Karen and Jack DeMorett have been on a mission together. They have been active members of Habitat for Humanity for years, and they have each traveled to Honduras 14 times to provide medical and general relief to the poverty-stricken country. They have also worked together on a bicycle tour that has supported both of these missions.
The bicycle tour is called Tour de’ Prairie Lakes, and it takes place on Aug. 17 in Glenwood.
Families come together to ride in the Tour de’ Prairie Lakes, held each August. This shot was from last year’s event. Contributed photo
“It is our eighth annual bicycle tour, and it is a wonderful tour of Pope County for anyone who loves to bicycle and enjoy the outdoors,” said Karen. “It is also a great chance to view the beautiful scenery of Lake Minnewaska and experience the hospitality of west central Minnesota. It is a ride for anyone who likes to bike, and all are welcome — families, singles, young and old.”
The idea of a bicycle tour first started about nine years ago at a Habitat for Humanity meeting. Karen suggested a bicycle ride as a fundraiser for the group. She has been in charge of the bicycle tour ever since.
The Tour de’ Prairie Lakes starts in Glenwood and includes four trail rides; each one has a different length and level of difficultly, ranging from a casual five-to 10-mile ride to a 60- to 100-mile ride. There are food and beverage stands available throughout the tour. Three of the four routes go around Lake Minnewaska.
This year’s tour has special meaning for Karen as she will be watching over the ride without Jack, who died in March at the age of 75. The two were married for more than 50 years and were on many adventures together.
“Habitat has build eight homes in Pope County and is in the process of building the ninth home right now in Lowry,” said Karen.
And of all the money given to Habitat for Humanity, 10 percent is tithed into building homes in undeveloped countries. For Pope County, that country is Honduras. They picked Honduras specifically because of the DeMoretts and the time they spend there. The Habitat board figured Jack and Karen could keep an eye on things and make sure the money was well spent.
Karen said the average home costs about $3,800 to build in Honduras, so the impact from this money is far reaching.
As this year’s bicycle tour nears, Karen has her mind on planning the event, but also on Jack and the contributions he has made to Habitat, Honduras and this bike tour. Karen and Jack each went on 14 missions to Honduras. This year, Karen will be returning for mission number 15 ,and she will be bringing along her grandson, a senior in high school.
“It was something that Jack had been planning to do with his grandson for years, and now I will be taking him down instead,” she said.
Volunteers make the tour happen. Jack Demorett is pictured with two of the many volunteers who helped with tour last summer. Contributed photo
Karen said the bike tour would not be possible without the help of many volunteers manning stations for food and water, registration, road guards, sag drivers, scouts to check on drivers, those who place the signs on the route, people who make goodies for the food stands, and Jake from Jake’s Bikes in Alexandria for checking on bike problems.
“There’s a long list of helpers who are indispensable,” said Karen. “Habitat is certainly a volunteer organization.”
Karen also wants to thank the sponsors, who help with the financial aspect of the event.