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USLRA Feature

Charitable Fund Brings Success
to Local Programs

The sport of Log Rolling has taken off in the small northern Minnesota town of Virginia, thanks to the U.S. Log Rolling Charitable Foundation, which continues to pump resources and energy into start up programs.

Chad Buggert has worked in Aquatics management for the past 27 years. Before last fall, he’d never seen anyone attempt to log roll in person. He’d certainly never tried it himself. While Buggert, who’s currently the Aquatics Director at the Mesabi YMCA in Virginia, admits he had watched professional log rolling on television, he never seriously considered starting his own program. That was before what Buggert refers to as a “dumb luck” chance meeting. Last fall, when women’s professional log roller Sam Hadley contacted Buggert about starting an amateur program, he was less than optimistic. Six months later, Buggert’s description of Virginia’s new found program has changed considerably. When asked if he thought the new program was moving in the right direction, Buggert’s answer was more corrective than agreeable: “I have a feeling we’re going gangbusters”, he retorted.

What started out as a modest idea is perhaps, on the verge of going gangbusters. In a matter of months, Hadley’s proposed program has morphed into two full classes made up of a combined 15 students, and a second wave of potential rollers already asking when the next session begins. The program, which currently has a 15 inch #1 log, is already planning to add another log, and possibly start an outdoor program at nearby Silver Lake this summer. When Hadley originally broached the idea to Buggert, she essentially offered a concept that she hoped would be hard to refuse. One that would cost the local Y in Virginia virtually no upfront cost, in partnership with an organization that has been assisting youth Log Rolling for more than a decade. Fortunately for Hadley, the offer was one Buggert decided not turn down, thanks to the U.S. Log Rolling Charitable Foundation.

The foundation is made up of a small board led by President John Hallett, a former professional Log Roller who currently coaches the sport, in Oconomowoc, WI. In short, the foundation gives budding Log Rolling programs a log at no cost to start. If the program is a success, the program eventually pays the foundation back for the log through regular payments. If the program fails, it simply returns the log and is not responsible for any additional money. “There’s an application that’s available on line at,” says Hallett. “There are some basic questions about where the program is going to be, who’s going to run the program? We provide the log to the new program and we request that they repay the cost of that log over a three year period. So there’s no interest, there’s no financing charge and really no financial risk for starting a program. If for some reason the program is not successful, we take the log back so we can place it somewhere where it can be successful.”

Buggert, who eventually took Hadley up on her offer, says the early success of the new Mesabi program has far exceeded expectations, and credits much of the growth to the U.S. Log Rolling Charitable Foundation. “I’ve been running programs all over the world and I’ve never dealt with an organization that makes the process this easy,” says Buggert. “It’s expensive to start programs and the foundation made this process simple and easy. They said we’ll spot you the log, give you more than ample time to pay it off, no strings attached. The organization was awesome to deal with.” Buggert also stresses how accommodating the foundation was in terms of physically getting the log to the Mesabi Y. Virginia is located in rural Minnesota, about one hour north of Duluth, which potentially meant a nearly day long trip to pick the log up. Instead, the foundation agreed to make a delivery close to the half way point. “Their willingness to meet us halfway was great,” says Buggert. “We picked the log up in Hayward, WI (about two hours south of Virginia) and brought it back. My impression of them is fantastic. If more organizations did those things, they’d make things much easier and be more successful.”

Hadley teaches at the Mesabi YMCA.(Contributed photo)

Hallett admits not every program has had the same rapid success as the Mesabi Y in Virginia has had, but says recently several communities have used the foundation, and the organization is open to donating to more potential programs throughout the Midwest and beyond. “We’ve placed logs throughout Wisconsin in West Bend, Stoughton, as well as St. Paul, Minnesota and the one at the Mesabi YMCA in Virginia,” says Hallett. “We’re trying to increase numbers and eventually help programs sustain from within.” Several years ago Hallett started a brand new program in Oconomowoc, WI, which is a western suburb of Milwaukee. Hallett is convinced that locations like Virginia and other areas can build their programs the same way he has. “We started our program here in 1998 and some of the rollers who started as very young kids eventually became coaches and have taught log rolling as well as becoming successful competitors,” says Hallett. “We’ve currently got four 16 to 17-year-old kids who are now coaching and have become role models, and we’ve got several (amateur) World Championship titles among those coaches, and now they’re giving back to the sport.”

As Hallett’s Oconomowoc program enters its 19th year of operation, the community of Virginia continues to move forward in year one. “The words I’m hearing are that this is an awesome, inclusive program,” says Buggert. “Everyone is having fun and laughing and I love watching it. Parents and kids are even signing up together. We’ve really seen it work in a positive way. After the first class I didn’t lose a single kid or adult. I’ve had new people show up and join us mid-session and others who want to know when the next class will start.” Buggert, who credits Hadley with spearheading and running the program, says her ability to teach and lead by example, has given the new rollers a goal to chase. “When they see her up there rolling at a pro level it’s an example of what they could become,” says Buggert. “She calmly rolls on the log while explaining how it works and it’s like, wow, you can actually roll and talk at the same time. She makes it look easy and sets an example.” Buggert readily admits he hoped for the best when the Mesabi Y Log Rolling program started, but never imagined it would take off as it has. “The first night of lessons we gathered a few people to hang around the log to at least make it look good,” Buggert says. “If one or two people would have showed up, it would have been great. We ended up having 15 people show up the first night, enough to say let’s go, we can make this work.” It’s worked so well that the Mesabi YMCA is well ahead of schedule on paying off the log it purchased from the U.S. Logrolling Charitable Foundation. The log is expected to be paid off in full this spring, a strong sign that Virginia is setting down Log Rolling roots that could blossom in years to come. “That’s exciting to me,” says Buggert. “It gives us a chance to keep this going and dream big.”

Log rolling students at the Mesabi YMCA.(Contributed photo)

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