The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 23, 2014

Pedal Past Poverty event coming up in March

Last year's spinning event raised about $75,000

By Robb Murray rmurray@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — If you’re into goofy costumes, intense competition, working up a sweat and raising money for a good cause, allow us to introduce you to Pedal Past Poverty.

A year ago Partners for Affordable Housing launched something called Pedal Past Poverty, an event where teams — some dressed in theme costumes, others bringing prepared motivational chants — take turns riding spinning stationary bikes and compete to see who can log the most miles.

Team members beforehand hit the streets and collect pledges, and all the money goes to cover the expenses of Partners for Affordable Housing, which operates the Welcome Inn and Theresa House homeless shelters.

“After the event,” said Carrol Meyers-Dobler, the CEO of the nonprofit housing agency, “the board said, ‘Yeah, we didn’t think this was ever gonna work.’”

The board, it appears, was wrong.

That event pulled in about $75,000, more than double their goal for the event. Now, they’re back again and plan to make this the annual signature fundraiser for Partners for Affordable Housing.

Meyers-Dobler said she’s got good reason to think the event will become even more lucrative.

Before coming to the Mankato area, Meyers-Dobler said she worked with a foundation that raised money for cerebral palsy in Bismarck, N.D. When they launched this kind of fundraiser, they pulled in $15,000 their first year. After a few years of growth, they were pulling in $100,000, and soon it was up to $300,000. Finally, last year, they raised more than ever and brought in $500,000.

Meyers-Dobler said that given the Mankato community’s active and outdoorsy culture — evidenced by the proliferation of bike trails and 10K races, and the rapid growth of the Mankato Marathon — she never doubted it would be a success here.

Team members ride in 20-minute intervals with a 10-minute break to change riders.

Music is played — loudly — while Radio Mankato deejays count down the remaining seconds of each “heat.”

Duane Olson participated last year. He said the event is a fun one, but he takes part because of the mission.

“I really wasn’t aware of the extent of homelessness in the Mankato area until I heard Carrol speak at a church forum,” Olson said.

And now he, as he’s drumming up support for his cause, gets the same kind of surprised looks.

“When I go and talk to people with, a lot of people are surprised when they hear there are that many people in need of housing,” Olson said.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at the Mankato YMCA.

There are prizes involved. Meyers-Dobler said they’re gathering prizes right now and will be awarding them throughout the day at the event. Top prizes will go to the winning teams, but there also will be random prizes as well, such as meals, hotel and spa packages, oil changes, car washes and more.

Last year one group called themselves Physique Boutique and came dressed in black leotards and tutus. A team from the School Sisters of Notre Dame called themselves the Holy Spokes.

Mayo Clinic Health System sent a handful of teams, one of which came dressed in scrubs and bearing tools of the emergency room trade.

“People get caught up in the excitement,” Meyers-Dobler said.

What: Pedal Past Poverty, a fundraiser for Partners for Affordable Housing When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 1 Where: Mankato YMCA Details: Signup is still open. Teams are comprised of 10 riders, each of whom is expected to raise money. Each team has captain who should plan on attending a Captain's Kick Off event Jan. 31 at School Sisters of Notre Dame offices, 170 Good Counsel Drive. Registration: Visit partnersforhousing.org to download the registration form. Questions? Call Carrol Meyers-Dobler, 387-2115