Throughout the county, mayors and city officials participated in Get Fit Itasca’s “Bike with the Mayor” event Friday, May 17. Participating communities included Bigfork, Calumet, Coleraine, Deer River, Keewatin and Grand Rapids. The event was held to celebrate National Bike/Walk to work day, National Bike/Walk Week and Bike Month.
Each community had their own biking event with a total of around 85 people participating. Kids were able to ride with the mayors of Bigfork, Deer River and Keewatin before and after school; the mayors of Calumet and Coleraine made their way to the Mesabi Trail; and Grand Rapids city council members rode along trails near the Grand Rapids YMCA.
According to a press release from Get Fit Itasca, leaders of each of these bike rides included, “Bryan Boone, Bill King, Dan Mandich, Steven Geving, John Tuorila, and city council members Tasha Connelly and Michelle Toven.”
“I was glad to participate because Get Fit Itasca is a great organization that encourages a healthy lifestyle in our community,” Toven said. “Our citizens being healthy and active helps our community be healthier and more active.”
Connelly noted that although her family enjoys cycling together quite often, they realized that they have not utilized all of the trails in Grand Rapids.
“The City of Grand Rapids has over 200 acres of parks and open space lands, and nearly 50 miles of city trails,” Connelly said. “We are a community that values recreational and healthy living opportunities as well as different means of assessable movement. I think it’s important to be involved and visible in events that support our community values and principles.”
Connelly also shared more information about the Grand Rapids Community Bike Share Program.
“The City of Grand Rapids partnered with Get Fit Itasca and the Grand Rapids Rotary to provide the Grand Rapids Community Bike Share Program located at various sites around our city,” Connelly said. “Our bike share program is free public transportation that allows both our residents and visitors to access our bikes for travel, recreation, or socially. It is a great and fun way to add physical activity into your day.”
Organizer of the event, Anna Johnson, with Get Fit Itasca, commented that she thought the event was a success.
“This is my first year organizing an event like this, and to have six mayors in the county say ‘yes, I want to be a part of this,’ and involve the schools and community is amazing,” Johnson said. “I only had about a week to advertise it on social media and things for the communities, so I’m glad the schools and mayors were able to promote it through their channels as well. I have a better idea for next year now, and I’m hopeful we will include more city mayors and other leadership in the communities.”
Despite having a slightly chilly day for the bike ride, Johnson saw the time of the event as crucial to promoting healthy activities such as riding a bike.
“I feel it is a great way to start off summer as well. May is usually the first warm month, so a biking event may spark someone to think, ‘I can bike to work or school now,’ after being in the habit of driving through the winter,” Johnson said.
Starting June 1, Get Fit Itasca will begin a physical activity challenge that will run for four weeks. Participants are challenged to get 150 minutes of physical activity every week. If interested, pick up a postcard from any one of the mayors listen above, the Grand Rapids Library, the YMCA or www.getfititasca.org. For more information, contact Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.