Weather Forecast


500 miles for Habitat-Perham will host Habitat for Humanity cyclists July 16-17

Les Gunderson is biking for a cause.

Unlike some of his Harley Davidson counterparts who recently swept through the area for the Ronald McDonald Run, Gunderson's bike moves the old fashioned way, one peddle rotation at a time.

With each of the 500 miles he will be covering during the week of July 15-21 he will be rolling in funds to support Habitat for Humanity. "My personal goal is to raise $2,000," said Gunderson, explaining how this amount will be enough to provide flooring for one Habitat home.

This will be Gunderson's 4th Habitat 500 Bike Ride, an experience he sees as the perfect way to combine two of his interests: biking and Habitat for Humanity. With this year's ride traveling through his hometown of Perham, Gunderson is especially excited about the event.

The 500-mile trip begins in St. Cloud on the 15th of July, with riders spending the night in Perham on both the 16th and 17th. According to Gunderson, when the cycling crew pedals into Perham late in the day on Monday, July 16, dinner will be ready for them at St. Henry's Catholic Church. The Habitat 500 group, which numbered 135 last year, will spend the night camped at Prairie Wind Middle School.

Tuesday morning will include breakfast at St. Henry's, followed by a day's ride that will weave through the Otter Tail lake country. The riders will spend one more night at the middle school, with supper and breakfast the following morning being provided by Calvary Lutheran Church.

Other night stops will be held in Alexandria, Park Rapids, Brainerd, and Long Prairie, with the ride ending in St. Cloud.

In a letter he sent out to gather sponsors, Gunderson explained his reason for joining the Habitat 500. He writes, "Having been a teacher, for 34 years, in schools where some children do poorly because they are continually moving and haven't got a stable, decent home, I feel committed to Habitat's goals and efforts."

According to Gunderson, last year Habitat Minnesota was able to keep ride costs below 3 percent, meaning that $.97 of every $1 donated goes toward the construction of affordable homes. However, riders also have the option of paying a larger registration fee, making it possible for all of their donations to go toward Habitat for Humanity. 100 percent of funds raised by Gunderson will be used for building houses.

"All of the funds that I raise will go to the Leaf River Area Habitat for Humanity," explained Gunderson, who is already about 2/3 of the way to reaching his personal $2,000 goal. These funds will be used for Habitat to build a house in Perham, with construction on the house beginning during the ride. Some of the bikers will have an opportunity to work on the home during their two-day stay in Perham.

Overall, the goal for this year's ride is to raise $500,000. The ride is now in its 15th year, with last year's event raising over $300,000.

In 2006, Habitat for Humanity celebrated the landmark of building 1,400 homes, with the help of the Habitat 500 Bike Ride. Over the past 13 years, the ride has raised over $2.55 million for Habitat home construction in Minnesota, the United States and around the world.

Donations for Les Gunderson's Habitat 500 ride may be sent to: Calvary Lutheran Church, 619 3rd Avenue South West, Perham, MN 54573, Attn. Habitat 500. Checks should be made payable to: Habitat 500. All gifts are tax-deductible, with receipts being sent through the mail. For additional information visit the ride's website at: