Event inspires college administrators to go two-wheelin’

September 11, 2013

From stevenspointjournal.com: “Event inspires administrators to go two-wheelin'” — GRAND RAPIDS — These days, Sue Budjac, of Rome, and Connie Willfahrt, of the town of Arpin, might consider riding their bikes to their Wisconsin Rapids campus office as a simple jaunt.

That might not have been the case last spring, when Budjac, Mid-State Technical College president, and Willfahrt, vice president of student affairs and information technology, decided to participate in Saturday’s centennial bike ride, a kickoff event to the college’s 100th anniversary celebration.

The ride will highlight the employee wellness program and offers a ride — or walk — at three levels: a 100K and 50K bike ride and 10K ride or walk, Budjac said.

“It (also) allows us to extend an invitation to community members throughout our district in hopes of engaging them in our celebration,” Budjac said.

The noncompetitive event benefits the college’s scholarship program.

“In addition to celebrating the college’s 100 years, it’s also an opportunity to celebrate and help reduce barriers for our students, because the funds that, either through donations that have been made or through registration fees, those funds are going to go to assist students through emergency loans and scholarships,” Budjac said.

More than 80 percent of the college’s almost 9,000 students at its four campuses get some type of financial assistance. The average age for students is about 28, and many are working and have families, Budjac said.

“They struggle every day to achieve their education goal, and a scholarship makes a huge difference in them being able to continue with school,” she said.

It might have been easy for the administrators to sit back and be content to help facilitate and support the event from a bystander aspect. But these two women decided to lead by example. They bought bikes, helmets — even bike wear.

“If I were a designer, I would design much more complimentary bike shorts,” quipped Budjac.

Willfahrt laughed.

“It’s not about fashion; it’s about comfort,” she said.

“What really motivated me was the excitement that has been brewing throughout the weeks and months of planning and wanting to jump in and be part of that,” Willfahrt said.

It’s been a work in progress, but both could be considered accomplished bikers. Willfahrt participated in her first official event, a 70-mile ride in Door County, which she proudly finished in just more than five hours.

Budjac’s practice route was a 60-mile trek around Lake Petenwell.

“That’s a lot of butt-to-seat time,” Budjac said, regarding the length of the rides.

Both said they have relished the training journey and look forward to Saturday’s ride. They’ll both participate in the 100K ride — just more than 62 miles.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying this, so I anticipate participating in an event at least once or twice a year,” Willfahrt said.

Budjac is along for the ride, but more as a recreational biker.

“I don’t see another 100K in my future, but I’ll keep riding,” Budjac said.

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