The Industrial Glitz and Natural Beauty of Detroit

‘Kia’ by Sarah Larson available at under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at

Attribution CC by sarahlarson

Reigning from my quiet bubble in West Michigan, I grew up knowing the basics of Detroit. Detroit sports were everything, our state’s pride for its auto industry, 8 mile, the energy and excitement bustling in Greek Town and Hockey Town and that “Metro Detroit” described the surrounding cities where the people still called themselves Detroiters. It wasn’t until college when I spent more time in Detroit that I truly understood that it literally is Michigan.

I have traveled to many cities in the U.S. and it has helped me realize that there is something trulyspecial about Detroit. Detroiters don’t take no for an answer.  They help each other get back up no matter how many times they are battered down. They are fun-loving and creative innovators. There are outdoor festivals and concerts, greenways, trails and bike paths, and so many more events and activities that bring people to the city.

In 2011 Chrysler debuted its gritty and emotional “Born of Fire” commercial during the Superbowl. The narration follows Eminem driving through the city and ending with him saying “This is the Motor City and this is what we do.” It won an Emmy that year for Best Commercial and left a lasting impact on Americans nationwide. It’s no secret that Detroit has been through a lot struggles, but Michiganders have tremendous pride and love for Detroit. Detroiters are fighters, a powerful force of wills and full of passionate hearts for reviving their city and each other.  I remember seeing this commercial and thinking “Wow that gave me goose bumps. This is what it means to be from Detroit and this is what it means to be from Michigan.”

AutoShowShuffle_043Last year, the Michigan Fitness Foundation decided that hosting an event in Detroit that celebrates all the city has to offer its visitors was pivotal to our goal of improving Michigan’s health. Thus, the birth of the Auto Show Shuffle emerged in 2012. The Michigan Fitness Foundation is proud to announce that we will be working with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and The Parade Company for the second year to deliver a unique experience of industrial glitz and Detroit’s natural beauty in the Auto Show Shuffle 5K Run/Walk. The event not only celebrates the city’s rich automotive history, but also its outdoor physical activity opportunities. The course will wind participants through Detroit, along the Detroit riverfront, across the Dequindre Cut and will end just in time for the opening of the Public Show.  Registration is now open and Groups of 15 or more will receive one free registration. Participants of all ages and abilities are encouraged to run or walk the event to celebrate Detroit together before the start of the Auto Show. Each participant will receive a commemorative tech-shirt, discount admission to the Auto Show and a special Auto Show Shuffle medal.

There isn’t an event quite like it and we are excited to remind you why Detroit rocks. Detroit has it all. You just have to look for it.

Tom Sleva, Intern

Find out more about the race, the riverfront and the NAIAS at the following links:

2013 Bridge Run Photos!

Congratulations to all of the runners that made it across the Mighty Mac! Again, thanks to all of our sponsors, volunteers, MFF staff and participants for making the 2013 Bridge Run a success! Special thanks to Jim Lemay from the Michigan Department of Transportation for sending us some awesome hi-res shots. Check out the complete collection on our Flickr page. Please feel free to download and share your favorite photos. Also, we hope that all runners will enter the lottery for the 2014 Bridge Run. Please email to request notification when the lottery opens. We hope to see you again next year!

state runners

runners on bridgefinish line

Governor Snyder finishing

Thank you to all of the Bridge Run Sponsors!

thank you graphic

Courtesy of Jon Ashcroft

The Michigan Fitness Foundation would like to recognize and thank all of the 2013 Bridge Run sponsors. Without their support, the event could not happen. If you see a representative at the event, thank them for helping to make the event unforgettable!

The 2013 Bridge Run sponsors are:

Thanks again and see you in two weeks!

A Bridge Run Message from Bobby Crim, Founder of the Crim Fitness Foundation

Runner Photos_taken by Margie Reh

Hello! I’m Bobby Crim of the Crim Fitness Foundation. Congratulations to all of the Bridge runners, fitness ambassadors and wheelers who will be a part of the 10th annual Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Run! I’ve participated in the Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Run for many years and I’m sure this will serve as a memorable experience for you as it has for me.

At 81 years old, I’m healthy, happy and active. I’m physically active every day and it’s made a huge impact on my physical, mental and emotional health. I believe that being committed to a healthy and active lifestyle is the key to living a happy life—and I think everyone should get a chance to experience this. Whether it’s participating in a race or regularly visiting the gym, I hope that individuals who want to become healthier, physically fit and live better can overcome their barriers and accomplish this. With busy work schedules, family obligations and other adult duties that we’ve all become accustomed to, it won’t be easy, but you can do it.

At the Crim Fitness Foundation we aim to help you achieve this. We are committed to helping improve the health of our communities. With the goal of changing health, changing lives and changing communities we want to give individuals a chance to be active through a variety of programs. We offer a variety of fitness programs for adults and youth to get active and fit. Every little that you do, whether it’s running one mile, walking one mile or completing a 5K, contributes a great deal to your overall health. The benefits of living a healthy and physically active life are so great, that words can’t describe them. But you can live the benefits, every day, if you commit yourself to being more active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

I hope that these words resonate with you all. If you’re just starting on your path to physical fitness and health, keep going and don’t give up. The rewards are abundant and frequent. And living a healthy and joyful life is the greatest reward of all time and you can achieve it. For those of you who have overcome the barriers and made the commitment to healthy lifestyle, I challenge you to not only continue your journey and reap the wondrous benefits, but to change someone else’s life. Inspire someone, train someone, take someone out for a run—you can be the encouragement someone needs to get the life they’ve always wanted.

I’m enthused to be surrounded by a group of people like you all who are also dedicated to physical fitness and believe in the importance of a healthy life. The Bridge Run is a wonderful event and it is truly a day that I look forward to every year. I wish you the best of luck in training for this event and in all of your fitness endeavors. See you all bright and early at the bridge!

Bobby Crim

Bridge Run Meet and Greet

When I was a child, I remember a time a classmate sneered at me and said I was “too nice” when I introduced myself. It upset me because I have always been a sensitive person, but I think what tore me up more was how she didn’t understand how foolish she sounded spewing a contradictory statement like that. She was upset with me for being “too nice.” It might bother most people when another person is a bubbling overload of joy, but I don’t think you can ever be too nice to anyone, especially when meeting someone new.

Governor Snyder handshaking a wheeler participantThe Bridge Run is an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to fellow runners.  It is also an opportunity to cheer on a stranger and throw a high-five at the finish line or invite another family to eat with you at the Pasta Dinner. Each runner is participating because of their passion for physical fitness and northern Michigan. Smile at a fellow runner and ask them a question about their running history to strike up a conversation. The event is an untimed, non-competitive race so make a friend to enjoy it with! There’s no denying it will be a fun-filled weekend regardless of how you choose to spend your time in Mackinac, but memories are always more memorable with a combination of new faces and old.

With that being said, a few runners have asked us about ways to get in touch with others from their area to carpool together to Mackinac or run with during the Bridge Run. Since the beginning of the summer we have encouraged you to comment about your running experiences on the blog or ask questions regarding the Bridge Run. We want you to take this a little bit further by providing basic information about yourself to try to meet up with each other at the Bridge Run. We encourage you to connect with participants in the comments section. The following list should help you get started connecting with others:

1. Name

2. City

3. Favorite Governor’s Council endorsed event

4. First time Bridge Run participant?

5. Do you walk, bike, use public transit, carpool, paddle or use green cabs to travel? Describe how you try to reduce your carbon footprint.

6. What is your approximate mile pace?

7. What are you most excited about for the Bridge Run?

8. How did you become a runner?

9. Any other weekend plans while up North?

Don’t forget that if you have any additional questions, comments or concerns please feel free to post them too. The Bridge Run is only two weeks away! Get pumped!

-Tom Sleva, Intern

2013 Fitness Ambassadors Part 4

Today we are introducing the last of the 2013 Fitness Ambassadors. While we recognized sixteen individuals this year, we want to know everyone’s story. Feel free to share any trials or obstacles you have overcame to be able to participate in the Bridge Run. Get excited! It’s less than a month away!

Christine Dage, Kalamazoo County

Christine Dage imageIt’s only been about 3 years since Christine Dage became a runner, and she remembers that day vividly. Overweight her whole life and bullied throughout school for being heavy, she decided to run. She initially exercised regularly because she was tired of being overweight and embarrassed about the way she looked. She recalls on her first day that she could barely last for one minute, it felt like her lungs were going to explode!

But she kept at it and never gave up, despite the voice in her head that told her to stop the madness and rest.

Fast forward to the present: Christine has 4 half marathons and way too many 5k and 10ks to remember under her shoes, losing 83 pounds along the way. She no longer has to take her arthritis medication either, all she needs are her running shoes and a road! She usually will run 6 days a week and log anywhere between 32-40 miles. She realizes she found the person she always wanted to be.

In her day-to-day life she will see a friendly face at the local grocery store remark on her dedication to running outside year-round in whatever Michigan weather throws at her or will receive private messages on her social media accounts on how inspirational she is to others. To Christine, running is “what she does.” It’s something that she never thought she was capable of doing, but she has proven to herself that she can do anything. Her drastic life transformation has inspired her to make a difference in not only her life, but also in others’ by sharing her story.

Cathy Goike, Alpena County

Cathy GoikeCathy Goike is the Council Director for Girls on the Run Sunrise Side and a Girls on the Run Coach for girl’s grades 3-8. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences she has been involved in because of the personal growth she sees in the girls throughout each season. She has coached about 60 girls over the course of five seasons and it still brings tears her eyes when they cross the finish line during their celebratory 5K with big smiles, tears and hugs.  She is constantly being inspired by them when they open up to her and give her their trust and enthusiasm.

Because of the program and Cathy’s mentoring, some of the girls go on to join the track team after each season, carrying with them positive attitudes and determination to break boundaries and personal records. Even at work she plays the role of a mentor. Cathy started a beginner run club for women. Each of the 40-50 year old members happily run at their own skill level, smiling the whole time.

Running has impacted her personally as well. The sport makes her feel like she can do anything. However, she was not a runner until 2007 due to her distaste toward the activity, but she was determined to call herself a runner and she accomplished her goal. Now she runs 3-4 miles two times per week, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for her. Still to this day the first 10 minutes of running is always the hardest, but she encourages runners to push through that mark to let the endorphins kick in.

“[Running] is my life! When you value the importance of health and fitness it is contagious. My kids and family, my job as a health educator at a local health dept. and as a community volunteer working with girls and their families gives me the opportunity to be inspired and also to inspire.”

Linda McGiness, Missaukee County

Linda McGiness Linda is a retired Physical Education teacher. For 20 years she co-directed her town’s 4th of July 5k/10k races.  Last year there were 700 participants. After a serious foot injury 20 years ago, Linda decided to try a winter triathlon which consisted of snow shoeing, cross country skiing and ice skating.  She felt good afterwards, so she decided to pick up running in the summer to cross-train for future cross country ski races. She tries to run every other day, but she has had surgery on both knees so she has to spread out the runs to avoid re-injuring herself.  Conversely, she cross-trains for running events by doing triathlons and participates in Michigan Senior Olympics. Events she has participated in the past include shot put, discus, pole vault, bike sprints, bike races and the triathlon.

A “jack-of-all-trades”, she wouldn’t call herself a runner but a person who likes to do a lot of fitness activities. She also puts on her Ambassador shoes on a regular basis. She teaches cross country skiing at her local middle school during their PE classes.  She enjoys interacting with the students because it is fun to see them outside and learn a new sport that a lot of people don’t traditionally compete in. She has introduced other women and the neighbor kids to cross country skiing and kayaking as well, and in the Senior Olympics she helps the ladies on shot put and discus skills.

While her age at times has been an obstacle for her and made her more prone to injury, she is always picking up the pieces and putting herself back together because of her love of the outdoors and physical activity. She is anxious for the Bridge Run and the remaining triathlon summer events to come!

“My motto: like what you do and do what you like.”

Jim Kokenyesdi, Macomb County

Jim KokenyesdiAfter 25 years in the hospitality industry, Jim began experiencing health issues including high cholesterol and hypertension; he was well on his way to being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.  The side effects suffered from the combination of a medication for cholesterol and grapefruit juice was life-threatening. Jim knew he needed to engage in a healthier lifestyle. Realizing that change was in order, he made radical improvements to his diet and commitment to physical fitness.  Since becoming a member at the Blue Water YMCA with his daughter, he has documented about 1,257 miles using a Nike application. James has participated in several 5k runs in the area, and this year he plans to run the Swamp Foot 4 Mile and a triathlon. He has actively weight trains and has enrolled in Taekwondo and Boot Camp classes at the YMCA.

The results he achieved proved what he believes: exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand. If you are struggling with one, focus on taking baby steps to avoid getting burned out or regressing from your personal goals.   Jim was able to lose over 50 pounds, stop taking medications, experience fewer symptoms of asthma and has achieved an overall improvement with his stamina and mental clarity.  When he is working out with others he always takes the time to give tips and motivation to keep their workout going. By doing so, he tries to set the best example possible and be an inspiration to those around him.

This newfound outlook on his personal health has aided him in his dedication to improving the health of communities across the state. Jim has taught countless nutrition classes for low-income families through the program Cooking Matters, which empowers families with the skills, knowledge and confidence to prepare healthy and affordable meals. He also donates many hours to the Healthy Lifestyle Board for St. Clair County, Gleaners, Mercy Hospital Bariatric and Diabetes departments, and Michigan State Extension service.  He finally “practices what he preaches.”

2013 Fitness Ambassadors Part 3

These four Fitness Ambassadors have dedicated themselves to living healthier lives while motivating those around them to do the same. They aim to inspire individuals to make lifestyle changes that will allow them to live healthy and happy lives.

Patrick Schweri, Muskegon County

Patrick Schweri

After watching his father pass away from congestive heart failure, Patrick Schweri decided that it was time for a change. He needed to change his life, for himself and his family. Patrick started working out and outside from the regular aches, pains and hurdles that many individuals have to overcome when trying to make a lifestyle change, he had to deal with something else—Crohn’s disease.

Patrick had 1/3 of his lower intestine removed due to Crohns’s disease. Crohn’s disease affects his intestines and bowels which makes running and training a hassle because of dietary restrictions. It also causes aches and pains in various muscles and joints. But Patrick made a commitment to overcome all of these obstacles. He began running and hasn’t stopped. Since he made his pledge, he has completed countless 5Ks, a trail marathon and is currently training for a second marathon. At 40, he urges anyone who wants to make a lifestyle change to go for it. “At any age, it doesn’t matter how young or old, you can always take control of your health if you put your mind to it,” said Patrick.  It’s never too late to change your life and improve your health and lifestyle. I ran my first marathon at 39 years old.”

Patrick can now say that running is lifestyle for him and he’s made the changes he wanted to make for himself and those around him. He believes that anyone willing can make the changes to live a healthier life. He is glad that he was able to set a healthy example for his children who often run 5k’s with him and his wife who started running this past year and credits him as her largest influence.

“You don’t have to be the best or the fastest,” said Patrick. “You just need to get out there.  Finishing is the goal, but you can’t finish if you never start.”

Shawn Wrathell, Ingham County

Shawn Wrathell

In June 2011, Shawn Wrathell of Ingham County made the decision to change his life for the better. Weighing in at over 300 pounds, Shawn knew that his weight was unhealthy and would eventually cause lifelong problems. He started off running short distances and by September of 2011 completed his first 5K.

Down 85 pounds, Shawn believes that running has changed his life for the better. He admits that overcoming the tough physical and mental challenges was not easy, but worth it. “It was a tough mental game to keep going and to stay active when I was overweight,” said Shawn. “But eventually the weight started to fall off and activity became much easier.  I am now so much happier and healthier than ever before and love every minute I can spend being active and outside.”

Shawn has participated in many 5k and 10k races, ran the Lansing Half Marathon this past April, and recently completed a Warrior Dash. Serving as an inspiration to friends, family and co-workers, his commitment spans beyond himself. He currently works for the Human Resources Department at MSU Federal Credit Union, where he facilitates the employee wellness program, CU Healthy. Through his role he encourages a culture of wellness and motivates individuals to make a commitment to their own health by building healthy habits into their daily routine. After obtaining his weight loss goal, Shawn is still committed to being active. He encourages anyone that wants to lose weight, become healthier or just live a more physically fit life to overcome the mental and physical challenge and just do it.

“It may be challenging at first, but you can do it,” said Shawn. “Just get out there, start moving, and stay with it. You’ll get there if you put your mind to it.”

Katrina Smith, Oakland County

Katrina Smith

As a member of the Michigan Air National Guard, Katrina Smith is no stranger to hard work as it is a part of her daily work, but in 2007 she decided to take on another challenge—weight loss. Katrina wanted to lose weight and she knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she was prepared to work hard and accomplish her goal no matter how challenging it turned out to be, and she did. Katrina chose running as her primary exercise in her weight loss journey and it changed her life.

Katrina lost the weight and gained a healthier, happier life. Running has become her outlet to relieve stress and gain clarity. Now, as a personal trainer, Katrina helps others in their weight loss journey by introducing them to running on a variety of platforms from long distance to interval training.

“Running is a great way to challenge your body,” said Katrina. “It is important to keep active but even more important to have variety in your workout, so that it doesn’t get boring.”

Katrina is currently training for a marathon and with her busy schedule as a member of the Michigan Air National Guard, physical education teacher, and personal trainer she advises anyone who thinks they’re ‘too busy’ to think again.

“I have overcome the giant barrier of being busy and tired in order to become active,” said Katrina. “I had graduate studies, flight training and work but I still found time exercise. It wasn’t easy and it won’t be easy but it will be worth it.”

Joseph Pyszora, Ogemaw County 

Joseph Psyzora

As a dedicated father of two, Joseph Pyszora wanted to change his life for his children. The saying, ‘lead by example’, rings true for Joseph as he made a decision to lose weight and change his life to show his children the importance of setting and accomplishing goals.

“I wanted to teach my kids how important it is to set goals, stick to them, and accomplish them,” said Joseph.

His goal was to lose weight and he accomplished that by becoming active and running daily. Since his weight loss, Joseph has completed multiple 5K races and a half marathon. Running has given him more energy and the boost he needs to keep up with his two sons. Keeping up with two toddlers is hard work, but even harder when they’ve become avid runners too! His eldest son, age 9, has been completing 5K races since age 7 and aspires to “be a runner just like daddy”. His wife and youngest son, age 3, were inspired by Joseph’s dedication and started walking in 5K races.

Joseph advises all runners and aspiring runners to do one thing, keep running!

“If its one thing that I’ve learned from running is to just keep going,” said Joseph. “Don’t give up. My children run races now and they don’t always win, but I teach them that finishing, not winning, is its own reward. ”