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'Achievement, accomplishment, satisfaction': DL man sets ambitious $20K fundraising goal for his 10th Habitat ride

Dave Peterson, of Detroit Lakes, has taken part in the Habitat 500 Bike Ride for the past nine years, raising more than $50,000 for the affordable housing nonprofit, Habitat for Humanity. This year, in honor of his milestone 10-year ride, he's set an ambitious fundraising goal of $20,000. Submitted photo1 / 2
Peterson and one of his daughters, Angela, took the Habitat 500 Bike Ride together in 2015. The father of four has taken the ride with his kids multiple times over the years. Tribune File Photo2 / 2

From the very first Habitat 500 Bike Ride Dave Peterson joined in on 10 years ago, there've been unforgettable moments for him and his family.

On the first and second nights of his first-ever ride, he recalls, "I watched my son Josh and (another rider) Mariah start to notice one another... which moved into riding together by the third day. This blossomed into their marriage a few years later!"

Josh and Mariah have since ridden together in the Habitat 500 on several occasions.

Peterson and his wife, Joy, are the parents of Josh and three other grown children — Daniel, Angela and Melody — and almost everyone in the family has taken at least one Habitat 500 ride over the past decade, or has volunteered for the ride in other behind-the-scenes ways.

The Habitat 500 is a Habitat for Humanity-hosted 500-mile ride around the Midwest to raise funds and awareness for decent, safe, affordable housing. The ride's website states that as many as 135 riders take part, choosing either a full-week ride or a three-day option. They visit Habitat for Humanity affiliates, work sites and homeowners along the way.

In a press release from Habitat for Humanity, Peterson states that he's been moved by the stories of families impacted by the organization, and "as a dad, it's such a good feeling to see my kids impacted by these same stories."

Peterson told the Tribune he's been riding bike since he was 10 years old and had a paper route—and he never quit. Today, the retired Detroit Lakes pastor is still an avid rider, putting in about 30 to 45 miles, three to four times a week. He's an active member of the Lakes Area Bike Club, which regularly gets together for group rides.

To prepare himself for the Habitat 500, Peterson says he focuses on three things: "The lungs, the legs and the behind. The only way to prepare is to ride."

A native of Elbow Lake, Minn., Peterson retired last fall after 25 years as the pastor at First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes. He was already a supporter of Habitat for Humanity when he was first introduced to the Habitat 500. The ride has been raising funds for Habitat for 26 years.

Since Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota took over coordination of the ride in 2002, the event has raised nearly $5 million, contributing to the construction of 2,500 homes around the state. Peterson alone has already raised more than $52,000 during his years with the ride. This year, in light of his 10-year milestone, he's set an ambitious fundraising goal of $20,000.

"I'm always known as an optimistic person," he says. "It's a stretch goal, no doubt about it. It'll take a couple of larger gifts, and I've written a couple of grants... Whether they'll come in or not, I don't know — but I'm hopeful."

Funds he raises will go toward the Detroit Lakes Area Habitat's next home build. Peterson has been on the board for the local Habitat for about the past 5 years, and he says he knows the Habitat 500 ride makes a big impact on Habitat homeowners as well as the greater community

"We all need a little boost in life sometimes," he says. "Over and over again the research points to all the positives that happen through home ownership. Positives for family, for neighborhoods, for community and so much more."

Each year, the Habitat 500 offers a new route, and this year's route will keep Peterson close to home, traveling through the "rolling hills and lakes area of central Minnesota," he says.

The ride starts Sunday, July 15 and continues through Saturday, July 21, beginning and ending in Becker, Minn. There will be overnight stops in Royalton, Alexandria, Staples and Pierz.

"The camaraderie that happens, the connections that are made," make the Habitat 500 a fun and personally meaningful way to make a difference, says Peterson. Reaching that finish line at the end of each year's ride provides "a great feeling of relief, of achievement, of accomplishment, satisfaction, and so much more."

He adds that he's hoping for good weather for this year's ride, and is looking forward to "being out on the road with fellow people who have a passion for building affordable housing and giving a little boost up."

For more information on the ride, visit www.habitat500.org. To donate to Peterson's ride, visit 2018habitat500.greatfeats.com/david-peterson. Donations are tax deductible.

The ride "is not about me," Peterson says. "It's about providing affordable housing for a family in Detroit Lakes."

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune as a reporter and magazine editor in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in Detroit Lakes with her husband, Dan, their 3-year-old son and baby daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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