WEST FARGO – Riding bike is a spiritual journey for Vicki Schmidt, whether it’s a simple spin around a West Fargo block or the euphoric rush descending Minnesota’s 57-mile Gunflint Trail.
“I’m a leisure biker,” said Schmidt, who lives in West Fargo. “It’s a recreational thing.”
But her purpose is multi-fold: It’s a time to reflect on creation’s beauty, sing, pray, help those struggling in life and raise awareness of social injustice.
Her bike is not a sleek, lightweight racer. It’s a heavy, wide-tired ride for a reason.
“As I pedal my heavy bike, I remember people living in poverty and in systems that perpetuate oppression, people who are denied basic human rights,” her blog reads.
“They carry very heavy burdens in life and have few options to escape these situations,” she writes. “My heavy bike is a symbol of these heavy burdens.”
Biking came to Schmidt via friend Ivar Sorenson’s tragic fall from a hunting stand.
Sorenson, of Bemidji, Minn., was to participate in the annual “Jaunt with Jim,” a Minnesota bike tour that retired Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Jim Klobuchar conducted for 39 years from 1974-2013.
“It was clear (Sorenson) wasn’t going, so I decided to bike it for him,” Schmidt said.
“I thought, I will use it to raise money for an organization or two,” she recalls.
This year Schmidt has logged nearly 300 miles on her sixth annual “Bike for Justice.”
Her longest jaunt was 116 miles to Red Willow Bible Camp at Binford, N.D., in July.
“I will have 500 miles in by the time I quit,” she said.
Schmidt has raised $9,400 so far this year, surpassing her $8,000 goal. She hopes to raise $5,000 each for Lost and Found Ministry, an addiction and healing center in Moorhead and Sister Parish Inc., of Newtown, Conn., which links churches in the United States with faith-based communities in Central America.
“This is huge for us to have somebody choose us to be the recipient of all this good will,” said Denise Peterson, executive director of Lost and Found Ministry.
“We are a Christian ministry of healing for those who struggle with addictions. This just means a lot, that we can provide the services that they need.”
Schmidt has also set a goal to raise $5,000 this year for Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s World Hunger Program, through congregational offerings within the church’s Eastern North Dakota Synod.
Schmidt has raised more than $35,000 over the past five years to support non-profit agencies.
- United Hearts for Haiti, a West Fargo faith ministry created and administered by former Haitian refugees
- Flood of Love, a Minot, N.D.-based organization that assists churches and families recovering from the 2011 flood.
- Sister Parish, a relationship between Faith Lutheran Church in West Fargo and the community of Tierra Nueva Uno, Chinautla, Guatemala, to create safe, multi-purpose playgrounds and sports areas for children and youth.
Her efforts have been supported every year by Thrivent Financial Services, she said.
To donate, go online to www.openingborders.com or mail tax-deductible donations to Opening Borders, P.O Box 91, West Fargo, N.D. 58078.
Schmidt will ride Itasca Park next week and just returned again from Gunflint Trail.
“It’s my favorite ride,” she said. “I get a spiritual high out of that kind of stuff.”