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'Pedal for a Purpose' participants cycle in support of YMCA La Crosse annual campaign

'Pedal for a Purpose' participants cycle in support of YMCA La Crosse annual campaign


Spin classes are a recipe for sweaty foreheads and sore legs, the tradeoff a burst of adrenaline and a sense of strength and accomplishment.

And on Saturday morning, dozens of stationary bike enthusiasts dismounted their cycles feeling the additional pride of giving back.

Participants in the 2020 “Pedal for a Purpose” Spin-a-thon, held at both the YMCA’s Dahl Family and RW Houser Family branches, laced up their sneakers for a leg-pumping workout ranging from 45 minutes to nearly four hours in support of the YMCA’s Annual Campaign, which boasts a goal of $850,000.

This was the first year the event was offered at both the YMCA’s La Crosse and Onalaska facilities, which both feature renovated cycling studios with updated lighting, paint and decor.

Pedal for a Purpose

Cycling enthusiasts power through the YMCA "Pedal for a Purpose" Spin-a-thon Saturday morning. Held at both the Dahl Family and RW Houser Family YMCA branches, the event raised funds for the Annual Campaign. 

“We wanted to serve more people and build more awareness for our annual campaign, and highlight our new studios” said Kylie Wiltgen, fitness director at the Dahl Family YMCA. “Spinning is very popular, especially in the winter months. With cycling, it’s a low-impact exercise so it appeals to all ages and levels of fitness.”

The Dahl location anticipated about 100 participants between the morning’s five Spin-a-thon sessions, with cyclers welcome to stay for any number of classes with the contribution of a “meaningful donation” toward the annual campaign. Every dollar will stay local to support YMCA programs and offerings including financial assistance, veteran services and youth engagement.

Also benefiting from the annual campaign are the Community Teen Center in La Crosse, which offers an inclusive, engaging and safe space for 8th through 12th graders to interact, craft, eat and recreate, and LIVESTRONG at the Y, a free 12-week program for cancer survivors that focuses on both physical and mental wellbeing.

“The annual campaign really helps us stay true to our mission of helping everybody learn, grow and thrive,” Wiltgen says. “Donations give us the means to continue to offer these things that are so important to the community.”

Brenda Murray was among the some 30 participants in the 9 a.m. Spin-a-thon session in La Crosse, pumping her legs to turned-up tunes as the studio lighting transitioned from blue to purple to green to red.

Murray, who planned to power her way through a second class, calls spinning “more motivating than doing something on my own.” Murray praised the instructors and variety of activities offered at the YMCA and was happy to contribute to the Annual Campaign.

“The Y does so many good things in the community and (the campaign) makes the Y more accessible for all,” Murray said.

While some Spin-a-thon goers committed to consecutive sessions to add to their YMCA indoor triathlon miles, Mark Kendhammer planned to push through all five simply as a challenge to himself, with the philanthropic aspect an added bonus.

“(I enjoy) the atmosphere, the people, the fitness,” Kendhammer said. “It’s just a great cause.”

Emily Pyrek can be reached at


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