Cooper Kukal competing at DII level
Earlier this season we featured a group of gridders from Grant who had made the substantial jump to competing on the collegiate level.
Former Fremont Packer Cooper Kukal will be winding up his second season with the Wayne State Warriors when they visit Lubbers Stadium at Grand Valley State this Saturday beginning at 1pm.
Kukal was on the varsity team at Fremont for three years playing center, guard and even a little bit of quarterback on offense while anchoring in at end on defense. He also spent time on the mound and at first base for the baseball team and hit the hardwoods for 2 years for Coach Pete Zerfas,
Redshirted as a freshman Cooper has been seeing some playing time on special teams as well as some spot work on the senior laden o-line of the Warriors.
WSU is located in Detroit giving Kukal many networking opportunities as he pursues a post collegiate career in sports management.
Volunteers honored for being Bellwether Stars
Fremont– More than 30 people were recognized for giving of their time and talents at Bellwether Harbor Animal Shelter and Training Center on Friday evening (Nov. 2). A total of 2,200 hours were contributed by volunteers in the last 12 months.
“We couldn’t do what we do without the help of the volunteers,” Carmen Froehle, volunteer coordinator said. “We have some amazing volunteers who are here every week and others who help us with our events like the Holiday Open House or Run Forrest Run.”
Phyllis White of Hesperia volunteered 332 hours in the last year and “speaks cat,” Froehle said while recognizing and thanking her for all her help. White can be found playing with cats or giving them love.
Ann Faber of Montague is another cat lover who recently adopted a special needs cat. She has volunteered 180 hours in the last year. Darlene Beadle of Newaygo contributed 168 hours and works with both dogs and cats. She can be found in the lobby snuggling cats one at a time or walking the dogs.
Most volunteers agree that they get more in return than they give.
“The animals are amazing especially when they get adopted out, it makes a piece of my heart feel whole. I really like it,” said Andrea McGraw of Fremont.
“I come here because there are so many wonderful animals. All they need is somebody to learn to trust and show them love and they give love back,” said Mark Carpenter of Grant.
Volunteers must be at least 15 years old and attend an orientation prior to starting. The next orientation is scheduled for Nov. 20. Volunteer applications are available at Bellwether or online at http://www.bellwetherharbor.org/volunteers/volunteer-application/
Baldwin- Family Health Care will join the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) and other state/national rural stakeholders in celebrating National Rural Health Day on Thursday, November 15, 2018.
NOSORH created National Rural Health Day as a way to showcase rural America; increase awareness of rural health-related issues; and promote the efforts of NOSORH, State Offices of Rural Health and others in addressing those issues. National Rural Health Day is an annual day of recognition which occurs on the third Thursday of November and was awarded the 2018 "Outstanding Rural Health Program of the Year" by the National Rural Health Association.
Over 60 million people – nearly one in five Americans – live in rural and frontier communities throughout the United States. “These small towns, farming communities and frontier areas are wonderful places to live and work; they are places where neighbors know each other and work together,” said NOSORH Director Teryl Eisinger. “The hospitals and providers serving these rural communities not only provide quality patient care, but they also help keep good jobs in rural America.”
In central-west Michigan, Family Health Care provides comprehensive primary health care services through its medical, dental, vision and pharmacy programs; and additional programs such as Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, free health insurance enrollment, In-Home Respite Care, and a variety of primary care services in schools. Family Health Care is focused on making health care accessible to everyone in order achieve its vision of 0% health disparities in the communities the organization serves.
“Our employees are dedicated to meeting the needs of every patient that comes through our doors and through outreach into the community,” says Kathy Sather, President & CEO of Family Health Care. “I am truly proud to be part of this dedicated team of individuals working toward the common goal of improving the health of our rural communities.”
State Offices of Rural Health play a key role in addressing those needs. All 50 states maintain a State Office of Rural Health, each of which shares a similar mission: to foster relationships, disseminate information and provide technical assistance that improves access to, and the quality of, health care for its rural citizens. In the past year alone, State Offices of Rural Health collectively provided technical assistance to more than 28,000 rural communities. Family Health Care is a proud member of the Michigan Rural Health Association.
Additional information about National Rural Health Day can be found at PowerofRural.org. To learn more about NOSORH, visit nosorh.org; to learn more about Family Health Care visit familyhealthcare.org.
By Sally Wagoner, RN, CTTS, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial
Thursday, November 15 is not just the beginning of deer hunting season here in Newaygo County. It is also the National “Great American Smoke Out” – a day that inspires people to quit tobacco and nicotine use.
On November 15 you can quit for the day so you can be comfortable in the deer blind without having to light up, vape, or chew. Or you can quit for good so you can focus on smoking your venison and not your lungs!
All you need is the right combination of nicotine replacement products, such as a nicotine patch plus nicotine gum or lozenge. You can buy these over the counter, but many times your health insurance with help pay for them. The nicotine patch gives you a slow dose of nicotine throughout the day which can help lessen your desire to smoke or chew. The gum or lozenge gives you a “quick dose” of nicotine for those pesky urges. Together they can take the place of smoking, chewing or vaping.
There are medications that can help a person quit too. Both are by prescription only which you will need to get from your medical provider. You need to start these medications 1 to 2 weeks before your last day of using tobacco or nicotine so it helps to plan ahead. With one of these medications you can also use the nicotine patch, gum or lozenge to get the most support to deal with urges and withdrawals.
There is also an inhaler that allows you to draw nicotine into your mouth like a cigarette. But this inhaler does not have over 4,000 chemicals and poisons that a burning cigarette has. The inhaler is not an e-cigarette because it does not have a battery and it does not heat up, so it will never blow up in your face. The inhaler can be used with the nicotine patch so you get enough nicotine throughout the day to decrease tobacco urges. This device is by prescription only so you will need to talk with your medical provider. Many insurances pay for the nicotine inhaler as well. Combined with using the nicotine patch, many people have been able to quit for good using this method.
Drop in to get tips and tools on how to quit at the following locations from November 9 – 19:
Hesperia: Hesperia Sport Shop, 65 Alpha Drive; Spectrum Health Family Medicine, 78 N. Division Street.
White Cloud: Family Health Care, 1035 E. Wilcox Avenue.
Fremont: Spectrum Health Family Medicine Clinics at 204 W. Main Street and 230 W. Oak Street.
Newaygo: Parsley’s Sport Shop, 70 State Road; Spectrum Health Family Medicine, 211 Pine Lake Drive.
Grant: Family Health Care, 11 N. Maple Street; Spectrum Health Family Medicine Clinic, 230 S. Maple Street.
If you have tried to quit in the past, or if you did quit and started back up, it is never too late to try again. If your spouse hunts and smokes, chews or vapes you can pick up information at the above businesses for your loved one.
Free tobacco and nicotine quit classes and coaching, as well as a weekly nicotine quit support groups, are available from Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial. For more information contact Sally Wagoner, RN, CTTS, 231.924.7589, or email: email@example.com.
Walk to School Day celebrated at Patricia St. Clair Elementary
FREMONT– A countywide program designed to promote good nutrition habits and physical activity among elementary school students in Newaygo County is off to a strong start. Now in its third year, the Coordinated Approach to Child Health, or CATCH, program is now part of the day at Patricia St. Clair Elementary. The initiative is being spearheaded by Hesperia Elementary School’s wellness team or CATCH committee.
Celebrating National Walk to School day was one of many ideas chosen by Hesperia’s committee to reinforce the importance of physical activity. In order to extend the opportunity to celebrate this day to the entire student body, staff coordinated and communicated campus wide to arrange for each classroom to walk the track or trail for the average distance traveled by walking students, a distance of about a half-mile.
Gerber Memorial’s CATCH program is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model. This model involves health education, the school environment, and family-community involvement working together to launch youth toward healthier lifestyles. CATCH has been proven as one of the most cost effective means of preventing childhood obesity, in an environment that is fun and easy to sustain. An evidence-based, nationally recognized program, CATCH, brings best practices into schools and teaches students from kindergarten to fifth grade about how to live healthier.
CATCH is a collaboration between Gerber Memorial’s health experts, Michigan State University Extension, and the county’s five school districts to incorporate nutrition education and physical activities into the daily curriculum for students in grades K-5. Today, CATCH covers more than 4,000 students in nine buildings and a mini-documentary on the program can be viewed on Tamarac’s website.
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: