Marathon Miles: Crossing The Finish Line
By Alexis Mercer
I was sure I was going to cry from the nerves at 7:55. Only 5 minutes to go, waiting in the starting chute. What had I done to myself? But I kept receiving messages from my loved ones.
Mom: You are my favorite runner. You’ve got this.
Dad: I hope you enjoy the whole 26.2!
Mer (my sister): Run steady! Run with valor! You’ve got this!!
I took a few deep breaths and before I had a chance to think anymore, the race was starting.
At 8:12, in mile 2, I was feeling great. My legs were cooperating, the cold wasn’t defeating, and the energy of the runners and the crowd was lifting me up. I got a text on my watch from one of my athletes that brought tears to my eyes.
Kate: Hi Coach! I know you just started your race so I wanted to remind you what you always tell us. Keep the smile on your face and you’ll do amazing! By the end of the run you’ll be so exhausted but you will have achieved something you have never done before. So…Good luck!
That text alone carried me through to mile 10. I kept thinking about my teams of runners over the years and how I hope that they know I believe in them and their abilities. That running teaches us so many life lessons and that each of them is strong enough to conquer their fears and all the obstacles life can throw at them.
The smile stayed on my face the entire race.
I passed a medical station and there were some of the athletes from my cross country team with a mom who drove them cheering and taking pictures. I was surprised and humbled to say the least. The smile remained.
Going through Millennial Park was difficult. It was beautiful but it was just shy of the halfway point. The thought crept through my mind that I had gone out too quickly. Not ever having run a marathon before, I didn’t know what my race pace would even be. But I was feeling good and not at all fatigued, so I told my mind to just let my body take over.
Miles passed by and before I knew it I came across another family from my team. And then another. Athletes who got rides from their own parents. Athletes who rode with friends or other parents. My friend Lindsey who ran so many miles with me last winter. My dear friends Mollie and Amanda. It was almost too much for me to handle. They all showed up to watch me run.
Runners around me kept making comments that I had the best cheering section. I couldn’t agree more.
The smile stayed on my face the entire race.
I crossed the finish line. The official time was 4:24.0.
After crossing the line, I bent over and gasped for breath, not because my lungs needed air. But because I was overwhelmed with emotion.
I had done it.
My husband was there with our kids. Clint Abbott was there to take a video of me crossing the line. My team and their parents all joined me.
I grabbed the obligatory space blanket (which doesn’t do a lick of good for keeping the heat in, by the way), a bagel, cheese, water, and pickle juice (yup, that’s a thing), wiped my tears from my eyes and soaked in the moment of pure bliss. I took a prolonged look at the sky and smiled at my Grandpa Mackenzie, hoping he was smiling down on me with pride for the valor with which I ran.
There are many ways this process has changed me.
The most obvious is the physical changes I have undergone. I’m leaner, lighter and fitter. Whereas I used to hit a wall at 5 miles, I now can go 15 without second thought.
I feel physically stronger than I have since my college volleyball days. Throughout the months of training I suffered through minor aches and pains. But I made it without injury. Something I always had in the back of my mind. Could my body physically handle the stress I was putting it under? It did. And I feel great as a result.
I feel mentally stronger than I ever have. As in my whole life. Not because I completed the marathon itself. That was just the icing on the cake. Each day I woke up with a goal. I made choice after choice based on completing that goal. I pushed through more miles than I ever thought possible. Speed workouts and tempo days and long slow miles. Rain, humidity (ugh the humidity), sunshine that beat down on me for days, and even sleet. I ran on trails and pavement and dirt roads, paths, bike trails, and newly restored gravel (ouch). None of it was a chore. I enjoyed the process so much that I feel I will never be the same as before I started. It filled me up to the rim with joy.
I know now more than ever how blessed I am to be surrounded by the kindest, most loving and thoughtful people a person could ever ask to have in her life. It wasn’t just on race day where I knew this. The number of people who reached out in their own ways to support this journey was astounding. This love has given me more ….
“In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself.” L. Sterne
It’s this. In my daily life I am surrounded by people. For this I am grateful as I am surrounded by wonderful, supportive, joyful people. But from the time I wake up to the time I collapse in bed, I am never alone with my thoughts.
I get the kids ready for school. I talk with my husband and prepare for the day ahead with our family. I go to school and am inundated by questions, comments and conversation (often times multiple people at once asking and talking and needing things). It’s my profession. I am not complaining. It’s just the nature of the job - a job I love dearly. I head to practice and I work with 25 young adults, all of whom need my individual attention. I strive to make this as personal as possible; giving each what he or she needs to succeed. I get home and get to spend a few hours with my family. Asking how their days at school went. Talking about the problems and happiness of their days. Then when the kids are in bed, my husband and I get a chance to catch up. Relaying stories from our jobs and what we have planned for the week.
I fall into bed at night without having the time for my own thoughts.
But for when I run. This is my time. My mind gets to be wherever it chooses to be. I can focus on the run, I can focus on the beat of the music, I can listen to the peace of nature, I can solve problems, I can focus on my blessings. Wherever it wants to go it can.
When the going gets tough and my body is in pain, my mind learns to push back against the pain.
It learns when I need to smile and relax my shoulders and when I need to grit my teeth and demand that my body move faster, harder, stronger.
It learns where my breaking point is, and then learns that it can actually do more.
It learns that every so often the mind and body need more rest, and to listen to those signals so the next day or week can be better.
“The goal of training is simple,” writes Steve Magness. “We are trying to fundamentally change the person we are coaching.”
For all the teaching, coaching and parenting I do on a daily basis, I finally got to coach myself. I got to pour into my own body the time, attention and focus that I strive to pour into others each and every day.
While I don’t plan on having this abundant time for myself all the time, it is imperative that I seek it out occasionally. Because I am more whole, full of life and available for others when I can give my own mind and body attention.
So while certain things didn’t get accomplished most of the time while I was in the thick of training (like the dishes, laundry...except my running clothes… or organizing closets), the important things in life rose to the top. I prioritized family, friends, my team, love and connections above all else. I wasted no time. Because I didn’t have it.
Many people have asked me since I finished whether I would run another marathon. My answer, even minutes after crossing the line, has been a definite yes, without hesitation. Every ache, pain, hour of training, sweat, tear and moment of fatigue has been far outweighed by the positive growth I have experienced. First, however, it’s time to catch up on some good books, Sunday morning snuggles with my kids, and researching a fun location where my next race might take me.
Gerber Memorial invites community men to skip shavers, support babies
FREMONT – November means a lot of things in Newaygo County. Hunting season. Football. Thanksgiving.
And for Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial, beards.
Gerber Memorial is asking men to grow out their beards for a good cause in November, to support babies by raising funds that will benefit Gerber Memorial’s Family Birth Center.
During the month of November, the “Beards for Babies” fundraiser encourages men to grow a beard, a mustache or both, and ask friends and family to donate to their efforts as part of a friendly competition. On Nov. 28, the participants will display their facial hair during a “beard-off” showdown at Lakes 23 Restaurant and Pub.
Participants of the “Beards for Babies” event can sign up and use their custom page to raise funds, by sharing the link and their efforts with friends, family, coworkers and others.
“We can’t thank our community enough for opening their hearts and their wallets to support local families, and we wanted to give men in Newaygo County another excuse to ditch the shavers and help babies and moms at our Family Birth Center get a warm welcome,” said Loretta Towne, Gerber Memorial Foundation specialist and organizer of the event. “Every year, Gerber Memorial welcomes more than 500 young lives into the world, and our staff does a tremendous job making sure mother and child are safe and comfortable. This fun fundraiser is a way to support both the families we serve and our staff.”
This year, the fundraiser hopes to bring in $10,000 to purchase equipment that can provide comfort for moms and babies, as well as improve safety and training for the Family Birth Center staff.
A panel of judges will pick the best facial hair based on the following categories:
This is the second year the event is being held. At the inaugural event in 2017, nearly two dozen participants from Gerber Memorial and throughout the community helped raise more than $6,400. The funds helped two Gerber Memorial nurses, Jessica Kretoski, RN, and Amber Blamer, RN, become certified lactation consultants, who play a major role in increasing the number of new moms who breastfeed exclusively and are providing the best nutrition to their infants.
Participants will use Gerber Memorial’s fundraising website to raise $50 or more to earn entry into the “beard-off” contest. Those interested in raising money for “Beards for babies” as either a participant or a donor can go to: give.spectrumhealth.org/beardsforbabies.
Participants can create their pages by clicking on the “start fundraising” bar and following the instructions. Donors can give by clicking on the “support a friend” bar.
For more information or questions, call 231-924-3681.
Newaygo County Medication Take-Back Events October 27th
The Headway Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office, Newaygo Police Department, Fremont Police Department, and Grant Police Department are partnering to host medication collection events to help people safely dispose of unused and/or expired medications.
Medications can be dropped off Saturday, October 27th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the following locations:
Hometown Pharmacy in Newaygo
Family Health Care in White Cloud
Grant Fire Department
Fremont Fire Department
This event is free and anonymous; participants will not be asked any questions when dropping off medications. At Grant Fire and Fremont Fire, participants will be able to drive through the fire station to drop off their medications.
Items that will be accepted include: prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, ointments, sprays, inhalers, creams, needles, and pet medications. Items that will not be accepted include: bio-hazardous materials and household hazardous waste.
Newaygo County also has permanent collection boxes available at all law enforcement agencies, Newaygo Hometown Pharmacy, Family Health Care, TrueNorth Community Services and the Newaygo County Commission on Aging. At these locations, medications can be dropped off during business hours. Since these collection boxes started in 2014, 4,305 pounds of medication have been collected in Newaygo County.
The take back events and permanent collection boxes aim to address prescription drug abuse. Local survey data reveals that 47% of youth who have abuse medication in the past 30 days obtain the medication from their parents or grandparents medicine cabinets (SYS, 2016).
The event coincides with the DEA National Take Back Day, which is sponsored by the DEA to collect unused controlled substances. For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the October 27th Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website.
National Study: Spectrum Gerber Memorial Hospital is Five-Star Recipient for Treatment of Sepsis
Fremont– Spectrum Gerber Memorial Hospital Hospital is 5-star rated for Sepsis outcomes, according to a study released by Healthgrades, the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. This achievement is part of new findings and data featured in the Healthgrades 2019 Report to the Nation. The new report released today demonstrates how clinical performance continues to differ dramatically between hospitals regionally and nationally.
“Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial is honored to receive a national award that recognizes what we do every day, and that’s providing quality care to our patients from the moment we connect with them to the time they go home after a procedure and beyond,” said Gerber Memorial President Randy Kelley. “Gerber Memorial has cared for our community for 100 years, and this award reflects our commitment to the patients we serve. This award also reflects the teamwork and collaboration that go on every day among our staff, who all share the common goal of providing exceptional patient care.”
Every year, Healthgrades evaluates hospital performance at almost 4,500 hospitals nationwide for 32 of the most common inpatient procedures and conditions, as well as tracking outcomes in appendectomy and bariatric surgery using all-payer data provided by 15 states and the District of Columbia.* Gerber Memorial has received the Five-Star Distinction for Treatment of Sepsis for a fourth consecutive year (2016-2019).
Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. The risk of sepsis can be reduced by preventing or quickly identifying and managing infections. This includes practicing good hygiene, staying current with vaccinations, and seeking immediate treatment when infections are suspected.
The national Sepsis Alliance reminds the public to watch for sepsis by remembering the “It’s about Time” formula: “T,” for temperature, when it is higher or lower than normal; “I” for infection, when patients may have signs or symptoms of infection; “M” for mental decline, when the patients feels confused, sleepy and difficult to rouse; and “E,” for extremely ill, including severe pain or discomfort.
Variation in care has a significant impact on health outcomes. From 2015 through 2017, if all hospitals as a group performed similarly to hospitals receiving 5 stars as a group, then on average 222,210 lives could potentially have been saved and 157,210 in-hospital complications could potentially have been avoided.* A 5-star rating indicates that Spectrum Gerber Memorial Hospital’s clinical outcomes are statistically significantly better than expected when treating the condition or performing the procedure being evaluated.
Additionally, from 2015 through 2017, patients treated for Sepsis in hospitals with 5 stars for in-hospital mortality have, on average, a 40.2 percent lower risk of dying than if they were treated in hospitals with 1 star for in-house mortality.*
“Clinical quality varies significantly between hospitals, so it’s important for consumers to use information about outcomes to assess where to receive care,” said Brad Bowman, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Healthgrades. “This 5-star rating for Treatment of Sepsis showcases the expertise and commitment of Spectrum Gerber Memorial Hospital to their patients.”
For its analysis, Healthgrades evaluated approximately 45 million Medicare inpatient records for almost 4,500 short-term acute care hospitals nationwide to assess hospital performance in 32 common conditions and procedures, and evaluated outcomes in appendectomy and bariatric surgery using all-payer data provided by 15 states and the District of Columbia. Healthgrades recognizes a hospital’s quality achievements for cohort-specific performance, specialty area performance, and overall clinical quality. Individual procedure or condition cohorts are designated as 5-star (statistically significantly better than expected), 3-star (not statistically different from expected) and 1-star (statistically significantly worse than expected) categories. The complete Healthgrades 2019 Report to the Nation and detailed study methodology can be found at www.healthgrades.com/quality/.
* Statistics are based on Healthgrades analysis of MedPAR data for years 2015 through 2017 and represent three-year estimates for Medicare patients only.
By Kathy Morrison
5000 kilometers and some 50 plus days after leaving Darwin, in the Northwest Territory, Max Morrison of Fremont, pulled his bicycle to a stop in Perth, Western Australia. He embarked on this solo bike ride back in mid August to raise money for three environmental groups: West Michigan Environmental Action Council, The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, and the WWF of Australia. In previous editions of this publication, earlier parts of the journey were chronicled. The Australians or “Strayans” as they say, seem to have a relentless tradition of shortening words and peppering their speech with all sorts of marvelous slang and colloquialisms in their version of English called “Strine” (shortened form (of course) for Australian, which is of course, English). I thought it would be fun to add a few “Strine” terms in this article to give a taste of some of the words and phrases Max might have heard as he traversed the “Land Down Under” or the “Lucky Country” as they call their vast, diverse land.
When the last Near North Now article was published, Max had just made it to the far northwest point of the country and turning south, began his way down toward “the big smoke” - the city of Perth. From the dry, dusty red earth of the Kimberley and Pilbara areas, to the fresh new landscape, biking through the wheat-belt of Western Australia, his road was now never far from the Indian Ocean. As he traveled further and further South, he came to more populated areas than in the remote outback or the “GAFA” as they might say (I’ll let you look that one up!). Cycling through numerous small coastal towns with their inns, pastry shops, and restaurants, all signs pointed to greater population density and that he was out of “the bush”. This was both a welcome sight and a sad reminder that the trip was nearing its end and he would no longer be in some of those hauntingly remote and isolated areas he had come to love. Max does love good “tucker” though and in these sprinkling of towns was able to satisfy his appetite for a few delectables that were hard to come by when camping along the outback route - a “choccy biccy” or two and a slice of coconut covered “Lamington” cake, no doubt, washed down with a couple of ice cold “stubbies”
He made several forays away from the main road to visit some of the stunning, pristine beach areas of the Indian Ocean. One particularly fascinating place not far from the ocean is The Pinnacles Desert in Nambung National Park. The Pinnacles are the remains of an ancient limestone bed made up of coral and mollusks, now weathered and eroded, the limestone columns being all that are left. Max caught a few red kangaroos browsing on the local floral in Nambung. Fairly unbothered by humans, “roos” in many areas of Australia graze undaunted in the wild, but tourists are warned not to get too near as they can become defensive, especially a mother with a “joey” in her pouch or a mighty male “Boomer”. If provoked, they can use their powerful arms and legs to throw wholloping punches and one look at their claw-like nails leave no doubt that they were made for defense. Unfortunately, like the white tail deer in Michigan, these wild creatures have run ins with vehicles, causing the death of the animal and damage to many cars. With the frequent sight of dead kangaroos along the roads, is understandable why you see “roo bars” on the front of many vehicles for added protection.
On his 44th day hitting the road, Max dedicated his day’s cycling to our dear friend, Rocky Puska, of Newaygo, who died in a tragic wood cutting accident in September 2017. Rocky was a wonderful family man, area school teacher, and friend to many. Max pushed hard, feeling the encouragement of Rocky, as he pedaled 240 kilometers in a day (a touch over 149 miles). Rocky and Max shared a special bond with their quick wit and dry humor. Rocky would have loved to hear Max’s stories of adventure on the road and would have, no doubt, found just the right funny tee-shirt from his extensive collection or a favorite online site to bestow upon Max. In his Day 44 blog, Max said poignantly, “I thought about Rocky all throughout the ride today: I have no doubt the world would be a better place if we all had a bit more Rocky in us. And, all who knew Rocky do have a bit of his kind, caring, and comical spark alive within them.” For those of us whose who love and miss Rocky, truer words couldn’t have been spoken as the best of him does lives on within each of us.
The Aussies Max encountered along the last third of this trip continued to be “fair dinkum”, very friendly, helpful and down to Earth. In times of trouble, I am sure Max knew with those folks around, he could relax and whisper, “She’ll be apples!” After a posting about his journey on a Facebook message board for the small town of Carnarvon, which fell along his route, an incredibly affable woman named Tammy responded, literally within minutes, inviting him to stay with her family if he was planning on a night in the area. I wonder how many of us would do the same - inviting a perfect stranger in for dinner and a place to sleep? From that same Facebook posting, a Western Australian radio show host made contact to interview him for a piece to promote his fundraiser. Many kind people continued to reach out with well wishes, donations of money and food, random acts of kindness, and companionship along the way. As the locals would say, “Good onya, mates!”
So with a world of Down Under stories and memories from the West of Australia, Max has made his way back to the Eastern side of the continent to find work for a while and then return home to the US before the end of 2018 when his one year work/travel visa expires. Never a huge biking enthusiast before this adventure, he is now sad at the thought of leaving his wheels behind in Sydney. My guess is, that the Christmas/Birthday fund, the car floor change, and the stray fiver here and there will be put to good use when he returns. Makes me wonder where he’ll cycle next. Thanks “heaps” Max, for all your “hard yakka” and the armchair traveling you allowed us on your trip! It was a “corker” of a ride, “you little ripper!”
To date, Max has raised just a hair over $4000 of the $5000 he set his sights on. Some donations are not shown on GoFundMe and have been sent directly to his Fremont address (6128 S Maple Island Rd). The Go Fund Me page is still up and he will continue to have it up for donating for another week or so. Then the money will be distributed accordingly. More about the chosen environmental organizations can be found on the following pages.
The Go Fund Me page can be found here:
and his blog here:
Volley Against Violence returns to Hesperia courts
For the 7th year running the Hesperia Volleyballers will be hosting the Volley Against Violence Tournament this Saturday.
We caught up with Panther Coach Monica Grimard to get a little info on this worthy event.
Tell us a little about VAV.
Coach G.-This event was started in 2012 by myself and then Varsity Coach Joan David. We started this because we knew there were many young girls that were in unhealthy relationships and many families that were affected from Domestic Violence situation.
We have continued this campaign each year because of the response from the community, in addition to the continuing need for awareness and education on this topics
What impact has it had?
Coach G.-I feel the education and awareness of early warning signs of unhealthy relationships has been helpful for teens in our local community. Our campaign has spread throughout Newaygo County since the first awareness game in 2012 to Fremont, Grant, White Cloud, and Newaygo. Each of these teams have been given information about dating rights, early signs of unhealthy relationships, and how to talk to a friend facing these issues.
Beginning last year, we moved the event from a weekday event to a Saturday tournament. This way more teams could take part and more time could be given for the bake sales and raffles. Over the past 6 years, this area-wide campaign has spread from a small idea from a couple coaches to over 3 counties, with fundraising events taking place in Fremont, Newaygo, and Hesperia.
What organizations are served?
Coach G.-We have raised over $30, 000 in donations for WISE of Newaygo, Osceola, and Mecosta counties. We have received a match grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation each year since 2013.
(Ed.Note: Women’s Information Service, Inc. (WISE) provides crisis intervention and support services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence) Their website:
What does this event mean to you as a coach? To your team?
Coach G.-The VAV event is closest to my heart and my teams past and present have always been very involved in this campaign. I am a survivor of domestic violence myself and the girls know how strongly I believe in this cause. I believe that no one should go through some of the things that I did. Early warning signs and education are the keys to ending the violence and stopping the silence.
In 2016, a former player of mine, lost her mother to a brutal murder from her fiancee and the girls were shown directly how this can happen to anyone. It was a shock, it was heartbreaking, and since then we have change the name of the tournament to the "Lori Vargas: Volley Against Violence Tournament". Each year at the last home football game before the VAV game we send off purple lanterns in honor of Lori and all the other victims of Domestic and Dating Violence.
The action begins at 9am Saturday at the Hesperia High School gym.
Good cause, good people, and some really good volleyball.
Gerber Memorial gets state grant to pilot extensive quit nicotine program
FREMONT– Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial has received a state grant to strengthen community and healthcare-related programs designed to help people quit tobacco and nicotine. The $52,000 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Tobacco Control Program grant is effective Oct. 1 and allows Gerber Memorial to expand on its existing and acclaimed tobacco cessation efforts.
“Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial is grateful to the State of Michigan for providing resources that can help Newaygo County make even greater strides in our efforts to reduce tobacco and nicotine use in our community,” said Josh Gustafson, Gerber Memorial’s director of community health and wellness. “Thanks to this grant, our tobacco cessation program can expand and further strengthen valuable community partnerships that have been instrumental in our success. By September 2019, Newaygo County will be a leader in Spectrum Health’s efforts to help make Michigan tobacco and nicotine-free.”
Gerber Memorial’s community health team, with technical assistance from the MDHHS Tobacco Control Program staff, will use the grant funds to leverage current and proposed partnerships across the county in an effort to increase the number of adults and youth in the community who quit using commercial tobacco. They will do so by adopting and implementing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Clinical Practice Guideline for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence. For Gerber Memorial, this means tobacco cessation interventions will be embedded into all avenues of routine clinical care. Through these changes, healthcare providers will consistently screen patients for tobacco use and intervene with patients who use tobacco, providing them with the support and resources they need to quit.
Gerber Memorial’s goals for the grant project include implementing a tobacco user screening to identify all tobacco users at every clinical visit, develop a process to ensure that tobacco treatment is fully integrated into care at the hospital and outpatient clinics, and decrease tobacco-related health conditions, diseases and deaths. Currently, 25.5 percent of Newaygo County adults use tobacco and nicotine products; the rate for youth is 8.3 percent. Gerber Memorial is aiming to reduce those rates to 23 percent and 7 percent respectively.
“In addition to the health systems focus, by September 2019 Gerber Memorial aims to increase the number of smoke-free parks in Newaygo County, certify additional staff as Tobacco Treatment Specialists, and offer five monthly tobacco education and cessation sessions throughout Newaygo County, with drop-in sessions included at Insight Pregnancy Services to target low-income pregnant women”, Gustafson said.
“The rural nature of Newaygo County and high rates of poverty create transportation barriers for a lot of people, so these funds will also allow us to bring tobacco cessation services to people where they live,” Gustafson said. “By increasing the availability of information and resources, more people can get access to the things they need to quit the use of tobacco and nicotine. And by offering these services in our clinics, at our hospital and out in the community, we hope to empower more people to begin their journey toward improved health and wellness.”
Gerber Memorial will monitor success through a range of activities, such as community surveys, the number of additional smoke-free policies implemented in Newaygo County, the frequency of health care providers asking about and assisting patients with quitting tobacco use, the proportion of people who’ve successfully quit tobacco with support from a healthcare provider, and the number of referrals to a local Tobacco Treatment Specialist or calls to the MI Tobacco Quit Line.
In one of the coolest gestures of kindness, compassion and generosity we have ever seen emerge from any provider of dentistry the Drs Nelson of Newaygo Family Dental Care announced they will be offering free services to veterans on Friday November 16th beginning at 8am.
From cleaning, exams and x-rays to extractions and fillings veterans will be able to avail themselves of these services without charge because…..well…. because the practice decided it was the right thing to do.
We caught up with Dr. Ross Nelson, the younger partner of this dynamic duo of humanitarian benefactors to pose a few questions.
N3: How did this come about?
RN: "It was something that a team member thought of, proposed it to me, and we instantly decided it was a great idea and something we need to do."
N3 Why are you doing this?
RN-"We know there a lot of veterans in need and it’s a way for us to help them and show our appreciation. Many of my team have loved ones who have served and it’s time for us to serve them."
N3: Who is involved?
RN: "My entire team including my partner and father Dr Dennis Nelson (who is also a veteran), some of our colleagues who substitute with us, our dental supply company Patterson Dental, and a few now-retired NFDC team members.”
N3 Have you made any contact with local veteran groups?
RN: "We are working to promote this event with local VFWs, religious institutions, community centers, community businesses and social media. You may have seen our post on Facebook about this event that had over 500 shares within 2 days."
N3 What else do folks need to know?
RN: “This is our inaugural event to serve Veterans. We hope there is a strong turnout that allows us to serve many of our local veterans so that it has a bright future as an annual event” “My Dad (Dr. Dennis Nelson) in particular is really looking forward to this event, as he served with the Army and knows that many area Vets need our care and is excited to provide it to them in a cost-free manner”
Huge kudos go out to all involved in this project. It is heartening to see professionals such as the Nelsons and their colleagues step up to help those who have served and we are truly fortunate to have them be a part of our community.
I recently read a quote on Instagram about dreams being big enough to scare you. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Training for this marathon has been the scariest step outside my comfort zone I can remember for a really long time. I had a good idea of what I was getting into when I decided to do it...which was why it was so scary. I had so many questions.
Would my body hold up?
Could I make the training schedule work with my already busy schedule?
Would I enjoy it or hate it?
Would quitting cross my mind?
Could I even run more than 15.5 miles (my previous farthest distance) in one go?
Just how nuts am I to want to do this?
The last time I remember feeling trepidation about stepping outside my comfort zone was when Ken asked me to start contributing to Near North Now.
It was at a Newaygo soccer game. I was there taking pictures for yearbook. He came in with his camera and notepad, as you all generally see him. We chatted for a few minutes.
Ken: “You taking pictures?”
Me: “I am!”
Ken: “Want to send those my way and maybe also write something up?”
Me: “I will………(I didn’t say I do WANT to….but how does anyone say no to Ken?)………….”
We started meeting after that once a week. He visited my classroom to mentor some of my yearbook students occasionally. The first few months I remember thinking to myself “do I really want to add this into my already hectic schedule?”
My husband just shook his head at me. Another thing you’re doing?
But as time went on, I started to enjoy the way I was being challenged and mentally stretched. Ken encouraged me to write things that I wasn’t comfortable writing.
Will people really want to read this?
How many errors will I make in my writing?
Why would I open myself up to criticism by the public?
Don’t I have enough to do?
How many times will my pictures be blurry or mediocre or flat out bad?
Those questions started to fade away. I can’t say still to this day I am 100% comfortable putting myself out there in columns like this. It still surprises me when I have people talk to me about my articles and I think how fun it is that people enjoy them.
It’s the stretching and the growing and the changing that have made it all worth it. I am enjoying myself immensely in this venture. It’s still scary. But worth the fear.
Two weeks remain until Marathon Morning. I am in the tapering phase of training now. In checking the schedule, I realized that my slow run this Thursday is only 5 miles. Wait? What? Not 10 or 12? What will I do with all that energy afterwards?
I won’t jinx myself, because sometimes the last two weeks injuries do happen. But I have made it through the hardest of the training. I’m almost there.
I can undoubtedly say that training for this marathon has changed me to my core. I’m a different person than when I started.
Without question, taking the plunge to train for this marathon was the scariest thing I have done in a few years, if not in my adult life. It has been exhausting and completely rejuvenating all at the same time. I am so thankful I stepped off the cliff.
My final Marathon Miles will be in another few weeks once I cross the finish line. My hope is to explain the ways the race, and all the miles of training, have changed me.
Until then, I’ll be tapering. Hydrating. Trying to figure out the seesaw that is mother nature in Michigan right now. Eating. So much eating. And contemplating how thankful I am for having taken the leap into this terrifying journey.
Newaygo Fire Department to an hold open house to educate residents on fire prevention
NEWAYGO– Today’s home fires burn faster than ever. In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Knowing how to use that time wisely takes planning and practice.
The Newaygo Fire Department is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)—the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week™ for more than 90 years—to promote this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere™,” which works to educate the public about basic but essential ways to quickly and safely escape a home fire.
NFPA statistics show that the number of U.S. home fires has been steadily declining over the past few decades. However, the death rate per 1000 home fires that are reported to fire departments was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 1980.
“These numbers show that while we’ve made significant progress in teaching people how to prevent fires from happening, there’s still much more work to do in terms of educating the public about how to protect themselves in the event of one,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “This is particularly critical given the increased speed at which today’s home fires grow and spread.”
Carli also notes that although people feel safest in their home, it is also the place people are at greatest risk to fire, with four out of five U.S. fire deaths occurring at home. That overconfidence contributes to a complacency toward home escape planning and practice.
“Working in the fire service for many years, we know that people often make choices in fire situations that jeopardize their safety or even cost them their lives,” said Jason Wolford, Chief of Newaygo Fire Department. “We need to do a better job of teaching people about the potentially life-saving difference escape planning and practice can make and motivate them to action.”
Chief Wolford says this year’s “Look. Listen. Learn.” campaign highlights three steps people can take to help quickly and safely escape a fire:
“Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go,” said Chief Wolford. “No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.”The Newaygo Fire Department is hosting a Fire Prevention Open House at 177 Cooperative Center Drive in Newaygo on Monday, October 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. in support of Fire Prevention Week. The event will include fire truck tours, car extrication demo, fire hose spray, obstacle course, fire education and free food.
For more information on fire prevention and the open house, visit newaygofire.com.