Beds barrel down Buck Hill for charity

More than 135 teams of costume-clad participants raced on queen mattresses.

Vadim Lavrusik

When history junior Garrett Mitchell was getting ready for bed Saturday, he decided to put on a black gown. And instead of going to sleep, he raced the mattress down the slippery slopes of the Buck Hill tubing area.

Mitchell, who is also philanthropy chairman of Omega Nu Alpha, joined with fellow fraternity members to dress up in costumes and race in the eighth annual Bedrace for Bridging event, held at Buck Hill in Burnsville.

More than 135 teams gathered to be part of the event in which participants paid $150 per team of four and were encouraged to dress up in costumes that ranged from Lucky Charms pieces to six guys dressed as a six-pack of beer with two others accompanying them, dressed as limes. The costume-covered teams then raced downhill on plastic-covered, queen-sized mattresses.

Omega Nu Alpha, a fraternity which has a local chapter only at the University, entered four teams, raising $600 that will go to Bridging, a nonprofit organization in Bloomington and Sauk Rapids, which helps families in transition who are moving or are low-income by donating furniture and other household goods.

According to Ron Osterbauer, executive director of Bridging, the organization helps more than 100 families a week, 70 percent of which include single mothers.

“When you consider over 80 percent of families earn less than $15,000 a year, there’s just no money available for them to buy furniture and household goods,” Osterbauer said.

The fraternity has made Bridging its local charity and declared Bedrace for Bridging its primary philanthropy event, Mitchell said.

“We want to give back to the community we’re a part of, not someone else’s,” Mitchell said.

“It’s a local charity, and it provides area people help.”

Jon Sandquist, brotherhood chairman of Omega Nu Alpha, hopes that by participating in the event and charity it will help promote fraternities.

“We’re always trying to get rid of the negative associations with fraternities,” Sandquist said. “This will help promote fraternities in a good way and the money will go for a good cause.”

Steve Pesek, president of Omega Nu Alpha, said the event also concludes the fraternity’s sweetheart week, in which sorority members compete to be the “Dreamgirl” of their fraternity. Mary Pantsari, a Delta Gamma candidate, raced on one of the fraternity’s teams.

Pesek, who said this was the fraternity’s second year participating in the bed race, promoted the event to other fraternities. Members of Phi Kappa Psi did not race, but volunteered in organizing portions of the event.

The event also was attended by mayors Gene Winstead of Bloomington and Elizabeth Kautz of Burnsville. During their preliminary run down the slope, the mattress hit a staff member’s all-terrain vehicle at the bottom of the hill. Kautz was reported to be “a bit bruised, but doing OK” by the event’s announcer.

During the race, five teams in separate lanes would race in a heat. The top three teams of each heat raced again in double elimination.

The top three teams with the greatest amount pledged in donations won prizes: first place, a trip for four; second, a season pass to Buck Hill; third, a six-month membership to Northwest Athletic Club. The event also included a costume contest and a concert after the races.

“Really, it’s a good time. It’s pricey, but it is a good time, except for me who’s half naked on top of this hill,” Mitchell said, while waiting in line to race in his black gown.