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Fundraiser delivers a jolt to Fort Dodge

AEDs will be installed at local businesses

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Lori Branderhorst, director of Fort Dodge parks, recreation, and forestry, accepts an AED on behalf of the city of Fort Dodge from Bruce Breeser, organizer of the Prairie Rivers Trail Ride that raised the money for it.

The committee that organized the Prairie River Trails Ride in August delivered five automated external defibrillators to local businesses Wednesday, delivering a jolt to the community in more than one way.

The ride, which hoped for 25 riders, ended up with just over 200 on the day of the event, enough to raise more than $5,000 to deliver five AEDs to local businesses.

“Our family can get more than 25 people to anything,” joked Mike Doyle, father of Josh Doyle, the late construction worker honored by the first fundraiser.

Doyle died on his job site from a sudden heart problem, aortic dissection, that killed the 29-year-old two years ago.

An aortic dissection is a rare condition in which the inner layer of the large blood vessels branching off the heart tears, most common in men in their 60s and 70s.

But organizers were pleasantly surprised when Iowa Heart Center, of Fort Dodge, offered to donate two more of the lifesaving devices on top of that.

Recipients of the first AED donations were the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, Fort Museum and Frontier Village Opera House, Athletics for Education & Success’s Gym, the Oleson Park Bandshell and Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex.

Now, they’ll have to find a home for two more — a good problem to have.

The big heart Josh Doyle was known for found its way back to Fort Dodge, receiving a stronger response than organizers anticipated.

In addition to raising awareness of cardiovascular health, the fundraiser has helped elevate awareness of Fort Dodge’s trails.

“The biggest thing is community engagement,” said Lori Branderhorst, director of Fort Dodge parks, recreation, and forestry. “To get people out on our trails is huge.”

Organizer Bruce Breeser said the promotion is already working, with new people using the trails since they first saw them on the fundraiser’s ride.

Branderhorst said the trails ride has served as a catalyst for the city’s trails, sparking interest with another group that is planning to do monthly trail rides.

“That was because a lot of them participated in this trail ride,” she said.

It’s an organic response the city couldn’t buy from a public relations or marketing firm, and one Branderhorst said her department is grateful for.

“The city and county don’t have the resources or personnel to program the trail,” she said. “We’ve been building them. This organic committee, this is what Fort Dodge is about.”

The interest sparked by the ride and donation has brought perhaps more in spirit than a few thousand bucks from the ride’s registration fees ever could.

“It’s a big donation to the community,” Branderhorst said, in more than one way. “We really count on these volunteer groups to promote the trails.”

She said the city is trying to get a formal committee running, sponsored by the city, that can involve the city officially in more marketing and promotion of the local trail system as it starts to implement its Webster County Hike and Bike Trail Master Plan.

“You’ve got engaged people that are truly selfless about this whole thing,” she said. “It’s a pretty big deal.”

Already, Breeser said the group can’t wait to plan next year’s event, which they would like to take down Central Avenue.

The event may change its cause or beneficiary to raise awareness of different concerns that touch the community each year.

“What a great thing you’ve done,” is the feedback Breeser keeps hearing.

He wanted to plan something with a purpose, and he found one.

Breeser reminds riders who did not pick up their T-shirt the day of the event to pick them up at their earliest convenience at River Hops Brewing, 1014 Central Ave.