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Cross-state, scooter run helps dreams come true

Perham's Mark Schmidt plans to ride scooter all the way from Moorhead to the Metro Area as a fundraiser for "Make-A-Wish." He's wearing a suit in this publicity photo-as his goal is to arrive in the Twin Cities in time for the annual gala hosted by "Make-A-Wish." He hopes to roll to the dance on his scooter-in formal attire.

Louis Hoglund

For the past four years Mark Schmidt made wishes come true for others; but next spring he'll be the one doing the wishing-wishing for perseverance, a strong pair of legs and the wind to his back.

As founder of the Perham-based "Dreams for Kids-Make-A-Wish-Foundation," Schmidt is "Scooting to the Next Level" with a new fundraiser. He will be pushing a two-wheel scooter all the way from Moorhead to Minneapolis.

Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions--and is perhaps best known for granting families trips to Disneyland.

To take the fundraising campaign for his favorite charity to another level, Perham native Mark Schmidt's goal is to push and ride his two-wheel scooter down Highway 10, all the way from Moorhead to Minneapolis. He'll be taking pledges all along the way. With the endorsement of the state Make-A-Wish Foundation executive director, and the backing of the Perham Lions Club, Schmidt hopes to dramatically increase annual fund drive donations.

"I would have preferred to start the scooter drive in my hometown, Perham. But we're getting support from Lions clubs all along Highway 10, so it seemed appropriate to start at the state border, and go all the way to Minneapolis," said Schmidt, a Perham Lions member who has also captured the endorsement of Lions District 5M9 Governor James Arvidson, who represents a large share of northwestern Minnesota.

"Nowadays, you have to do something different to get people's attention," said Schmidt, an active volunteer in the Perham area. "I thought this was a little off-the-wall and unique. Make-A-Wish state director Tom McKinney thought it was a great idea; a crazy idea-but he really loved it."

An avid motorcyclist, Schmidt and a dedicated core committee of East Otter Tail area volunteers founded the annual "Dreams for Kids" motorbike ride. The event has grown to include not only the ride, but also a raffle for a new Harley Davidson and a full day of activities, capped off by a dance. The fifth

annual Dreams for Kids bike run will be July 24, 2010, based at the Perham Pioneer Village. Over four years, the Dreams for Kids group raised $80,000 and granted 15 wishes, according to Schmidt.

For the new endeavor, "Scooting to the Next Level," Schmidt is "trading down" from a motorcycle to an old-fashioned, human-powered, two-wheel scooter. Who knows, a scooter ride of that distance may even qualify for a Guinness World Record.

The goals are two-fold. First and foremost, the objecticve is to raise at least $6,000, which is about the sum of one "Make-A-Wish" vacation. Secondly, Schmidt expects to make good time on his scooter so he can arrive in Minneapolis just in time for the annual Make-A-Wish Foundation ball and gala on May 1.

Taylor, a 15-year-old from Monticello who suffered burns over 80 percent of her body, will be the first recipient of the funds raised from the scooter ride. If more money is raised, it will be applied to other wishes, said Schmidt. Taylor's wish is to visit Paris.

The scooter route will pass through five Lions districts, and Schmidt will be stopping at numerous communities along the way for photo opportunities with Lions members and others from the various cities.

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota grants approximately 230 wishes each year across the state of Minnesota.

A child qualifies based upon four factors: child is between the ages of 2 and 18, the child lives in the state of Minnesota, the child's doctor certifies that the child has a medical condition that is considered life-threatening for the child, and the child has not received a wish from Make-A-Wish or any other wish granting organization. If a child meets all four of these factors she/he will receive a wish. The socioeconomic status of the wish family is not a factor at any time.