The former CEO of the Howell Nature Center in Livingston County is hiking hundreds of miles to raise money for a special cause.
Dick Grant moved to Northern Michigan to retire. Now, he’s spending his retirement hiking and encouraging children to get outside in nature.
He’s also raising money for the Alexandria Bennett Foundation. Grant has served on the foundation since 2009.
It’s dedicated to 9-year-old Alexandria Bennett of Milford, who passed away in 2006 after losing a battle to an infection.
“It’s a wonderful foundation that’s based on Alexandria Bennett who was in love with nature,” he said. “She would go out and collect frogs and play in the mud… and she was just in love with nature.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dick Grant and his wife Sally were brainstorming ways to keep active while also staying safe.
“In January, we were thinking, ‘What can we do, not only to stay safe, but also to raise awareness for nature?’ So we decided, ‘Hey, hiking is a safe thing to do.’”
Alexandria died days before Christmas and just weeks before her 10th birthday. Dick heard about the Foundation when working for the Nature Center.
“I’ve been able to get to know the family over the years. It’s a wonderful family,” Grant said. “Unfortunately, she was their only child and you can just of the horror of going through that.”
Now, he’s looking to raise $10,000 for the Foundation with a goal of hiking 1,000 miles. Right now, he is just over 800 miles, splitting his time hiking in Michigan and Florida during the winter months.
“I was a hiking maniac in Florida,” he said. “We were averaging, or I was averaging about 145, 130 miles a month.”
The biggest goal for Dick and the Foundation is to raise awareness and encourage children to get outside and learn more about nature.
“As the CEO of the Howell Nature Center for 40 years, I had a front row seat to see what nature does for not only adults, but also for children,” he said. “I’ve seen lives get changed every week of connecting kids with nature.”