Residents get bailed out of jail for a good cause

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 29, 2002

When Jean Hastings arrived Wednesday at Applebee's, she faced some jail time.

She was given a black and white striped shirt and a row of plastic bars was put in her hands.

"We're a non-profit jail, so you'll have to hold your own bars," said a cheerful Karen Oldemeyer, program coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

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Hastings was one of 90 Austin "jailbirds" in the Muscular Dystrophy Association Lock Up, a fundraiser where local people raise money for people who have muscular dystrophy in southeastern Minnesota.

The participants were "arrested" and taken to a "jail" at Applebee's in a white limo. Each participant's goal is to raise $1,000 to get out of jail, but on average most raise about $250, said Randi Scholtes, MDA district director.

Last year participants raised $10,000 and that became this year's goal. At 1:25 p.m., the group had already surpassed that goal and by 5 p.m. Austin locals had raised $15,560.

Participants found out about two weeks ago that someone they knew volunteered them to participate in the fundraiser. Most participants raised some money before coming to Applebee's.

When Mary Jones came into Applebee's at 1:20 p.m. she had already raised $830, putting MDA over its goal of $10,000. This was the first year Jones, a co-owner of Kestner Electric, had participated in the Lock Up.

"I think it's a great idea," Jones said. "I give to (MDA) every year anyway."

Hastings, of Hastings Shoe Store, also donates during the MDA telethon each year, but this was her first year in the Lock Up. She had raised almost $300 before coming to Applebee's, but didn't think she would reach the $1,000 goal.

"I don't know that many people," she said with a laugh.

St. Mark's administrator Jim Ingersoll had raised about $400 before coming and had brought a list of about 20 people to call while at Applebee's.

"I think it's a neat idea and obviously they've seen some success with it," Ingersoll said.

Kim Nelson, director of Apple Lane Child Care, thinks its successful because most of the participants are part of the business community.

"It puts the pressure on," Nelson said.

After about an hour in "jail," Nelson was released, having finished her calls and raising $334.

The money will help six or eight families in southeastern Minnesota with medical expenses, wheelchair purchases and the fee to send the child to camp, Oldemeyer said.