On one of the hottest days of the summer, Aug. 16, Ashley and Brandon Christensen left Prairie du Chien to embark upon their 12-day Pedaling for Pets fundraising and awareness adventure. They traversed the state, making stops at animal shelters/humane societies in Viroqua, Sparta, Tomah, Marshfield and Park Falls before returning home and hitting Hayward, Eau Claire and La Crosse along the route.
In that time, they raised over $3,500 for Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter; provided eight other shelters with donations of dog and cat food, towels, blankets, litter and toys; and gleaned invaluable information to be used in the construction of RABAS’ future shelter in Prairie du Chien. Personally, the couple also checked the incredible journey off their bucket list.
“I’m glad we did it. A lot of people choose not to do something like this with their free time or they don’t have the opportunity to do so,” Ashley said. “This trip started out as something we wanted to do for ourselves, but we’re proud we were able to help an organization along the way.”
Every day, the two mounted their bikes—Ashley a hybrid and Brandon a mountain bike—around 7:30 in the morning. They were usually done by 2 p.m. and then took time for relaxation and sight-seeing. An anonymous $2,500 donation helped cover the cost of hotel rooms, gas, food and other needs along the way. Though they initially planned to pedal 750 miles, they only did 540, opting to drive certain parts of the route where construction would have increased their biking miles significantly.
In the end, it was still a grueling 12 days, done more than a week ahead of schedule.
“Brandon was always two miles ahead of me so I was by myself with my thoughts a lot,” Ashley noted. “I had to push myself. I was like, ‘Come on girl, you can do this!’ One hill took forever, but I just kept looking down and moving forward.”
Though the scorching heat impeded with Ashley’s ability to complete all of the first day’s planned trip (she did half), Brandon did the whole thing.
“It was my choice to do this trip but my husband was a real trooper,” Ashley said. “I hope we inspired others to do something to make a difference for the greater good because we need more of that in this world.”
Ashley and Brandon toured eight facilities during their journey, including the Vernon County Humane Society in Viroqua, Monroe County Animal Shelter in Sparta, Chasing Daylight Animal Shelter in Tomah, Marshfield Area Pet Shelter in Marshfield, Catkins Animal Rescue in Park Falls, Northwoods Humane Society in Hayward, Bob’s House for Dogs in Eau Claire and Coulee Region Humane Society in La Crosse.
“At each place, they basically gave us the rundown of how their facility worked and the fundraisers they’ve done. Plus, we took pictures of certain things that might be helpful for RABAS,” Ashley explained. “The RABAS building committee also put together a survey for them to fill out.”
Ashley noted that she and Brandon were most impressed by the Northwoods Humane Society in Hayward. It featured an outdoor pack kennel that kept dogs, cats and kittens separated as well as cat trees. “What was really neat was that the thrift store in their town took donations that benefitted the shelter,” she said.
All in all, Pedaling for Pets was a fun and memorable challenge for the Christensens. “Ultimately, everything was for the animals,” the animal lover herself proclaimed. “We’re excited to take all the information we received and make the best shelter possible here.”
Donations are still being accepted for Pedaling for Pets. Contact Ashley at 412-0680 or visit www.gofundme.com/ohiqa0 to contribute. T-shirts are also still available for sale.