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Dreams For Kids Ride a success; Buendiger alone raised more than $14K

This year's Dreams For Kids Ride has raised enough money to grant the wishes of not just the two boys the group had already planned to sponsor, but the wishes of two additional children, as well.

According to Wanda Smith, one of the event's leading organizers, more than $26,000 was raised through the 7th Annual Ride. The ride was held on July 28, with a celebration afterward at Pioneer Village in Perham.

The cost of sponsoring a wish is about $6,500 per child. Wishes are granted through the Make A Wish Foundation, for children who are seriously ill.

Dreams For Kids was originally planning to sponsor two local boys, who both wished to take an Alaskan Cruise. Now, Smith said, they'll be sponsoring two additional children. Those children will likely be local, as well.

"We were committed to two, and we were going to be happy with three," said Smith. "So this is pretty exciting."

Of the money raised, $14,556 came from just one rider, Paul Buendiger, who took a 4,000-mile solo ride from Canada to Mexico and back. Along the way, he gathered about 700 separate donations for Dreams For Kids.

"The ride went good," said Buendiger in an interview last week. "I almost doubled last year's figure. It's pretty impressive how generous people are. It's fun, and it was really gratifying meeting those kids."

At one point during his ride, Buendiger met up with a girl from Anoka, Minn. - one of the kids whose wish had been granted in a previous year.

Other parts of the ride weren't as enjoyable. Buendiger said he was "shaken down" and got his bags searched at the Canadian border; and he was nearly hit by a piece of metal that flew out of a trailer in Texas.

He plans to do another ride next year, though the route will likely change.

"It won't be anything as dynamic as this one - I don't think anyway," he said. "Nothing's etched in stone."

But he was quick to add with a laugh that, "Nobody's safe. I'll be hitting everybody up again next year."

Voluntary donations may be sent at any time of the year to: Dreams For Kids, 35240 Alice Drive, Richville, 56576.

Smith thanked the donors and everyone involved with Dreams For Kids for their participation.