Nearly 25 years after Stephen Mackintosh moved to Texas, his friends in Minneapolis held an offbeat fundraiser for him -- a testament to the power of lifelong friendships.
Mackintosh was paralyzed in a bike accident this summer, and his friends knew biking had to be part of the fundraising plan. After calculating it was exactly 933 miles from Mackintosh's former house in southwest Minneapolis to his current front door, they decided to create a virtual bike ride to Dallas to fund an elevator for his home. Mackintosh and his family were invited to accompany them virtually.
A Minneapolis garage was converted into "Minnesota Mack in Motion'' central last weekend. It was decorated with a western motif, since they were "going to Texas.'' Four stationary bikes were lugged into place, and 35 riders were recruited to pedal them.
Best of all, said organizer Katy Vermeer, was that Mackintosh and his wife, Anne, checked in with riders throughout the Friday and Saturday biking blitz. The couple appeared via iPad, trading news with old friends, showing them where the elevator would be installed, and of course, thanking them.
"It was pretty incredible,'' said Vermeer, one of several friends who coordinated the event. "We kicked off Friday at 5. The music was playing. We were waiting for them to call.
"The first time they called in, they were both wearing bike helmets, just to be goofy,'' she said. "The second time they were wearing cowboy hats. The last time they called, he was wearing a goofy turkey hat and she was wearing a Pilgrim hat. He said, 'We just want to give thanks to you.'''
As the bikers pressed forward and friends stopped by to offer their support, a former co-worker of Mackintosh, Tami Meyer, cranked out nearly 100 loaves of banana bread to sell as part of the fundraiser.
The goal was to raise $20,000, and organizers expect to know if they reached that mark in the weeks ahead. Regardless, the event was a success, said Vermeer, and a moving experience -- in more ways than one.
Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511