Bell ringers' marathon helps raise more than $77,000

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Noah Wiedenfeld made good on his promise to the St. Croix Valley Chapter of the Salvation Army Friday, Dec. 15 shortly after 3 p.m. when he rang his bell for the last time completing a 26.2-hour marathon as a volunteer bell ringer outside the Walmart store in New Richmond.

The Salvation Army's 30 Hour Marathon Ring for St. Croix County was able to bring in $77,382, with a wide variety of volunteers ringing bells at the red kettles in both New Richmond and Hudson.

The Management Analyst for the City of New Richmond looked a little like the Michelin Man bundled up to the point where ringing the bell required a flick of his wrist. Here's why.

"I'll start from the feet up. I've got winter boots on. I'm wearing four pairs of socks, later on tonight, I'll be putting hand warmers in my boots. Long underwear. I've got a base layer and two layers of pants and a pair of snow pants. Then I've got a long underwear shirt, a base layer shirt, three long-sleeved shirts, a hooded sweatshirt and my winter coat. Right now, I'm wearing one pair of gloves but I have a second pair if I need them and hand warmers for those if I need them later. I've got two hats on right now and a ski mask if I need to cover up my nose later on. So far, I'm warm and if it warms up, I can always take a layer off," said Wiedenfeld eight hours into the marathon.

According to Wiedenfeld, the most challenging stretch of the marathon was not the wee hours Friday morning.

"10 a.m. to noon time. Obviously at that point you've been up a long time. I had some visitors come out at one in the morning, three in the morning. You get a little energy again once it starts to pick up in the morning before people go to work. People came out to check to see if I made it through the night. But that later morning time, it's a little slower, once people are at work, at that time. There it just dragged along. It wasn't the cold, but I think it just kind of starts to hit you that, "Hey, I've been here 20 hours or whatever it was at that point. Kind of like a marathon at mile 20, 21 is where people kind of hit the wall," said Wiedenfeld.

Wiedenfeld is leaning toward a repeat performance next Christmas, especially with what he learned his first time around.

"I really enjoyed it. Seeing all the people, Obviously it's for a great cause. I've contemplated whether or not I could actually go longer. Now, kind of having a year under my belt, I've thought about what I might do differently, maybe starting at a different time. I have a lot of ideas, maybe invite the high school pep band to come out, different more exciting ways to make the time pass," said Wiedenfeld.

Wiedenfeld attributed his most challenging but successful debut to the many friends, family members and strangers to whom he was most grateful and, who kept him supplied with a variety of goodies from pasta to hot chocolate as well as stimulating conversation.

Wiedenfeld's perseverance paid off. His marathon effort helped raise more than $77,000 for Salvation Army in St. Croix County. Much of that support goes to Grace Place in New Richmond, which provides housing and assistance for families who have nowhere else to turn for help.

Donations toward the 30 hours were counted in all Salvation Army Ringer kettles in St. Croix County including: Baldwin, Glenwood City, Somerset, New Richmond and Hudson. The organization serves all of St. Croix County and is excited to see the community come together to help care for the less fortunate this Christmas.