FARMINGTON HILLS, MI (August 12, 2016) – Dennis Carlson, associate pastor of Faith Covenant Church, said he was just “putting the FUN back into fundraising” when he and his brother, Rod Carlson, participated in the 420-mile RAGBRAI XLIV, a bicycle race across Iowa.The pair raised more than $10,000 for the Paul Carlson Partnership Congo Clinic Initiative, which will help fund and dramatically improve clinics operated by the Congo Covenant Church (CEUM). The $10,000 Carlson and his brother raised will cover one full year of support for a clinic.
Dennis, a former missionary to several countries, including Congo, said he knows how important the clinics are to Congo. Both of his children were born at the mission hospital in Karawa.
Some 10,000 cyclists participated in the race, which ran from July 24 to July 30 and is sponsored by the Des Moines Register. In keeping with tradition, the race begins with bikers having their rear wheel in the Missouri river at Glenwood, Iowa, and ends with riders dipping their front tires in the Mississippi River at Muscatine.
Dennis, who rode the race in 1987, said he wanted to bust one false idea some people might have of Iowa. “Iowa is not flat!” he explained. “In fact, over the course of seven days, we climbed 18,488 feet in elevation—3,994 of them in a single day!”
Carlson said participants rode an average of 60 miles per day—“anywhere from 49.7 to 75.2 official miles each day and probably a bit farther once we found our way around the overnight towns to where we were sleeping.”
The duo slept one night on patio cushions on the basement floor of the Evangelical Church of Centerville, Iowa, and also met up with members from First Covenant Church of Red Oak on the first day and Faith Covenant Church in Essex on the second day, when the congregation was serving cyclists in various ways.
The Carlsons finished the ride, but Dennis emphasized that much still needs to be done. “There are still three more years to go on the project to provide solar panels, clean water, medical supplies, and a small refrigerator—like what most college students have in their dorm rooms—to provide for basic medicines!”