Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Captain Jim Brickson rings a bell to break the world record

Crazy or amazing? We ask an 80 hour bell ringer.

Added on Friday, November 22, 2013

Captain Jim Brickson of The Salvation Army in Albert Lea, Minn., wants to set a world record by bell ringing 80 consecutive hours. You can donate online to support his effort during the marathon kettle shift which began Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 11 a.m. at Northbridge Mall (view photos). If Brickson finishes, he’ll go home to bed at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6. Watch a live video stream.

Our team sat down with Brickson to find out why he’s doing this and how he plans to stay awake. Along the way, we learned a few other interesting things – like why he decided to become a Salvation Army officer so late in life.

Brickson is known around The Salvation Army for being quite the character. His answers do not disappoint.

What possessed you to do this?

It just seems like the right time and the right thing to do. It’s about celebrating volunteerism and highlighting the sacrifice our volunteers here make all the time. If that means I have to stand up for 80 hours, I’ll do it. Plus, now that this has been made public, I kind of have to – I’m stuck. (Laughs.)

You’re a 50-year-old mountain of a man. Will your body hold up?

I think so. I’ve got a good pair of hunting boots I’m going to wear to keep my feet comfortable. My wife (Captain Lee Brickson) will have a nurse coming to check on me every eight hours. I’m more worried about the mental fatigue than the physical.

What’s the longest you’ve ever stayed awake?

Probably 40 hours.

Does 80 hours freak you out?

I’ve had sleep deprivation training – I’m a retired U.S. Navy machinist mate and a retired railroad engineer. Back then, 30 hours at a crack was nothing … but we did get to sit down. I think the last 20 hours will be the toughest. If I can’t do it, I’ll throw in the towel – I’m not that stubborn.

Will you really not get any sleep at all?

I get a five-minute break every hour, and that time can be accumulated. I’m going to save up and try to take a few quick naps. I just don’t want to get too deep into the REM sleep. Showers will wake me up, too – I can wash up at the Anytime Fitness next door to where I’ll be ringing.

You became a Salvation Army officer in 2007, well into your 40s. What led to that?

My wife and I had gotten hooked up with The Salvation Army through disaster volunteering and being foster parents. We started going to church at The Salvation Army in Galesburg, Ill. It got to a point where you need to do what God asks you to do. You either take His calling, or you end up working against yourself for a long time. We took our calling and here we are. We’ve been in Albert Lea seven years now.

What do you hope 80 hours of ringing will accomplish?

I want to bring the community together. I want to celebrate volunteerism in Freeborn County. There’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment that comes from sacrifice, whether it’s me ringing for 80 hours or one of our volunteers giving of themselves. That’s what this is about.

Stand Up for Freeborn County

Brickson has dubbed his effort “Stand Up for Freeborn County” and hopes it will raise at least $24,000. That’s about 10 percent of the Albert Lea Salvation Army’s overall Christmas fundraising goal of nearly $255,000. Donations to the Albert Lea Salvation Army pay for critical services such as food shelf and utility assistance, disaster relief, counseling, youth programs, spiritual enrichment and much more.

Volunteer bell ringers are needed now through Christmas Eve. Your shift will be much shorter than Brickson’s – just two hours. To sign up, call 507-373-8776.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Stultz / Albert Lea Tribune.