by Cori Hilsgen
More than 130 people biked the Wobegon Trail on Sept. 7 to raise funds for children. Riders started in St. Joseph, Avon and Melrose, and ended in Sauk Centre.
The eighth annual Lake Wobegon Regional Trail Ride is a family-fun event that benefits the Catholic Charities St. Cloud Children’s Home, a residential treatment home for youth at-risk, ages 8-18. It’s not a race.
The St. Cloud Children’s Home helps at-risk children turn their lives around. The program offers individual and family counseling, teaches coping skills during critical adolescent years, and offers additional resources. Many of the children who are served have experienced failures in the family, school and other areas.
Funds raised for the event are undesignated and designated. Undesignated funds go directly to the Children’s Home. Designated funds give trail riders a chance to name a local participating faith community which will receive up to 50 percent of the donated funds, with the rest going to the Children’s Home.
Organizer Chuck Rieland has been planning the trail ride for eight years. He is the founder and director of the ride. Reiland said he has a goal to raise $1 million and they have raised $600,000 in the past eight years.
The event began after the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. Reiland is a vice president and financial advisor for Morgan Stanley.
During, the attack, Morgan Stanley had employees officed on 45 floors between the twin towers.
Rieland said they were fortunate the first plane did not hit their floors. They were located on floors 1,500-3,500. He said their security people, all of whom lost their lives, ordered everyone out of the south tower at the same time. They had 18 minutes to evacuate, which gave them enough time to get people to the lower levels of the tower. When the second plane hit the south tower, their training center and their employees had all evacuated.
“The attacks on that day had a profound effect upon me,” Rieland said. “We were doing some work for Catholic Charities Children’s Home over in St. Paul, part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Diocese, and I was looking for a positive result because of what had happened. I asked for some guidance and low and behold during the middle of the night, this idea about the trail in Stearns County came to my head. I didn’t know there was a Children’s Home in St. Cloud, but I woke up one morning and I knew all of that for some reason.”
Rieland said Morgan Stanley is the biggest financial firm on Wall Street today and includes 19,000 brokers.
He said the event has gone on very nicely and many people have made contributions. He said the Morgan Stanley foundation and employees have been very helpful during the past eight years.
“In my mind, this (the trail ride) is me, it’s part of my DNA today,” Rieland said. “What I do for the Children’s Home is part of me – this is only the beginning.”
Rieland said his goal initially was to raise $1 million and he expects to meet his goal with the help of all of the people who have attended the event. The event is growing every year. He said they hit $80,000 last year and will hit $100,000 this year.
Rieland said this year the main cottage, number three, at the Children’s Home needs to be replaced; it’s nine years old and is no longer useable because of monitoring capabilities.
“The Wobegon ride has made a commitment to the building fund for $150,000 over the next three years,” Rieland said. “We need that first $60,000 to take care of the scholarship programs that are in place today through the Children’s Home. After that, we’ll raise the money to get the additional $150,000 over the next three years. That’s a very important part of this.”
Rieland said he is still affected by replays of the Sept. 11 attack. Because the Morgan Stanley home-base office was located at the World Trade Center, he attended his six-week training their 29 years ago and returned as a speaker for the graduating class on two different occasions.
“I told people these were the two most important buildings in the world and that proved to be true,” Rieland said. “On the day of the attacks, 239 countries had people in the center. It was truly the World Trade Center of the world and the terrorists figured that out.”
Rieland said he has been fortunate.
“For me, I have had great health all of my life,” Rieland said. “I have great background, parents, school and all of that stuff. Now I have some ability to help pay back and that’s most important to me. The ride is not about me, I just happen to be leader of the pack, nothing more than that. The following has been great.”
Reiland has been married to Lucy for 42 years and has worked at Morgan Stanley for 29 years. They have one daughter and two sons. Their daughter, Dr. Brenda Larson, is married to Max and is a hematologist/oncologist. Son Greg is married to Sara and is Chuck’s business partner at Morgan Stanley. Their other son Mark is an electrician. They also have three grandchildren, Carly, 9, Matthew, 6, and Joseph, 3.
Rieland’s entire family is involved in the trail ride event. Greg and Mark are the transportation and logistics people and all have helped financially support the event.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.