Building a biking tradition: FF Habitat for Humanity to raise funds through 100-mile bike ride

This year will mark the 26th anniversary of Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota’s Habitat 500 Bike Ride.

From July 15-21 cyclists will set off on a 500-mile bike ride to raise funds and awareness to help Habitat for Humanity build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. The ride will start in Becker and take overnight stops in Royalton, Alexandria, Staples and Pierz before finally returning to Becker.

“There are over 100 riders each year for the 500-mile bike ride and we hope to get more community members involved in the Century Ride in the future,” Fergus Falls Habitat for Humanity executive director Stan Carignan said.

As a century rider himself, along with Paul Shol, Carignan hopes that they are creating a tradition that will continue to help fund needed affordable housing in Fergus Falls and the surrounding area. “It’s a good deal and highlights our community and the people involved, it also gives people who maybe haven’t had a chance to sponsor in the past, a chance to get involved,” Carignan said.

The Habitat 500 Ride is responsible for helping to fund 2,500 homes built by Minnesota’s local Habitat for Humanity with families across the state. Since 2002, when Habitat Minnesota took over the coordination of the ride, the Habitat 500 Bike Ride has raised nearly $5 million to support Habitat for Humanity home construction.

Every rider, every donation and every home is a bold action taken toward a world where everyone has a decent and affordable place to live. Families are helped to build financial stability, invest in education and reach new education and employment opportunities through Habitat Homes. Without the dedication and support of the riders, volunteers and local towns, such success would not have been possible.

Riders who choose to participate in the 100-mile Century Ride will cycle from Alexandria to Fergus Falls and then return back to Alexandria on July 18. The rest of the participants will spend their day working on the bike.home.build. This project embraces participants’ passion for cycling and their desire to create homeownership opportunities for those in need. The 2018 bike.home.build, located between Fergus Falls and Alexandria in the town of Brandon, will be hosted by Douglas County Habitat for Humanity. The home will be built and sponsored by riders and bikes will be donated to the family to help share the Habitat 500 riders’ love and passion for cycling.

“The looks on the faces of the children make the day all worth it,” 16-year rider, Craig Sterle said as he remembered the happiness of the family members at past bike.home.build celebrations when they receive their own bicycles, a special touch for the bike.home.build.

Another 16-year rider, Randy Oppelt remembers his third ride when he watched a little girl lead a rider through her partially constructed new house. “It was more than a structure, more than a roof over her head,” he said, “It was her pathway into a new, more secure, and more opportunity-filled future. That is why I do [the ride], because of her and all the other children like her!”

Katie, Robert and their five children are this year’s bike.home.family. “I am so grateful for this opportunity. I can’t even begin to explain the relief I have. I already feel the support from everyone who wants us to succeed,” Katie said.

Driven by their goal of increased independence and the desire for a space of their own, Katie and Robert were encouraged by friends and family to apply for a Habitat home. Currently, the family lives in a three-bedroom apartment where the radiators are always hot and presently a safety concern for the children. To alleviate the heat in the apartment, they open windows, which end up freezing open in the cold Minnesota winters.

In March 2018, Katie, Robert and their children learned that their dream would soon become a reality. “We are so excited, God is so good! This is the beginning of something absolutely amazing,” Katie and Robert said.

Donors and sponsors also have the opportunity to delegate their funds to help support a build in Fergus Falls for Megan and Frank’s home. For more information on how to get involved, please visit www.habitat500.org.

By Sarah Huffman

sarah.huffman@fergusfallsjournal.com

Source, image, credits & more information: FergusFallsJournal