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Nursing home visit was bikers’ challenge

Grace McNamara (pictured in the center in the wheelchair) received a special visit from her daughter and several bicyclists from Madison, Wis., while receiving care at the St. Croix Health Center nursing home.

New Richmond native Susan Maia McNamara has been using pedal power to visit her hometown every summer for the past 14 years.

McNamara, who lives in Madison, began visiting her parents 14 years ago by biking the 312 miles to New Richmond. The first several years she and one other woman accomplished the feat together.

Several years ago McNamara started asking others to join in the trek. In those years there have been several different routes that the bikers have followed.

This year, five women made the trip north, starting out on June 6. The trip took five and a half days to complete.

Biking along with McNamara were Jen Voichek, Sally Schlehlein, Diana Lardy, Kak Drogan and Chodon Lhundup.

“It’s a fun ride, very hilly in places but beautiful,” Schlehlein said. “I have done it twice now and both times we went up along the Mississippi and cut over at Maiden Rock to River Falls and then on to New Richmond.”

This year the women dedicated their ride to McNamara’s mom, Grace McNamara, 91, who recently had surgery. McNamara’s dad, Frank McNamara, died at the age of 94 last June.

When the bicyclists arrived in New Richmond, they stopped by the St. Croix Health Center nursing home to visit Grace McNamara and enjoy a brunch served by Ann McNamara, one of Susan’s sisters.

Schlehlein said seeing Grace’s smile at the end of the ride was worth the trip.

“We were all so pleased to find her looking healthy, strong and doing very well,” she said. “She regaled us with stories and made us laugh. It was a wonderful pleasant visit and we were delighted.”

For the first time ever, some money was raised as part of the ride. Lhundup used the opportunity to collect pledges to benefit Pedals For Peace, sponsored by the Eastside Friends of the Dharma organization.

Grace McNamara actually volunteered at the nursing home more than 30 years ago and helped with bingo, bowling, picnics and all kinds of parties at that time. She now enjoys many of the same activities as she recovers from surgery.

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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