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Pastor Bikes Alleghany Passage to Raise Funds

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Photo by Holly Nunn. Rev. Fred Hedt is in training for his upcoming ride from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Cumberland on the Great Alleghany Passage bike trail. He is raising money for the scholarship fund at Ascension School in Landover Hills.

Photo by Holly Nunn. Rev. Fred Hedt is in training for his upcoming ride from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Cumberland on the Great Alleghany Passage bike trail. He is raising money for the scholarship fund at Ascension School in Landover Hills.

Published on: Wednesday, June 30, 2010

By Holly Nunn

Rev. Fred Hedt isn’t worried about physical fatigue during his upcoming 129-mile bike ride on the Great Alleghany Passage.

He’s worried about getting bored.

“The hardest part is after about seven or eight hours, it just gets boring,” said Hedt, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in Landover Hills. “Thank God for iPods.”

Hedt is riding to raise money for the scholarship fund of Ascension School, the day school owned and operated by the church.

Last year, his 184.5-mile ride on the C&O Canal from Cumberland to Georgetown raised $28,000 for the scholarship fund. This year he hopes to raise an ambitious $50,000, only a fraction of the amount needed to fill the fund.

The scholarships are granted to students who demonstrate financial need. Traditionally, the church’s congregation of about 400 has been able to meet that need from the offering plate.

But the ability of families in the community to pay for private school education has diminished in the current economy and the congregation can’t quite keep up, said Hedt.

So, the pastor is hitting the road on July 15, which also happens to be his birthday. He will be turning 62.

His ride will start in Pittsburgh, Pa., and end in Cumberland on the same day. The ride also includes climbing 1,672 feet of elevation.

Hedt rides long-distance every summer and has been going farther each weekend in preparation—riding up to 90 miles a week.

He started bicycling after he bought his wife a bicycle for Christmas 32 years ago. When she didn’t use it, he borrowed it to ride to work.

“You know, you learn to ride a bike when you’re a kid, and when you get your automobile, you outgrow it,” Hedt said. “I rediscovered how much fun cycling is as an adult.”

So, when the church needed ideas to raise funds last year, Hedt combined his love for cycling with his love of Ascension School.

Ascension School, affiliate of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, was founded in 1952 and enrolls children in kindergarten through the eighth grade. During the 2009-2010 school year, 142 children were enrolled, and 30 percent of them received financial aid.

 “I recently sat down with some of the students who had graduated from here,” said Hedt. “And they were talking about their public high school experience. And they were saying, ‘Gee, you know, for the first two years we really weren’t learning anything that we hadn’t already learned at Ascension School.’ It just kind of underscored for me the academic excellence.”

Principal Donna Lucas said finding funds is the biggest challenge she has faced since taking over the school a year ago. However, she has continued to be impressed with what the school has to offer—including the rigorous academic program and a focus on fine arts.

Hedt and Ascension maintain a high level of involvement in the diverse community around the church. The church runs an ESL program for adults and a sports league for children in the community.

Sponsors for Hedt’s journey make pledges per mile, though he will be pedaling for free the first thirty miles.

More information on Ascension School or how to sponsor Hedt’s upcoming journey can be found at or by calling Ascension Lutheran Church at (301)787-8103.

Reader Comments - 4 Total

captcha 356f3d01fa8d4c5cbac8500e97c98443

Posted By: GAPR Fan On: 7/19/2010

Title: 62?!

Makes turning 62 something to look forward to.

Posted By: Ed Salners On: 7/2/2010

Title: An uphill climb in this economy!

Raising funds in this economy is not easy, and Pastor Hedt certainly has not taken an easy way out. With many schools cutting out everything but the core curriculum, Ascension is smart to focus on the fine arts. They know it is a key to reaching kids who would not otherwise have an incentive to stretch their minds.

Posted By: Hollis Turnham, Lansing, MI On: 7/1/2010

Title: Go, pastor, go !!

Ascension is a great school serving wonderful parents, children and communities.
My favorite IPod selections are "This American Life" and anything by Janis Joplin.

Posted By: r8ts9 On: 7/1/2010

Title: Friend

I like the the way you captured the spirit and essence of pastor Hedt' passion for his church, school and community. Your writing style is unique, its appealing and objective with passion. I'm sure this article will enable him to raise 50,000. plus.
Great Job young lady and keep up the good work.


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