Category: Sponsor Content

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry Took Guests Around the World and Beyond in 2018

It’s only eight miles to Mackinac Island from the Shepler’s ferry dock in Mackinaw City, and even fewer than that for passengers departing from the other side of the Mackinac Bridge in St. Ignace. Yet, when you shuttle Mackinac visitors back and forth throughout the spring, summer and fall, the mileage starts to add up.

During the 2018 season from late April through October, Shepler’s made thousands of round trips from the mainland to Mackinac. The total distance for all those ferry trips? More than 102,000 miles.

That’s the equivalent of going around the world four times! Or about half the distance that Apollo 11 traveled to reach the moon nearly 50 years ago!

Were you along for the ride in 2018?

Even though it’s been less than a month since the 2018 Mackinac ferry season ended, it’s already time for the holidays. The days are counting down to Christmas, and the clock is ticking down to Shepler’s 2019 opening day, too. There are less than 150 days until the new Mackinac ferry season starts April 21!

You can get a jump on 2019 travel to Mackinac by taking advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials available this week as Shepler’s gives thanks for a great 2018. Use the promo code blackfriday18 to get $6 off regular adult round-trip tickets purchased here on Friday, Nov. 23, or Saturday, Nov. 24. Tickets are good anytime during the 2019 season, from April 21 through Oct. 31.

Then, on Cyber Monday, you can get bonus bucks on gift cards. For every $50 gift card purchased here on Monday, Nov. 26, you get an extra $10 for free. The gift cards can be used for Shepler’s rides anytime over the next five years.

Here are some more fun facts about Shepler’s 73rd season ferrying visitors back and forth to Mackinac:

  • Shepler’s ferries made 7,290 trips to the island — nearly 40 trips per day over the course of the season.
  • Shepler’s ferries traveled 102,060 miles, which is enough to circle each of the five Great Lakes 10 times, cross the Pacific Ocean 20 times or span the Atlantic Ocean nearly 30 times.
  • In addition to ferry rides to Mackinac, Shepler’s took 100,000 guests under the Mackinac Bridge on cruises around the Straits of Mackinac to see lighthouses, the sparkling northern Michigan night sky or Fourth of July fireworks.

Looking ahead to 2019, Shepler’s 74th season will open on Sunday, April 21, with a 7:30 a.m. Easter morning shuttle. In the meantime, remodeling of the Shepler’s dock on Mackinac continues and several other improvements are in the works including parking upgrades in St. Ignace and Mackinaw City.
You can stay updated on the Shepler’s Facebook page and start saving on a 2019 trip to Mackinac with these great Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health Offers Breakthrough Treatment for Emphysema

In a breakthrough for patients suffering from severe emphysema, Metro Health — University of Michigan Health has become one of the first West Michigan health systems to offer a new, minimally-invasive procedure that offers hope for better breathing, without the risk of major surgery.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 3.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with emphysema, a form of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The condition makes it difficult to breathe as air sacs in the lungs are damaged.

The most common cause of COPD is smoking, but other risk factors include secondhand smoke and environmental conditions. The American Lung Association estimates that in Kent County alone 40,557 adults suffer from COPD.

In Kent County alone more than 40,000 adults suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Patients with severe emphysema can feel as though they are fighting to survive day to day instead of living their lives to the fullest. They may struggle to move around the house or complete daily tasks, and leaving the home can be tiresome and frightening. Some patients are connected to supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day.

Many patients can be treated with medication, pulmonary rehabilitation or supplemental oxygen, but if those treatments don’t work, major surgery is their only option. During surgery, damaged lung tissue may be removed or, in the most severe cases, a lung transplant is needed.

In June, the Zephyr™ Valve became the first minimally invasive device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating patients with severe emphysema.

The Zephyr™ Valve procedure is a 30 to 60 minute process where the doctor uses a bronchoscope, a tiny tube with a camera, to place small valves in airways. This allows parts of the patient’s lungs to expand, lifting pressure off the diaphragm and helping to ease breathing.

“Metro Health — University of Michigan Health is proud to pioneer this groundbreaking treatment for qualifying patients in West Michigan,” said Dr. Peter Hahn, Metro Health President and CEO. “As a pulmonologist,

Dr. Mounir Ghali

I have seen firsthand the debilitating effects on patients who have difficulty breathing. The new procedure offers hope of improved lung function and a better quality of life.”

In its Summary of Safety and Effectiveness Data report, the FDA wrote: “This device offers a significant clinically meaningful advantage over the current standard of care and therefore its ability is also in the best interest of patients.”

Metro Health has identified several patients who are candidates for the Zephyr™ Valve procedure. The first procedure will be performed by Dr. Mounir Ghali, interventional pulmonologist.

Metro Health’s highly-qualified team of pulmonologists have trained in some of the most prestigious institutions across the country.

“I believe we have the best clinical pulmonology program, perhaps in the state,” Dr. Hahn said. “We are providing patients with an option for treating the most advanced lung conditions.”

If you are suffering from lung or respiratory conditions or want to learn more about the Zephyr™ Valve procedure, call Metro Health’s pulmonary specialists at 616-252-5220 or visit

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Ready to Spend a Day in Port Huron?

Port Huron’s historic downtown and the beautiful views of Lighthouse Park set the stage for another look at Michigan’s unique retailers with MLive’s Nick Behling.

Nick explores the huge inventory of instruments at Hanson Pro Music with the shop’s owner, Eric Hanson, who explains that he enjoys helping budding musicians find just the right piece of equipment. He then settles in and gets comfortable at the Raven Cafe while enjoying a great sandwich and a cup of coffee.

Follow along with the Michigan Retailers Association and Nick to discover what makes Michigan unique, while remembering to buy nearby as local stores and restaurants employ more than 800,000 people across our state.

Stay with us for more Michigan’s Best adventures as Nick and the team uncover can’t-miss locations around the Mitten.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Bike Safety: Why Road Signs Apply to You Too, Cyclists

Driving Change is now entering its third summer of improving road relationships between motorists and bicyclists in Grand Rapids and aiming to keep everyone safe on our roads.

Road Relationship Counselor Dr. Susan Wheeler has taken some of the most popular questions about our ordinances and safety tips and provided practical advice to help you remember how you can do your part to keep everyone safe on our roads.

In this episode, Dr. Wheeler shares one motorist’s question, demonstrating how important it is for bicyclists to also follow the same rules of the road as motorists, including stopping at all stop signs and red lights. Not only is it the law, but it also helps motorists know what to expect from quick-moving bicycles so they can keep their distance.

Together, we can work to improve our road relationships and drive change in Grand Rapids.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

After the Holiday’s These People Will Still Need Your Help

It’s a conversation with Roy that sticks in Lisa Church’s mind, that compels her to keep helping senior citizens even now that he is gone.

Church was visiting Roy, delivering a Senior Grocery Box from the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to his home, when the 40-year Coast Guard veteran living with diabetes explained how it was too expensive for him to buy hand sanitizer needed to clean his skin before checking his blood sugar levels.

“I went to deliver the grocery box and we were sitting there talking and he was saying how astounded he was when he went to the pharmacy for a bottle of hand sanitizer and found that it cost almost $5,” said Church, owner of Alternative Elderly Care, a home health care service that works with the Food Bank to distribute the grocery boxes. “He couldn’t believe it.

“I probably have $5 in change sitting in my purse. Five dollars doesn’t mean a lot to me, but it means everything to these seniors.”

Roy has passed away, but his plight lives on in the challenging financial situations faced by many older people throughout Michigan. Between housing rent, utility bills and medications, it’s difficult for many seniors to find money for one of the most basic human needs: food.

The 50-pound Senior Grocery Box contains non-perishable staples of a healthy diet including canned goods, rice, cereal and seasonal fresh produce along with household hygiene items.

That’s where the Senior Grocery Box comes in. For less than $5 per week — a total of $200 per year — you can provide a 50-pound box of food each month to an elderly neighbor in need in your community. For less than $5 per week, you can make a lasting, positive impact on someone who lives right in your community.

“Every little bit helps,” Church said. “Most of the individuals in our program have an income level of under $1,000 a month, and that’s expected to be able to pay their bills (including rent).

“We’ve delivered to homes that don’t have heat, don’t have appliances. These individuals don’t have access to a vehicle, they don’t have the option to go to soup kitchens or food pantries, and they definitely can’t afford the grocery delivery services that are popping up. A lot of them don’t have families to step up and help, either. For some of them, the box is all they have.”

The Food Bank’s Senior Grocery Box program involves hundreds of local agencies such as Alternative Elderly Care that deliver the food to seniors each month. The 50-pound boxes contain many non-perishable staples of a healthy diet including cereals, canned goods, beans, rice, soup, dehydrated milk, pancake mix, snacks, cookies and seasonal fresh produce as well as household hygiene items such as toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, soap and toothpaste.

The Food Bank each year serves more than 331,000 people across a 22-county area from Flint north to the Mackinac Bridge through a variety of programs. In 2017, those programs distributed 28 million pounds of food, including 11 million pounds of fresh produce.

The need for Food Bank services is great throughout Michigan, where 1.4 million people live in poverty including 9 percent of residents age 65 and up, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The poverty rate is even higher in the areas served by the Food Bank: Bay County, 15 percent; Saginaw County, 17 percent; Genesee County, 18 percent; Flint, 39 percent.

The need tends to increase in the winter, when utility costs typically rise. Natural gas bills are expected to increase by 5 percent this heating season due to higher prices, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s about $30 more, on average, than last winter.

For $200 per year — less than $5 per week — a grocery box from the Food Bank can ease financial stress for seniors and give them the food they need without requiring them to choose between medicine, heat or lights. Please donate now.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Brownfield Flip for Grand Rapids Downtown Market

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality provided financial incentives and technical assistance to help the City of Grand Rapids clean up and safely reuse a contaminated property that had been populated with blighted manufacturing buildings and warehouses. The area is now home to the city’s Downtown Market, a collection of food vendors, restaurants, demonstration kitchens and a greenhouse in an inviting, environmentally friendly building.

Check Out Our Latest Brownfield Videos,

More information on other Brownfield Flip projects is available at,,4561,7-135-3311_29262—,00.html.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Michigan Concerts Launch Brazilian Musicians First U.S. Tour

From their Rio De Janeiro music studio, Augusto Ordine and Maíra Martins know they can expect two things from Michigan crowds when they kick off their first North American tour in January.

“Cold weather and warm audiences,” Ordine says with a laugh.

The pair, the principal singers in Ordinarius, a seven-member vocal and percussion group, will battle the former and encourage the latter with a unique, yet traditional Brazilian sound that blends South American a cappella harmonies with rich percussion and an electric stage presence.

Ordinarius launches its tour in Michigan as the second stop on the expedition comes to the Midland Center for the Arts on January 9. The performance is two days after a stop in Ann Arbor and before the group heads off for eight other shows in Minnesota, Iowa and California.

Martins said the group has gained some U.S. exposure through YouTube videos and social media, including a cover of the Backstreet Boys “As Long As You Love Me,” which was noticed by the boy band and promoted on their channels.

“People started to look for us,” Ordine said.

And while that discovery propelled their fanbase to a worldwide stage, the artists say it hasn’t changed their approach.

“We are still very much a vocal group that focuses on Brazilian music and honoring where we came from,” Martins said. “We want people to feel the music and identify and connect with it.”

Ordinarius has been successful on that front in Brazil and beyond, earning critical acclaim and a second-place finish in a National Vocal Group Competition in 2012. A CD release was named one of the 100 best of the year for the Brazilian Music Awards. The following year, the singers performed across Europe and South America. In 2014, they returned to the National Vocal Group competition and won the contest.

Commercial success has not necessarily followed as it’s hard to get a foothold on the radio or other media as some American groups like Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser have domestically. The performances, however, are equally as stirring and experiential.

“We have the authenticity and the ability to bond with people by presenting a palette of different and unique sounds,” Ordine said. “It’s quite rewarding to make music you want to make and not worry if it’s going to sell or not.”

On its U.S. tour, Ordinarius will perform the music of Carmen Miranda, a Brazilian who burst to  American stardom with her singing and dancing in the 1930s. Their repertoire will also mix in some cover tunes, including Stevie Wonder, but Martins said that’s not the backbone of their catalog.

“When we do that, we never sing a song the way it’s been recorded,” She says. “It’s very different, with our own touch on it.”

The pair believe the use of percussion and the blending of six incredible voices will allow them to bond with audiences. In some sense, they’ll feel out the crowd as they perform and lean on music that resonates with those who are familiar are new to the group.

“We want everyone to leave feeling good, like they’ve seen something they never had before,” Ordine said.

Buy tickets for Ordinarius’ only show in Mid-Michigan here.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

The Rapid Helps Family Teach Environmental Stewardship

Irene and Ken Kraegel believe actions speak louder than words.

“That’s especially true when it comes to parenting: Children do what we do — not what we say,” said Irene Kraegel, a counselor at Calvin College. “So part of our parenting strategy with our son is modeling for him the qualities that we think are important.”

That’s where The Rapid comes in.

As a way to do their part in reducing carbon emissions and helping the environment, the Kraegels choose to own only one vehicle and instead ride The Rapid whenever possible.

Irene takes the bus several times a week from their home in Grand Rapids to her job at Calvin College. Along with the environmental benefits, public transportation is a great way to feel connected to the community.

“Being in a car is a solitary experience. But when I’m on the bus, it broadens my horizons a little bit and enriches my life by being around other people,” she said.

On The Rapid, she’s discovered a community of like-minded people who value many of the same things she does. And that’s translated into some new friendships.

When she’s not chatting with other riders, Irene likes to read a book or listen to music. And just relax. Walking to and from her bus stop is also a welcome break in her busy day.

In their spare time, the Kraegels love taking their son downtown on the bus to visit the library or a museum. It’s one of the many ways they teach him about being good environmental stewards.

Even when it’s not easy.

“It’s harder to live right than to talk about living right. And living as simply as possible is not something we do perfectly,” Irene said.

“But we notice that our son has started coming up with his own ideas for environmental stewardship. That’s really fun to watch,” she said.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

8 Unique Michigan Experiences for Your Next Date Night

So, axe throwing is a thing. Just pick up a hatchet, stand about 15 feet from a target and let it fly.

How about that for your next date night?

“We’ve actually had a lot of people come in looking for an alternative to dinner and a movie,” said Rich Baker, owner of Bull’s Eye Axe Throwing in Lansing. “It’s one of the only sports where men, women and kids are all on the same playing field.

“It’s not about strength at all. It’s all about technique and consistency. We have as young as 8-year-olds that throw with us and our oldest people that we’ve had throwing with us is 90.”

Axe throwing in the past couple years has emerged as a popular leisure activity that’s growing around the country, although Bull’s Eye is one of only a few places in Michigan where you can do it.

Wanna give it a shot, er, throw? Book a hotel and come hang out at Bull’s Eye for an hour or two. While you’re in town, you can check out other unique Michigan experiences that you can only have in Lansing:

1. There’s yoga, with stretching and breathing exercises. Then there’s goat yoga, with cute little animals climbing over, under and on top of you as you do stretching and breathing exercises. Goat Yoga Michigan in Williamston, just east of Lansing, is one of a handful of centers around the country where yoga turns into animal-assisted therapy with the playful presence of goats. It’s a memorable way to get some exercise while bonding with friendly animals that pine for your attention.

2. The Beatles never performed in Lansing, but the city is home to one of the most impressive collections of Beatles memorabilia. The Spector Beatles Collection includes about 2,000 square-feet of paraphernalia in a private house in Dimondale. Fans can make an appointment to tour the collection for $10. Artifacts include many vintage items from the 1960s, original works of art and hand-signed items that owners Victoria Spector-Walker and Jim Walker have collected over the years.

3. ChrisCross SlaughterSauce and Malice in Plunderland are real characters in the Capital Region, where the Lansing Derby Vixens and East Lansing Mitten Mavens compete in the rough-and-tumble realm of roller derby. The sport is chronicled in the 2009 Michigan-made movie, “Whip It,” and is truly a change of pace from mainstream sports like football and basketball. Check out the team sites for match schedules and see the women make incredible moves on the flat track.

4. If you’d rather participate in an activity than watch it, check out the District 5 Extreme Air Sports trampoline park. The facility in Lansing has 10,000 square-feet of connected trampolines for crazy jumping, slam dunking, extreme dodgeball and even a ninja obstacle course like on TV. And, no, it’s not just for kids. Grown-ups can have a blast here, too.

5. Don’t have tickets to the basketball game? No problem. The Izzo Hall of History at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center is open throughout the year on non-game days. You can relive the glories ofMSU basketball by getting a look at the program’s trophy collection, paying tribute to notable former players and taking a selfie in Sparty heaven. Afterwards, head on over to the MSU Dairy Store and taste what even Michigan fans will tell you is the best ice cream in the state.

6. You can taste the best food in mid-Michigan by visiting any number of Greater Lansing restaurants, and with JoyRide Pedal Tours you can combine the area’s fine cuisine with the happiest biking experience in the world. Get a group of friends together on a bike with 15 seats and go on an extraordinary pub crawl, progressive dinner or exercise expedition.

7. Cross something off your Michigander bucket list by attending the lighting of the official state Christmas tree, a 62-footer from Alpena. The 2018 event in front of the Michigan Capitol building is part of the annual Silver Bells in the City that kicks off the holiday season with a gift market, live concert and arrival of Santa Claus in an incredible Electric Light Parade.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

‘Coolest Thing Made in Michigan’ Contest Down to the Top 10

Michigan has long been the national leader in manufacturing and innovation, starting as the epicenter of automobile production and continuing to adapt while taking on today’s challenges in emerging technology. From household staples to life-improving machinery, the Mitten State has produced almost everything imaginable.

And now voters have narrowed down the state’s “coolest” to 10 great products. The “Coolest Thing Made in Michigan” contest gives voters the ability to select their favorite of Michigan’s Top 10 and decide what is the most amazing Michigan-made product.

The exciting new web-based popular vote is the idea of the Michigan Manufacturers Association, a trade group that advocates for the state’s manufacturers and their employees. The first-ever award is a part of the MMA’s MFG Excellence Awards, which have honored and promoted the story of Michigan’s makers for a century.

Chuck Hadden, president and CEO of the MMA, said Michigan and the world depends on a firm commitment to cost-effective manufacturing.

“Whether you know it or not, manufacturing has shaped and continues to shape the lives of every person in Michigan,” Hadden said. “From the products we use to the communities we call home, manufacturers make that possible. We’re here to ensure those companies — from the smallest manufacturer to the global giants — can compete with business across the street, throughout the country, and around the world.”

The MMA is giving voters the chance to pick their favorite product that has rolled off an assembly line here. The organization encourages voters to show their state pride by making a selection that defines cool and plays an important part in their lives.

View the nominees that have earned a chance to be the “Coolest Thing Made in Michigan” in the photo gallery below and then vote for your top choice among the top 10 finalists.

The MFG Excellence Awards will be presented Nov. 8 at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center in East Lansing. The annual honors highlight Michigan producing more than $52 billion in manufactured goods every year and employing more than 623,000 people.

The MMA provides professional development and strategic business services that help companies compete with others states and countries through cost-saving services and offering a top-tier package of competitive insurance rates. The group also hosts events focused on providing solutions to manufacturing issues.

Supporting manufacturing in Michigan is a necessity, said Elyse Kopietz, MMA director of communications, marketing and events.

“Manufacturers spend every hour of every day working to improve the lives of people around the world,” Kopietz said. “That’s something we should all take pride in — these are stories that deserve to be told.”

Learn more about the MMA here

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.