I was recently introduced to the musical group, “Nahko and Medicine for the People” by my friend Rachael on a trip to Steamboat. And in typical Gleason fashion, I have been incessantly listening to his music for the past 8 days. I have a lot to be grateful for and the song that has been on my mind is one called, “So Thankful.”
I have always made an effort to practice gratitude. Some days this practice is really difficult and some days it’s very easy. Today is one of those easy days. I feel so grateful for the recent events that have unfolded in connection with this journey.
My last post was about some frustrations I was having with the process of finding sponsorships and the reality of the difficulties of that process. I realized that I needed to go back to the drawing board. I wanted this journey to be meaningful in some way, but I hadn’t yet found the way that I felt would connect with sponsors and others. So I spent some time brainstorming what is important to me and what are the things that I am most passionate about and then how can I connect those with this journey. Through much talk with family and incredibly supportive friends, I have decided to start an initiative called, “Iron Belles” with the goal of getting young women outside connecting with wilderness in order to discover their own strength and capabilities.
My sister and I came up with the name “Iron Belles” because the Iron Belle trail in Michigan is where this initiative will all begin. I also really love the combination of those two words because “Iron” represents strength and “Belle” comes from the French for beau or beautiful. To me, it is the perfect combination of strength and beauty, which are two qualities that all women possess and qualities that I find in myself, but sometimes need a little encouraging and reminding that strength is beauty and beauty is strength.
The goals for Iron Belles and for this trip are to do the following:
– Get at least 3 young women and a Physical Educator from each city or county that the trail passes through to join me for a portion of the hike
– Find the 25 best things to do along the Iron Belle trail
– Find 100 things to do along the trail in honor of the Michigan DNR’s Centennial
– Advertise the brand new trail for the Michigan DNR
– Inspire women young and old to get outside
Eventually, the goal is to take “Iron Belles” to every state in the US by finding a long distance trail in each state that young women can join me on, to encourage young women to get outside and potentially discover a passion for the outdoors and discover their own strength and capabilities.
I feel so grateful for the help along the way in creating this vision. I started a “GoFundMe” page in order to help raise the $8000 it will take to make this trip and initiative happen and have already received some very generous donations from friends who support the vision. This week, I also got my first “sponsorship” through the help of a co-worker, Lisa. Lisa talked to her sister, Linda, who works for Trango and that same day, Linda emailed me to tell me that they would support me with clothing for the journey. So Stonewear Designs, an off-shoot of Trango who creates amazing women’s clothing will be providing me with some clothing for the trip!
If you are interested in helping support the “Iron Belles” initiative, please consider spreading the word and supporting in one of a few ways:
1. Think positive thoughts for me and send well wishes 🙂
2. Follow me on instagram @bethanyglee, twitter @beth_gleason, and this blog
3. Support me monetarily through my go fund me page at the following link:
4. Spread the word to family, friends, co-workers, etc!
So in the adapted words of Nahko, Got to give, got to give, got to give, I’ve got to give you all a little kiss yea! Thank you so much for your continued support of this dream and happy trails!