Nine community organizations get Brooksie Way Minigrants and Race Board announced as 2013 race season kicks off

A summer camp for blind or visually impaired teens, a senior citizens walking program and a race in boats that look like dragons are among the programs that received funding today from the Brooksie Way Minigrant program.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson also announced during the kickoff for the 2013 HealthPlus Brooksie Way that running icons Bill Rodgers and Greg Meyer had been appointed to the newly formed race Board of Directors and that HealthPlus had signed a multi-year agreement to become the title sponsor for what is now known as the HealthPlus Brooksie Way.

“We’re thrilled HealthPlus has continued this important partnership, which helps support the Brooksie Way Minigrant program,” Patterson said. “These minigrants have invested more than $100,000 into our communities, supporting projects that continue to impact the quality of life we all seek. My son would be gratified to see the positive impact these minigrants are having on the health and fitness of our residents.”

brooksieway_foundation_logo_150The Brooksie Way, which includes a half marathon, 10k and 5k races, is named in memory of Brooks Stuart Patterson, the son of the county executive, who died after an accident in 2007. The 10k race is new this year. The races can be run or walked and are set for Sept. 29 on the Meadow Brook Music Festival at Oakland University.

HealthPlus President and CEO Bruce Hill greeted representatives of the organizations as they were handed their checks. Support from HealthPlus and other sponsors help fund the minigrant program. The nine mini grants totaled $9,442.

“HealthPlus is pleased to serve as the first title sponsor of The Brooksie Way, which funds the Brooksie Way minigrant program,” Hill said. “This is important because The Brooksie Way sustains organizations that create opportunities for communities to engage in wellness activities. Active people are generally healthier and therefore have lower insurance costs. It’s a winning formula for residents, communities, businesses and government.”

Organizations that received the minigrants are:

  • Freedom Work Opportunities, Highland Township: The award will fund “Sit and Fit Exercise Program,” an initiative of Freedom Work Opportunities. The program is designed to promote exercise and muscle strengthening to those with physical and developmental disabilities.
  • Blessings in a Backpack, Waterford: The Waterford subsidiary of Blessings in a Backpack operates at Sandburg Elementary, providing food to take home on the weekends to over 120 low income students who qualify for reduced or free lunches.
  • Crossroads for Youth, Oxford: The award will fund “Climbing Higher,” a pilot program developed by the Adventure Center of Crossroads for Youth. It combines the adventure elements of a climbing wall and high ropes course workshop with stress management techniques for teens.
  • Addison Township Public Library, Leonard: The library held “Born to Read 5K Run/Walk and Speed Reader’s 1 Mile Fun Run” on May 18. The funding was used for race timing and EMS support.
  • Count Your Steps, Inc., Pontiac: Count Your Steps encourages third and fourth grade students to increase their physical activity and make fitness a part of their everyday life. The award will support promotion in participating schools.
  • Orion Art Center, Lake Orion: Celebrating its fifth year, Dragons on the Lake, will be held Aug. 23-25. The grant will fund two dragon boat teams, one of teens and the other for members of Lake Orion Connects/Supporting our Students.
  • Leader Dogs for the Blind, Rochester Hills:  The Summer Experience Camp provides a unique camp opportunity for older youth that focuses on learning independent travel skills, character LeaderDogsdevelopment, living full and active lives and connecting with peers, who are also blind or visually impaired.  The award will fund brightly colored uniforms, local travel and physical activities of the camp.
  • City of Wixom: The Wixom Senior Center presents “Wixom Seniors Walk America” May through October. The grant will purchase pedometers.
  • St. Paul Community Lutheran Church, Pontiac: St. Paul’s is beginning a basketball camp, open to the community surrounding the church, for middle and high school girls and boys. The award will be used to buy basketballs, portable equipment and uniforms.

Patterson created the minigrant program to use private race proceeds to promote healthy, active lifestyles for Oakland County residents. The minigrants are awarded three times a year. Grant guidelines and applications are available at

During the kickoff, Patterson introduced the members of the newly formed Brooksie Way Board of Directors. He noted that both Rodgers and Meyer have participated in Brooksie Way races in the past. Rodgers, who lives in Boston, was unable to attend the event Friday.

Rodgers is a former Olympic marathon runner, a four-time winner of the Boston and New York City marathons and a member the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.

Meyer, who lives near Grand Rapids, is the last American male to win the Boston Marathon. During his running career, Meyer set 10 American road race records and two world records.

 “This really puts us on the map in the running world,” Patterson said. “These are two internationally-renowned runners whose experience and insight will be invaluable as we move the race forward. I appreciate the commitment Bill and Greg, along with the other board members, have made to the Brooksie Way.”

Other members include Patterson, race chairs Greg Guidice and Paul Coughlin, John C. Gault, a nationally known race timer, and George Miller, director of the county’s health and human services department, and several members of Patterson’s family.

Patterson also announced The Brooksie Way has been endorsed by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness/Michigan Fitness Foundation as an officially sanctioned race. The designation allows Brooksie participants to apply for inclusion in the Mackinac Bridge Labor Day weekend race. The Detroit Medical Center was introduced as the finish line sponsor and Kroger as the half marathon sponsor.

Novice runners and walkers who want to participate in Brooksie Way races can register for the 16-week training program at Training locations are in Rochester, Grand Blanc, Milford and Royal Oak.



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