harms. The souped-up mower, donated by Toro, puttered ahead at 7 miles per hour on state highways. Harms had secured a permit to ride on the shoulder. Several times curious drivers pulled off the road ahead of him. “One semi-driver asked me, ‘What in the world are you doing?’ He ended up giving me $20,” says Harms. Harms met with Maren and her family near the end of his ride at a celebratory ceremony at the Toro plant in Windom. Her hearing loss wasn’t diagnosed until she was 21 months. In Windom her family gave Harms a plaque with a quote from Mark Twain: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear.” Maren, now 4, is “catching up to her peers,” says Harms. Harms takes a personal interest in those with hearing impairments. He’s had hearing problems since he was young. A few years ago, when his hearing loss began affecting his job as city clerk, he received a bone-anchored hearing aid (known as a BAHA). Harms has 3.5 acres of land to mow at home. “My wife [Past Council Chair Debbi] does the mowing. She really likes it,” he says. After the ride the couple bought the same Toro model that was raffled off. –Jay Copp
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