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Charly Haley, Published December 01 2012

College mascots square off in bell-ringing battle

FARGO – There were plenty of hugs, high-fives, thumbs-ups and fist bumps as three familiar characters thanked their supporters on Saturday afternoon in front of Scheels here.

Thundar of North Dakota State University, Scorch of Minnesota State University Moorhead and The Kernel of Concordia College competed in the Salvation Army’s fifth annual mascot challenge, ringing bells to see which school’s fans would bring in the biggest haul for the charity.

“It’s great. It’s a real blessing,” said Capt. Bill Mealy, pastor and administrator at the local Salvation Army.

Last year, the mascot fundraiser made $28,000, Mealy said. This year’s total was not available at press time.

Mealy was personally cheering for Thundar, who was off to cheer on the NDSU football team in the playoffs later in the day. The Bison mascot raised the most funds for at least the past four years, Mealy said.

Student-athletes also rang bells in front of Scheels on the sunny afternoon, helping their respective mascots attract donations.

“It’s a blast seeing the three colleges out competing but with a common goal,” said Peter Dahlberg, a senior at Concordia. It was Dahlberg’s second year helping The Kernel.

MSUM junior Tory Hoffman, who was helping Scorch in the challenge for her second year, added that Saturday’s warmer weather helped make the event fun.

The mascots were bell-ringing from 10 a.m. to noon, and the student-athletes stayed until 3 p.m.

Becky Barker, of Gardner, went to Scheels specifically to support the Bison because she and her husband went to NDSU, and her husband used to play Bison football.

“The Salvation Army is a great cause, and I would think it would bring people out,” Barker said.

NDSU biology professor Wendy Reed and her 8-year-old son Jacob Clark also donated to Thundar’s kettle.

“Getting the colleges involved like this is a wonderful service,” Reed said.

Although Clark gave his money to Thundar, he said, “I like the Bison and the Dragons.”

Rick Larson, from Fargo, agreed that the event was a helpful service.

“I think it’s great that the money goes to a good place,” he said. Larson, an MSUM alumnus, put his donation in Scorch’s kettle.

Mealy noted that all Salvation Army funds raised locally stay in Cass and Clay counties. The local Salvation Army’s total fundraising goal this season is $825,000.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311