GARDAR, N.D. – Supporters of Gardar Township Hall walked their way to more than $17,000 in donations.
Twenty walkers participated in the Miles in Memory of Mom walk-a-thon held earlier this month to raise money for renovation of the Gardar Township Hall. Ed Laxdal, Hillsboro, N.D., and Larry Olafson, Gardar, thought up the idea to re-create a 50-mile trek they and several other friends made from Mountain, N.D., to Pembina, N.D., in 1963.
The two men asked the Gardar Township Hall finance committee if they could walk 25 miles each and donate the money they raised through pledges to the township hall kitchen and bathroom remodeling project.
Volunteers have been working the past few years to remodel and construct an addition to the building on Gardar’s main street, which was built in 1898 as a lodge for a Toronto fraternal organization called the Independent Order of Foresters. The building in the town about 80 miles northwest of Grand Forks later was used for a school, then for a township hall, before it fell into disrepair about 20 years ago and was closed.
Since the remodeling project began a few years ago, residents of the town of nine people in Pembina County have donated time, materials and money to refurbish the hall.
Laxdal, who walks 10 to 15 miles a day around Hillsboro for exercise, got the idea for the walk-a-thon when he was outside doing his daily exercise, he said. He and Olafson, who both grew up in Gardar, haven't been able to help with the remodeling, so thought they would donate by organizing an event.
Several weeks ago, the men approached the Gardar Township Hall financial committee with the idea , and were given the go-ahead. The men decided they would dedicate the walk to the mothers, including their own, who provided food for township hall events over the years. Despite having no running water, no refrigeration and no stove, the women managed to serve food during events in the building.
Laxdal and Olafson spread the word about the walk-a-thon by telling family and friends and through social media. On walk day, June 13, 20 people participated in Miles in Memory of Mom. The participants’ miles ranged from 5, to Laxdal’s and Olafson’s 25-mile trek. Karen Kristjanson, the only girl in the 1963 event, walked 13 miles in the 2020 walk-a-thon.
Donations for the walk came in from across the United States, said Dawn Eckhardt, a member of the Gardar Township Hall finance committee.
“It was amazing. We had money from Texas, California and Wisconsin. There was one from Canada,” Eckhardt said.
After the walk-a-thon, walkers and supporters gathered for a meal in the new township hall kitchen , which features a stove, two refrigerators and a large sink, in addition to a plentiful number of electrical outlets, Eckhardt said.
Laxdal initially hoped to raise $10,000 and would have been pleased with $15,000, and was excited that the total exceeded $15,000. He is glad he was able to raise the donations for the remodeling project, he said.
“I’ve been just amazed at what they’ve accomplished so far,” said Laxdal, adding he’s grateful for the walk-a-thon pledges made by his children, brothers, sisters and other relatives and hopes to host an event of his own for them at the township hall.
“The dream is to have a family reunion there in the next few years,” Laxdal said.
Besides the walk-a-thon, this summer the township hall has hosted a graduation gathering and has booked several upcoming events, including a rummage sale and family reunions. In August, the township hall likely will have an open house in conjunction with the Deuce of August celebration in nearby Mountain, N.D.