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Iron Belles- Empowering young women

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I am an educator and am raising money to support an initiative I created called, "Iron Belles" to get young women outside! I will do this by hiking and biking the entire Iron Belle Trail in Michigan. 

How it all started.....
My brother Josh told me about the Iron Belle Trail, which is a brand new trail in Michigan that travels across the entire state and I decided that I wanted to hike and bike the entire thing. However, because I am an adventure education teacher and very passionate about teenagers and inspiring women to get outside, I thought I would combine my passion for the outdoors with my passion for inspiring young women with an initiative I am calling "Iron Belles."

About Iron Belles...
My sister and I came up with the name "Iron Belles" because we thought that it was the perfect ode to the Iron Belle Trail, where this incredible journey and initiative will begin. I also love the combination of the words "Iron" and "Belle" because Iron to me represents strength and the word "Belle" comes from the French from the feminine of "beau" beautiful or as another definition puts it, "A girl or woman whose charm and beauty make her a favorite." I think that this makes "Iron Belles" the perfect combination of strength and beauty, which is what I see in each and every woman.

My 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, so that I am encouraging young women to get outside and potentially discover a passion for the outdoors and discover their own strength and capabilities.

About the trail...
The Iron Belle trail consists of 774 miles of biking from Belle Isle Park in Detroit to Ironwood, MI and then 1,259 miles of hiking along the North Country National Scenic Trail as a part of the Iron Belle trail from Ironwood, MI back to Belle Isle Park. I will be biking the first portion starting on May 30th, 2016 and completing the biking portion on June 9th, 2016. From Ironwood, I will be resupplied with my hiking equipment and food and will drop off my bike. From there, I will begin the backpacking portion on June 11th with the goal of completing it by August 7th, 2016.

How you can help...
In order to make this trip happen and help to start the "Iron Belles" initiative, I will need some equipment and funds for the trip.  The equipment for hiking and biking including a bike, backpack, tent, panniers, and much more as well as camping fees, plane tickets, food along the trail, hotel costs on the biking portion for areas where there is no camping, and other items that I will need is extremely costly and I will need to raise $8000 in order to make this possible. 

If you are able to donate money to this cause, please know that anything will help! Thank you so much for hearing my story and happy trails!


  • Deb Longley
    • $20 
    • 9 yrs


Beth Gleason
Denver, CO

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