Day of the Dozer

By WEEK Producer

August 25, 2012 Updated Aug 27, 2012 at 10:11 AM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- It's not a construction site, but there's plenty of work to dig into.

"The joy is really indescribable," said Barb Nathan, executive director of the Community Cancer Center. "It starts when they actually get here. Each child gets a hard hat that they get to keep. And the smiles at that point and the joy - they just think this is it."

But that's not the best part. If they want to, each child can climb on board and learn how the giant machines operate.

It's called Day of the Dozer and it benefits the Community Cancer Center of Normal.

Bob Brady, whose worked in construction for 21 years, came up with the idea a decade ago.

"The industry as a whole wanted to come up with an idea to give back to the community and we thought what a great way to do it," said Brady. "We found a cause like the Community Cancer Center and let these kids explore the power of heavy construction equipment."

"Companies such as Stark Excavating, Isaacson, Capodice, donate the pieces of equipment that are out here," said Nathan. "They donate the fuel and their operators are donating their time."

One of those operators is Mike Smith. Last October, he lost his mother-in-law to cancer, so the day has special meaning for him.

Mike says he operators a bull dozer because he's just a big kid who never grew up.

"That's what my mom always says; I'm still a kid in the sandbox with the Tonka toys," Smith said. "I love what I do, it's a great company to work for and it's a great charity that we're donating our time and efforts to."

Over 1,000 kids will get the chance to operate equipment. For some of them the experience may be the inspiration for a career.

"Hopefully, they'll find some interest. We need the youth to get back and engaged in this industry," said Brady.

Now in its 10th year the Day of the Dozer has raised more than $350,000 for the Community Cancer Center.