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Habitat 500 race raises funds for safe, affordable housing for poor families

Route map

By Anna Erickson

The Habitat 500 Bike Ride will be coming through Menahga July 14-15.

The Menahga School will host cyclists’ evening stay Monday, July 14.

“We will be providing an evening meal on Monday July 14 and breakfast on Tuesday July 15,” said Deb Lenzen, Menahga School secretary.

If anyone is interested in helping out in any way, or has questions, contact Lenzen at Menahga School, 564-4141 ext 3.

“We are looking for small commitments of time, donations of food or dollars,” she added.

People can mail monetary donations to Menahga School, attn: Deb Lenzen, Habitat 500 donation, PO Box 160, Menahga MN 56464.

This is the 22nd annual Habitat 500 Bike Ride to raise awareness for safe, decent and affordable housing.

Riders bike 500 miles starting and ending in St. Joseph.

The first Habitat 500, coordinated by Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, took place in 1993 and traveled to Winnipeg for the Jimmy Carter Work Project. Since then, the ride has toured around the Midwest, though mostly Minnesota, visiting Habitat affiliates, Habitat worksites and Habitat homeowners along the way (in addition to roadside attractions).

In 2000, Twin Cities Habitat asked HFH-MN to take over the coordination of the ride due to the fact that it was a fundraiser for affiliates around the state of Minnesota, not just Twin Cities Habitat.

HFH-MN took over the coordination of the ride in 2002. Funds raised in the years since then have consistently grown to a high of $368,300. In 2012, there were 22 Minnesota affiliates participating in the Habitat 500 receiving an average of $8,600 each.

The 2014 ride starts in St. Joseph, then goes to Osakis, Menahga, Bemidji, Itasca State Park, Pine River, Little Falls and then returns to St. Joseph.

The number of riders and teams is limited to about 135 cyclists on the road each day to maintain a family feel and help build relationships during the ride.

On the trip, they will be celebrating the 2,200th Habitat home built in Minnesota. This home is being built in Bemidji.

Historically, the cost of the ride (not covered by registration fees and sponsorships) averages 3 percent of funds raised, which means that for every dollar donated, 97 cents will go directly to the designated affiliate to build more homes.

In the past 20 years the ride has raised over $4.85 million for Habitat home construction in Minnesota, the United States and around the world.

This year’s goal is to raise $350,000.

Part of this year’s ride is the Bike Home Project, which embraces the participants’ passion for cycling and their desire to create homeownership opportunities for those in need. The home will be built by riders and sponsored by riders. It is located near a bike trail and bikes will be donated to the family to help share the Habitat 500 riders’ love and passion for cycling.

The 2014 Bike Home Project will be located in Bemidji. Riders will have the option to build the home versus riding the Bemidji/Itasca State Park Loop on July 16.

The Habitat 500 is made possible thanks to dedicated volunteers and donations from local affiliates, businesses, churches, and schools that provide food and lodging.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561