Better fundraising through ‘gravel grinding’: Class of 1964 graduate earns money for scholarship

MARQUETTE — In the relatively new world of gravel biking, otherwise known as “gravel grinding,” a trip to Nahma has added to the funds of a local school scholarship.

Clyde Hecox, who lives about 60 miles south of Wetmore and is a member of the Graveraet Class of 1964, decided to donate $1 for every mile he rode on his custom-made gravel bike.

The ’64 class was unique in several ways.

“That’s the last graduating class of Graveraet,” Hecox said. “It’s the only class who went through all four years half-days because the school was overcrowded.”

Students attended school from noon to 5 p.m. back then, he said.

Now, Marquette Area Public Schools students attend Marquette Senior High School for a regular school day — at least until the COVID-19 pandemic hit — with Graveraet now an elementary school.

“We have a special bond, I think, because there’s some adversity — trying to study, trying to be a teenager,” Hecox said. “So, we feel like we’re a special group.”

As part of that group, he’s now into “gravel grinding,” which made his contribution to the scholarship all that more special.

“It’s a big thing now,” Hecox said of this kind of specialty recreation.

How the scholarship works

The class decided to start a Graveraet Class of 1964 Scholarship following the 50th reunion, with the first scholarship awarded to a Marquette Senior High School senior in the year of its 55th reunion for $1,964 — matching the date of their graduating year.

The goal was exceeded, with Jazel Heibacka awarded the scholarship. In fact, she was the first person in her family to go to college.

That was the first goal, the second being the class’s scholarship committee launching a perpetual scholarship fund to enable it to award a $1,964 scholarship for college, technical or trade school every five years beginning in 2024.

The committee needs $13,000 to achieve that goal, and now is more than halfway there. To reach that second “goalpost,” it needs to raise an additional $7,500. So, it set two “intermediate yard lines”: raising $2,750 by Aug. 21 to reach the 25-yard line and the other $2,750 by Nov. 1.

It estimates if 100 classmates contribute $27.50 by Aug. 1 and then on Nov. 1, it will be able to award the scholarship every five years in perpetuity.

Donors may make their contributions in memory of a favorite teacher. The names of the honored teachers will be mentioned in the award presentation. Donations can be made to: MAPS Education Foundation, 1201 W. Fair Ave., Marquette, MI 49855, or at MapsEducationFoundation.weebly.com. Donors should indicate the funds are for the Graveraet Class of 1964.

“If other classes can raise $13,000, they can give a scholarship forever for around $2,000,” Hecox said.

It also can be an inspiration, he noted, to the younger generation who has more time to devote to such a cause.

“We’re old. We’re dropping off,” he said.

The Graveraet scholarship too can be a legacy for the 1964 class in which “everybody was successful,” he said.

“We want to say we did something,” Hecox said.

The bicycling aspect

Hecox said the scholarship raising had stalled a bit.

“I got this idea in my head,” he said. “Well, I’ll go for a ride and see if anybody will give me any money.”

He earned about $2,500 for the recent ride to Nahma and back.

And he did it by gravel biking, which he called “the latest, hottest thing in biking.”

Hecox mentioned a few facts of life in road biking: the number of distracted motorists traveling by them and the rough, gravel surfaces. So, safety is important.

“Basically, it’s a modified road bike,” Hecox said. “You see the tires are thicker. They’re real heavy duty. The rims are heavy duty.”

He built his fortified gravel bike himself out of “junk,” although he acknowledged it’s a lot cheaper that way.

However, Hecox can ride better on gravel, which came in handy during his fundraising ride to Nahma, which totaled just over 76 miles on unpaved roads in “one day, one ride.”

“Gravel grinding,” as it’s called, involves special equipment. In Hecox’s case, his gravel bike, a 1982 touring bike, has the same geometry as the modern gravel bikes.

“It’s a hodgepodge,” Hecox said. “It’s got modern shifters on it, and it’s got old 1990s mountain bike technology on it.”

Human age does not appear to be a detriment to gravel grinding.

“There’s a bunch of people that are in their 70s, and I’m not really anything special,” the 74-year-old Hecox said.

However, some folks might disagree, especially those who ride a few short jaunts just on weekends, or sedentary ones who don’t ride at all.

That might change.

“There’s going to be more and more people like me,” Hecox said, what with the emerging bicyclists having started at a younger age with mountain biking.

Still, at least one person is impressed with Hecox’s achievements.

Classmate Dwight Johnson made this post on Facebook: “Thanks for doing this, Clyde…another good story when we’re all in the nursing home…the man, the myth, the Legend…Clyde Hecox.”

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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