K.I. Sawyer holds cardboard sled races over weekend to bring positive light to community

North Central UP

MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – A cardboard sledding event was held over the weekend at the K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base.

Kids could be seen sliding down the Sawyer Sled Hill in their custom-made sleds as they raced to the finish line.

This is just one of the ways some local people are trying to bring a positive light to the area.

The Salvation Army of Marquette County and Gwinn Lions Club were there to help with the event but, there is one man who is the true driving force behind creating these fun events for the K.I. Sawyer community: Ryan Lipinski.

“K.I. Sawyer, we’re out in the middle of nowhere pretty much and the kids don’t have a lot of things to do out here,” said Lipinski. “So one of the things we started doing: This is the second annual cardboard sled race. It’s completely free to the community, we give free food and everything else. The kids spent the last couple of months building cardboard sleds with nothing but duct tape and cardboard.”

According to Lipinski, K.I. Sawyer has had a bad reputation in other surrounding areas over the years. He and other community members want to help change that.

“The reason I put on all these events is because I want people to see what fun stuff we do out here. There’s a lot of things to do: we have a ski hill, we have a frisbee course, and we have all kinds of trails through here. There’s snowmobiling. There’s pretty much anything you want to do, it’s right here in this neighborhood. We want to make those things known in the community and known throughout the county and the U.P. that Sawyer is actually a great place to live.”

Lipinski stays busy throughout the year curating these events and surveying the community on Facebook to see what kind of events they may be interested in. He calls himself the “unofficial” K.I. Sawyer event coordinator because he volunteers his own time and money to create fun events for his community. In the past, he’s done Easter egg hunts, haunted graveyards, and of course the cardboard sled races.

Aside from events, he’s also put up multiple kiosks around the neighborhood such as a book kiosk and a can kiosk where people can donate canned goods or take whatever food they may need. Lipinski is definitely the moving force in making the airbase a positive place to live.

A family that recently moved to the base from Wisconsin said the community has made them feel welcome since coming to the area.

“My kids and I, we have both just blossomed,” said Sandy Davis. “They’re great in the school. The school is awesome here, and my kids are just enjoying it a lot. We’ve met so many new people here, and there are a lot of great people here. There are always bad people in the community, too, but there are so many great people that we have met and just made friends with.”

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