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Scootin' to next level: Perham man has scooter tuned up for marathon

Mark Schmidt gets some "physical backing" from Perham Lions President Gary Senske. On April 22, Mark Schmidt will embark on his scooter marathon from Moorhead to Minneapolis-to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

A Perham man's trek from Moorhead to the new Target Field-on an old fashion, foot-powered scooter-is gaining support from throughout the state.

Individuals, families, Lions Clubs and other organizations are expected to cheer-and pledge-to Perham's Mark Schmidt, as he pushes a scooter more than 230 miles. The scooter run for pledges is expected to raise more than $6,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The journey will start April 22 in Moorhead, where Lions leaders from across the state are expected for the send-off. Schmidt's goal is to reach Perham the first day. On May 1, he is expected to arrive at Target Field.

For the past four years Schmidt has made wishes come true for others; but on April 22 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 "Scootin' to the Next Level" with this new fundraiser.

Fellow Perham Lion Steve Tryggeseth has played an active role in coordinating the fundraiser. He is working on a timeline and a cell phone calling network to alert communities on approximate time of Schmidt's arrival.

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

To take the fundraising campaign for his favorite charity to another level, the Perham native schemed up the idea of a "scooter marathon."

With the endorsement of the state Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the backing of the Perham Lions Club, Schmidt hopes to dramatically increase annual fund drive donations. Single-handedly, Schmidt collected $1,700 in just a few days of soliciting around Perham-most of it in smaller, $20 to $50 contributions.

"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

"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, based at the Perham Pioneer Village. Over the past four years, the Dreams for Kids group raised $80,000 and granted 15 wishes, according to Schmidt.

For the new endeavor, "Scootin' to the Next Level," Schmidt is "trading down" from a motorcycle to an old-fashioned, human-powered, two-wheel scooter.

The goals are multi-fold. First and foremost, the objective 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 don a tuxedo and roll into the annual Make-A-Wish Foundation ball and gala May 1.

Serving as "poster child" for scooter marathon is Taylor, a 15-year-old from Monticello who suffered burns over 80 percent of her body. She will be the first recipient of the funds raised from the scooter ride. Taylor's wish is to visit Paris. Funds raised beyond Taylor's wish will be donated to another wish.

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.