Inaugural MECCA Trails Winterfest

The Gogebic Range Health Foundation is excited to continue working with MECCA trails on their annual winter fundraiser event. This year the event has been renamed the Mecca Winterfest. The event will consist of four events; The traditional Turtle River Pursuit, 5K Claire d’Loon Classic Fun Race, the new Flowage 15K Freestyle and the new Mercer Springs Snowshoe Tour.

The Winterfest is virtual this year in order to host a safe event for participants and volunteers. Participants can register now and decide when and how many times they ski and snowshoe, as long as it’s between Friday, December 18, 2020 and Sunday, March 28, 2021. Participants may choose to race or tour alone or with a group of their family or friends. Racers will keep their own time and upload their best result. Awards will be given to overall winners and all participants will receive Winterfest swag.

The fee for the Turtle River Pursuit and for the Flowage 15K Freestyle is $25. The cost to participate in the Claire d’Loon Classic or the Mercer Springs Snowshoe Tour is $10. Online registration and downloadable forms are available at

The MECCA Winterfest is an annual fundraiser for MECCA Trails in Mercer, WI and will help fund trail improvements and expansion as well as community outreach programs.

The Ironwood Area Chamber of Commerce Board selected the Gogebic Range Health Foundation as the 2018 Organization of the Year. A plaque was presented at the Chamber Awards Banquet on January 22. The Chamber Board felt that the GRHF’s active encouragement and substantial financial support of many activities throughout Ironwood that impact good health and well-being have played a significant role in making our community better and healthier.

The Turtle River Pursuit is a new partnership between the MECCA Ski Club in Mercer, WI, WinMan Trails in Manitowish Waters and GRHF. The goal of the Turtle River Pursuit is to create a premier skiing competition highlighting the MECCA and WinMan trail systems and engaging the community in utilizing and supporting the trails.

This event had a successful first year, raising over $11,000. The Turtle River Pursuit funds are used to support an outreach program that engages volunteers in providing educational programs and activities related to health and wellness. We are looking forward to a continued partnership with the Turtle River Pursuit in the future.

The Aspirus Ironwood Hospital and Clinic has a long standing annual Winter Formal which raises funds to support critical hospital needs. GRHF began a collaboration in 2017 and is honored to continue to work with Aspirus Ironwood to ensure that our health care system can deliver the best care possible to residents in the Gogebic Range. The Winter Formal is a unique and fun event in the Gogebic Range. In 2018 the Winter Formal raised over $9,000 to update and improve the interior of the Aspirus Clinic located in Hurley, WI.

The Bridges and Bluffs 1/2 Marathon and 2 mile run/walk has also become an annual event in the Gogebic Range. This event is family friendly and encourages all ages to get active outside. The event features the Iron Belle trail that traverses through the heart of the Gogebic Range. The event raises funds to maintain the western portion of the Iron Belle trail ensuring safety and longevity of the trail in our communities.

[unitegallery marathon]

The Copper Peak Trails Fest has become an annual event which takes place on the grounds where the iconic Copper Peak Ski jump sits. The trails fest features a mountain bike race, a trail run and a kids mountain bike race on the twisting, winding trials built by the Sisu Dirt Crew, mountain bike club. This club hosts the race to raise money in order to continue building trails, promoting mountain biking for all ages and abilities and advocating for mountain biking in the Gogebic Range as a means to improve health and the economy.

The funds raised have been used to secure a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to develop trails in the Miners Memorial Heritage Park in downtown Ironwood.

Have you checked out the new Curry Neighborhood trail? We are excited about this collaborative project with Michigan State Housing Development Authority and the City of Ironwood Michigan. We believe that health happens where people live and this trail provides access to outdoor recreation for residents.

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic the Gogebic Range Health Foundation board of directors initiated conversations about the impact to our communities, organizations, businesses and residents. Executive Director, Andrea Newby, explained that the organization follows a strategic plan for distributing funding but we knew that we had to respond in a way that made an impact and had the broadest reach to both Iron County and Gogebic county. 

In rural areas like Iron County, WI and Gogebic County, MI the public health departments are the main source for resources and information during a health crisis. Recognizing that the local health departments are the health experts in our communities it made sense for GRHF to help support their efforts. In May of 2020 GRHF initiated a fundraiser and raised over 10k, with generous donations from both community members and the local business community. 

The Health Department will utilize the funds for COVID-19 prevention education and messaging as well as assisting us to support the bringing in of state resources. Specifically in Iron County, funds will, support efforts to assist front line workers and the community through the response to COVID-19, personal protective equipment, technologies for communication in vulnerable populations, assist in outreach with current program modifications-reproductive health, mental health, signage, cleaning supplies for hygiene outreach, and Community wellness initiatives. 

Funding to the WUPHD went toward testing sites in Watersmeet and Ironwood. It also allowed us to follow-up on the 700 testes generated by this testing and do case investigation and contact racing of positive people in those areas.

ICORE is thrilled to announce that we have received a $20,000 grant from the Gogebic Range Health Foundation! Funds will be used for improvements to the Hurley Trailhead and to help purchase the railroad grade between Montreal and Hurley for a future nonmotorized trail. ICORE is very grateful to the Health Foundation for all their work promoting public health in our communities.

Stormy Kromer is truly one of kind. Because of their contribution we have been able to raise $10,000 to support our local health department’s response to COVID 19 in our communities. The Iron County, WI and Western UP Health Departments are working hard to keep our communities safe and healthy.

The funds from Stormy Kromer will also help us to continue to provide funding to organizations and agencies across the Gogebic Range that promote health living and wellness.

Health, fun and community it’s what we love!