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Tour de Spin helps YMCA: Day-long event helps Y inch closer to $3M capital campaign goal

Casey Marcus, 20, from left, Anne Dunham, 18, and Addy Nelsen, 19, participate in the Tour de Spin Friday at the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR — Dawn Marcus had to yell to be heard over the thumping bass soundtrack that filled the gym Friday afternoon at the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA.

“Here we go — 30 seconds! Push it!” shouted Marcus, one of the Y’s spin class instructors.

Twenty minutes into a 45-minute session of spinning, her students were sweating, their legs pumping in rhythm to the fast-paced music.

While crowds of shoppers swarmed local stores and the mall, the six spin class participants were simultaneously burning Thanksgiving dinner calories and raising money for the YMCA.

The Y hosted its first Tour de Spin on Friday, a day-long fundraiser in support of a capital campaign to expand its programs and facilities.

Between corporate sponsors and the 70 participants who collected individual pledges, the event raised nearly $10,000, inching the Y within striking distance of meeting its $3 million capital campaign goal.

The first group of spinners climbed onto their bikes at 6:30 a.m. Friday. The last weary group didn’t take their feet off the pedals until around 8:30 p.m.

“Every effort I can I take to help us raise more money,” said Kelly Zuidema, a spin instructor and member of the YMCA board of directors.

She led two classes in a row Friday, pedaling the equivalent of 32 miles to a soundtrack of country, pop and hip-hop music.

“I love to teach spin so this was the perfect fundraiser for me — better than Black Friday shopping,” she said.

The idea came from a group of the Y’s spin instructors and a handful of cycling enthusiasts looking for ways to support the capital campaign. “They got together and said, ‘Let’s do this,’” said Dean Madsen, associate executive director. “It’s a great chance for people to come and share in some fitness the day after the holiday meal.”

Borrowing from the famed Tour de France bicycle race, jerseys were handed out and a leader board posted to show the fund-raising progress.

By mid-afternoon, the gap toward reaching the $3 million goal had narrowed to $6,210. Within the past two weeks alone, the capital campaign netted about $115,000, said Theresa Wittenberg, executive director.

“I think we’ll make it by the end of the year,” she said.

Money that’s raised above and beyond the goal will be used to buy equipment, she said.

Construction started this fall on expansion of the Y. The new addition will house an expanded wellness center, a large wellness studio, racquetball courts, and a new multipurpose gym and indoor track. Completion of the project, scheduled for May or June of 2014, will enable the Y to offer more programs to a membership that has grown in diversity and nearly doubled over the past decade, from 3,000 to 5,800.

“It’s all about moving more,” said Wittenberg. “It’s a lifestyle and how you choose to change that lifestyle one step at a time.”

With larger facilities, the Y will be better able to meet local needs for programs ranging from aerobics to Zumba, she said.

One of the beneficiaries will be the spin classes, which will have their own space in the new wellness center where the music can blare and large classes can be accommodated.

For the Tour de Spin, the bikes were moved into the gym where the floor was shared with basketball players and the occasional errant basketball. But for once, it was a day when the music could be loud.

“Today we don’t have to turn it down,” Zuidema said.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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