When Chippewa Watershed Conservancy (CWC) staff first sat down for a meeting with Rachel Blizzard, Director of Marketing and Business Development for McLaren Central Michigan, we had no idea where the conversation would lead. The goal was to share the resources offered by CWC with the hospital and let them know about the public trail systems we manage and how our preserves can provide great health benefits to people in the area. Community health is also a huge priority for McLaren and they loved the idea of sharing information about CWC out through their channels. Before we knew it, the conversation had turned to the CWC 2021 Bundy Hill Vertical Mile Challenge, a program that still needed a sponsor.
The Vertical Mile Challenge is a hiking/fitness challenge that was created by CWC Executive Director Mike LeValley. The goal is to encourage people to get outdoors, take on a difficult task, and improve their fitness through exploring nature. It’s also a way to bring awareness to the beautiful trails offered locally by CWC. To complete the challenge, it takes 31 trips to the top of Bundy Hill, each to be documented with a snap-shot at the top. Gaining 170 vertical feet per trip to the summit of Bundy Hill, these 31 trips equal one vertical mile. Blizzard loved the idea of the Vertical Mile Challenge. With perfectly aligned health and community engagement goals, it was a natural fit, and McLaren Central Michigan signed on as the official sponsor of the challenge. From there, what started as a community sponsorship has grown into a fun and competitive health challenge for the entire team at McLaren Central Michigan.
CEO and President Darrell Lentz was actually the first of the McLaren employees to finish the vertical mile challenge. He found it so enjoyable that he decided to formally challenge the rest of the hospital staff to complete it too. Lentz sent out a memo in the hospital newsletter, prompting staff to lace up their hiking boots and hit the Summit Trail. “Today, I encourage all of you to participate in this challenge. Get outdoors and take advantage of this beautiful preserve” said Lentz in his letter to staff. McLaren staff even stand to win a series of prizes based on challenge completion by individuals and different department-based teams! The buzz has been steadily growing since Lentz issued the challenge. In fact, Blizzard even said on one of her visits to Bundy Hill, three out of the five cars in the parking lot turned out to be McLaren people out doing the challenge. “This is getting big. It is now announced every morning at our Safety Huddle if anyone went out to the ‘hill’ the night before.” said Blizzard. It is safe to say this is one partnership that has definitely been mutually beneficial and we are so grateful for the support from McLaren leaders who have taken this challenge and run (or should I say hiked) with it.
Want to get in on the fun yourself? Learn more about the Bundy Hill Vertical Mile Challenge here. It’s an excellent way to improve physical fitness, decrease stress or anxiety and become familiar with a beautiful natural area right here in our region.