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Tribune file photo Cyclists wait Oct. 16, 2007, for the inaugural run of the Minneapolis Bike Tour to begin. With the first Pedal for Project Impact, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Minnwest Technology Campus Lifecenter parking lot, Willmar will join Minneapolis and many other communities in the state that stage bicycle rides. Project Impact provides support and safety planning for children who have lived with violence in their homes.

Bike ride planned to benefit Safe Avenues children's programming

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- A healthy family bicycle ride seemed to be a fitting way to raise money for kids affected by domestic violence.

It brought Willmar City Council members Denis Anderson and Doug Reese together with Safe Avenues of Willmar to plan Pedal for Project Impact.

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Project Impact provides support and safety planning for children who have lived with violence in their homes.

"Denis and Doug came to me and said they'd like to help with a fundraiser," said Connie Schmoll, director of Safe Avenues, a non-profit which advocates for victims of domestic violence and their families.

Anderson is an avid cyclist, and Reese rides, too. The idea of a fundraiser came up when they were talking one day, Anderson said, and they decided it should involve wheels.

Pedal for Project Impact begins at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Minnwest Technology Campus Lifecenter parking lot.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. Lunch for riders will be served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The route will follow Civic Center Drive to the Glacial Ridge Bike Trail. Participants are invited to ride anywhere from one mile to 20 miles, ending again at the Technology Campus.

"When they're about half tired, they need to turn around," Anderson said with a smile. "They can take as much time as they want; this is not a race."

Water will be available between miles 4 and 5, and volunteers will be stationed along the route to help out when needed and to shout encouragement to the riders. Law enforcement officers will be on hand to watch over trail crossings of major roads.

A volunteer has offered to do quick bike repairs if needed, too.

"The key is to promote a healthy family activity," Schmoll said.

Project Impact offers children's groups and activities, and it helps parents learn how they can help their children. The program also helps with access to health care resources.

"Working with the kids gives us hope; it gives our staff hope that we can make a difference with the next generation," she said. "We have seen a positive impact in young people's lives."

Project Impact is the only program of Safe Avenues that the state does not require and does not fund, "but it is critical and necessary," she said. The program is supported by donations and grant funding.

Schmoll said they hope to make Pedal for Project Impact an annual event.

People may register by contacting Safe Avenues at Box 568, Willmar MN 56201, 320-235-0962, or emailing safeplace@willmarshelter.com. Entry fee is $15 for adults, $10 for children 4-16, and free for toddlers. There is a $50 family maximum fee.

Participants are also encouraged to collect donations for Project Impact.

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