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Bridging community to nature: Why we partner with Ottawa County Parks Foundation

Since Michigan only gets two months of summer every year, we at Soldadera take our time in nature very seriously, which is why we're proud to once again partner with the Ottawa County Parks Foundation to further its mission of 'bridging community to nature' with this year's trail run.

Now in its second year, the Grand Explorer's Trail Race was originally conceived for the Ottawa County Parks Foundation to reach more people in the county who might not be aware of the foundation's work.

That work includes funding projects like the Grand River Greenway and the Idema Explorers Trail that connects Grand Rapids to Grand Haven.

This year's race will feature a newly completed segment of the Idema trail that connects Grand River and Grand Ravines county parks.

Ottawa County Parks Foundation President Anita Yoder said the race is a great opportunity for the foundation to connect residents with small, socially minded  businesses like Soldadera Coffee.

"The foundation's mission is 'bridging community to nature,' and so it quite literally is doing that, I think, with this race," she said.

As a gold level sponsor, Soldadera has donated 11 cases of our energizing Mexican cold brew coffee for racers to enjoy.

"We are excited to participate again this year, as our love of running is core to Soldadera," said Soldadera co-founder Mario Rodriguez. "We want to highlight why this fundraising event for the Ottawa County Parks Foundation, which supports the work and vision of Ottawa County Parks and Recreation, is so important."

Soldadera joins a list of top tier sponsors that has more than doubled over the previous year. Other sponsors include Gazelle Sports, Trinity Health, Planet Fitness and REI Co-op.

While big-name sponsors are a plus, Yoder said highlighting local, community-based organizations is important to the parks foundation's focus on diversity, accessibility and inclusion.

"I think what people enjoy is learning about businesses like [Soldadera] that are out in the community," she said.

The race is also projected to draw over 300 participants this year compared to about 270 last year.

Proceeds from this year's trail race will go into a general fund to support Ottawa County Park's Foundation.

The Ottawa County Parks Foundation was formed in 2016 as an independent 501(c)(3) that helps fund major parks projects that wouldn't otherwise be possible, like the Grand River Greenway and Idema Explorer's Trail

The foundation also has helped fund the observatory at Hemlock Crossing Park and the yet-to-be-complete Idema Explorers Camp at Ottawa Sands Park, where construction is underway for five yurts, three treehouses and 10 tent pads.

"I know a lot of people are very excited about that piece," Yoder said of the campgrounds.

Besides providing recreational opportunities, the foundation also funds land restoration and preservation for natural resources and biodiversity.

Follow this link to register for the race. Hope to see you there!

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