Tour de Fargo

Photo: Leslee Lane Hoyum. Tolleiv Vollen raised money for the Sons of Norway Foundation’s Humanitarian Fund for his 250-mile ride to the International Convention in Fargo, N.D.

Norwegian-American man raises funds for Sons of Norway Foundation

Leslee Lane Hoyum

Norwegian American Weekly

C’est magnifique! According to Tolleiv Vollen, 69, of St. Cloud, Minn., the Oslo International Summer School (ISS) in 1964 changed his life, and it was time to give back. An active member in Trollheim Lodge of Sons of Norway and an avid bicyclist, Tolly, as he’s known, decided to ride from Sons of Norway International headquarters in Minneapolis to the International Convention in Fargo, N.D., a 250-mile trip, to raise money for the Sons of Norway Foundation’s Humanitarian Fund, OISS scholarships and, he hoped to have a little left over for his own lodge’s scholarship fund.

“I wanted to help the Foundation in some manner, and riding a bike is something I enjoy,” said Tolly. “Sons of Norway CEO Eivind Heiberg and Foundation Director Cindy Ruona Olson were extremely supportive. All the folks along city streets, county roads, and the Lake Wobegon and Central Lakes Bike Trails were incredibly helpful.

“The co-owner of the Scandinavian Gift Shop in Alexandria, Minn., Heidi Bergerson and her husband Chad provided a bed and food for me. Down the road Sons of Norway District 1 President Barbara Olsen and her husband Chuck filled me up with rømmegrøt, lefse and strong coffee. I even met a 95-year-old man in a Rothsay, Minn. café who guided me to the city’s landmark, which he helped construct: a 9,000-pound, 13-foot high prairie chicken! Except for one flat tire, the trip was uneventful with blue skies and 80-degree weather.”

When asked what his most memorable experience was during Tour de Fargo, he said with tears in his eyes, “As I was getting ready to leave Minneapolis, a woman who appeared disheveled and homeless said to me, ‘You have a good cause, here’s a dollar.’”

The woman speaks volumes. If every Sons of Norway member donated just $1, it would add more than $60,000 to the Foundation. Alumni of the Oslo International Summer School could easily triple that amount. It’s not too late to donate. Just go to to make a contribution, or send a check to the Sons of Norway Foundation, 1455 West Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408. Please indicate online or on your check Tour de Fargo. Tolly’s goal was to raise $1,500, but as of 10 a.m. on day two of the convention he had raised nearly $3,500.

Originally from Erskine Minn., Tolly is a retired school teacher and lives in St. Cloud, Minn. with his wife of 47 years, Karen. He plans to bike across the U.S. in the near future.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 24, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.