MANKATO — The School Sisters of Notre Dame aren’t known for their athletic prowess, but it takes more than a few stationary bikes to keep them away from a good cause.
“It’s been great, just a gift for us,” Sister Mary Ray Gosch said of Saturday’s Pedal Past Poverty fundraiser.
And there were gifts to go around; Partners for Affordable Housing raised more than $68,700 to help operate Theresa House and Welcome Inn, emergency shelters for women, children and their families.
Of that total, more than $22,000 came from the sisters and staff atop Good Counsel Hill.
“It was heart-warming, really,” said Barb Connolly, secretary to campus administration. “It brought tears to our eyes.”
Sister Gosch said the convent’s interest in helping women, children and the poor motivated their fundraising efforts. Theresa House was operated by St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church and housed on the parish campus until 2009. It was named both for Mother Teresa of Calcutta and for the founder of the Mankato convent, Theresa Gerhardinger.
The scene of the event, held in a YMCA third-floor studio, was organized chaos. Thirty-eight bicyclists, mostly accompanied by cheering team members, pedaled to upbeat pop music. Each team had 10 people, each of whom drove in a 20-minute “heat.”
Each person was asked to raise donations of $100, but it was only that — a request.
Some, like the sisters, took a more leisurely pace, but others were clearly in a competitive mood. The cities of Mankato and North Mankato were among them, and Mankato Mayor Eric Anderson and North Mankato Mayor Mark Dehen took up a friendly rivalry. It was not clear Saturday which city’s team pedaled the most miles.
The teams that pedaled furthest were notified, though, and got prizes. On the stationary bikes (different from the spinning bikes) the winners were The Mat Hatters, who spun the equivalent of 43.85 miles.