Morrison County Record

Little Falls asked to be part of ‘Relay of Voices’ as it runs the river summer 2019

by Terry Lehrke

Victoria Bradford who lives in Chicago is a runner and an artist. As such, she’s been dreaming of how to bring the two together.

Originally from Louisiana, Bradford has been pondering a long-distance, inclusive race, that would take her down the Mississippi River, starting at Itasca, to her Louisiana hometown of Venice. Sort of “Running Home,” she said.

Along the way, her dream for herself and her five relay mates, is to stop in various towns to rest, listen to and compile stories from residents about life on the river, and put on an artistic performance for the community.

Bradford stopped in Little Falls Wednesday to share her dream and to ask those gathered to dream with her.

Her team would need a place to stay and something to eat, as well as connections with people willing to share their stories about life in the river town, and willing to share part of their day with the group.

A public performance by the artist/runners would pull together all they had learned in the town.

Other towns she’s already made contact with have plans to create an event around the arrival of the runners, and she invited Little Falls to do the same.

Area runners would also be invited to join the 2,300-plus mile run virtually via body cameras the Relay of Voices group will be wearing and, as the group gets closer to Little Falls, run with them physically by meeting them several miles out of town.

Deb Boelz, president/CEO of the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce has been in contact with Bradford since February.

“This is not a concept that I would have thought about doing. The plus for Morrison County is the use of the Mississippi River Trail route through the area and the body camera filming in real time of the course that the runners are on,” Boelz said.

“I could see this being a fundraiser for a local organization once it is done. Instead of a walk-a-thon or race, write the check and complete the route at your leisure watching the route from your iPad,” Boelz said. People from around the world will be able to view the beauty that is us!”

The next steps will be the logistics, Boelz said. “Where will they stay, who will feed them, who are the community people that will be shadowed and where is the public performance space” are all needs to be addressed.

Several community leaders met with Victoria Bradford to learn of her vision of a relay run along the Mississippi River from Itasca to her “home” in Louisiana. They included front row (from left): Liz Rydeen with the Franciscan Sisters; Jill Moore with Great River Arts; Jackie DeVine, a runner who organizes several 5K runs in the area and Deb Boelz, president/CEO of the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Back row: Robyn Gray with St. Francis Music Center; Kris VonBerge, executive director of the Little Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau; Peter Grams, a runner and owner of Melgram Jewelers; Kelly Desormey from Minnesota Power; Bradford; Sheila Watercott, with the Little Falls School District; Peter Keyes, director of Christian Outreach, Zion Lutheran Church; and Heidi Jeub, artist and owner of heijue book + art and Noteworthy.

The group anticipates making it to Little Falls in late July or August 2019.

Between now and then, a lot must be decided.

Those who would like more information may contact Boelz at or (320) 632-5155.

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