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Challenge Games adds events to keep things fresh

RED WING — Steve Babcock donned a shirt saying "Got cuffs?" for the first time Wednesday night.

Called in as an emergency substitute, he joined coworkers from the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing to compete in dodgeball as part of the city's Challenge Games. The shirt was the team's uniform. Despite having been an employee for five years, it was his first taste of the popular competition. He left sweaty and smiling.

"It was a lot of fun," said the Iraq War veteran. "It definitely helps build a little camaraderie."

The 30th annual four-day competition wrapped up Thursday. Fifteen teams from local businesses competed in 25 events, ranging from euchre to volleyball to video games. The event is organized by the Red Wing YMCA and raised more than $3,000 in 2009 for youth programs and Camp Pepin.

Event director Josh Thygesen says the games have drawn as many as 28 teams in the past, but that number has fallen in recent years. No matter the numbers, technology has made scheduling a much simpler process.


"I can remember (program creator) Dave Borgen drawing numbers out of a hat and saying Team 1 versus Team 5," YMCA employee Dave Anderson said.

Dodgeball was added this year, and when the games were over, many people said it was their favorite event. Thygesen also added a ski-jumping game on Wii, which delighted the bar crowd at Elks Lodge.

"I try to think of something fun that no one really practices a lot that we can get some laughs out of," Thygesen said.

Kevin Riester of Automated Equipment said that while the games are competitive, winning isn't the main goal. Instead, it's a unique time for coworkers and competitors to bond outside of the office.

"It's a neat thing for the community," Riester said. "All of the other little communities, I tell them what we're doing, and they're like, 'Oh, that's so cool.'"

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