by Dennis Dalman
For the 10th time, Chuck and Lucy Rieland are raring-and-eager to get on their bicycles and ride, ride, ride the Wobegon Trail to raise money again for the St. Cloud Children’s Home, a residential treatment home for at-risk youth.
It’s time once again for the 10th annual Catholic Charities Wobegon Regional Trail Ride at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12. They and other riders will start at the trailhead in St. Joseph and ride all the way to Sauk Centre, with rest breaks for snacks and water along the way. Some riders, however, will choose to start at other cities along the trail, such as Avon (start times 10-10:30 a.m.) or Melrose (start times 10:30-11:30 a.m.). The event is not a race; instead, it’s a leisurely ride on which participants can soak up some of the beautiful scenery of central Minnesota.
The donation to ride is $35 on the day of the race. Helmets are required.
Proceeds from the ride help provide scholarships to young people at the St. Cloud Children’s Home, who need extended mental-health therapy not covered by insurance. Some of the funds raised also go to buildings’ improvements at the children’s-home facility in south St. Cloud.
Ironically enough, the Catholic Charities Wobegon Regional Trail Ride was “inspired” by the horrifying terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001.
For Chuck Rieland, that attack was so horrific and so personal he had a deep need to do something positive to counteract such destructive forces. It was “personal” because Rieland is a vice president of Morgan Stanley, a giant brokerage firm that occupied many floors of the Trade Center. After the attack, employees were able to evacuate the south tower before the second plane hit, but the company’s security personnel all lost their lives right after helping everyone evacuate the upper floors.
Rieland, who lives in Fridley, knew instantly after those attacks he had to initiate something positive to counter the horror. At the time, he and Lucy were working on a project in St. Paul for the Catholic Charities Children’s Home in St. Paul. In the middle of the night, suddenly Rieland had an image of the Wobegon Trail and a fundraiser for a children’s home, even though at the time he didn’t know there was a children’s home at St. Cloud. He was, however, aware of the trail as he’d grown up in New Munich and knew much of central Minnesota.
Another of a Rieland-inspired event to raise funds for the Children’s Home is the annual golfing fundraiser in Albany, one of the cities on the Wobegon Trail.
Rieland’s organizational skills led to the first fundraising ride on the Wobegon Trail in 2006. Every year since it has been a growing success, so much so that $675,000 was raised during the past 10 years, well over half of the Rielands’ $1 million goal.
“In my mind, this (trail ride) is me. It’s part of my DNA today,” Rieland said in a previous Newsleader story written two years ago. “What I do for the Children’s Home is part of me – this is only a beginning.”
A few weeks after the Sept. 12 trail ride, the Rielands will travel to New York City to accept a Community Leadership Award from the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation. Earlier this year, the Rielands were also honored with a Good Samaritan Award from Catholic Charities.