When was the last time that you biked 50 miles? 100? 300 miles? For Brenda Phillips, U-M Health System grant specialist, long-distance bike rides are just a part of her routine — another way to stay healthy.

“Biking — it’s a great way to stay active, and it’s a great way to get places,” she laughs.

In the Department of General Medicine, the second largest department at U-M, Phillips helps faculty secure funding for their research projects for a variety of programs, including breast cancer, kidney, and labor and delivery research.

Faculty members enlist Phillips’ help with the budget, with preparing and submitting paperwork, and getting the program funded. Although some post-award account reconciliation is done, Phillips primarily works on pre-award financial business. 

“They have clinics, they teach, they research, they do amazing things,” Phillips says of the faculty she works with. “I get to meet people and be involved with faculty, which is where I wanted to be in the first place.”

Brenda Phillips is a grant specialist at the U-M Health System and finds numerous ways to stay active outside of work. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

Outside of the office, Phillips makes it a priority to stay active. She has served as a coordinator for MHealthy’s Active U, and competes on a team each year with her coworkers. Her Active U participation and training help her prepare for other events that she participates in. “I’m always training for something.”

But for Phillips, staying active and healthy is only a part of it.

“I’m always doing something for my fundraising, giving back to the community, kind of paying forward,” she says.  “It’s more of just doing something for somebody else. At this point in my life, at age 56, I’m still pretty healthy. It’s kind of nice to be able to help out. It’s good to meet people and stay in shape, and it’s definitely a great cause.”

Phillips has participated in the Susan G. Komen three-day breast cancer walk for several years, as well as the Avon 40-mile-walk in 2012.

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To switch things up from walking, she began to bike ride. Last summer, Phillips biked 300 miles from Traverse City to Michigan International Speedway south of Jackson for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. She also did the 50-mile Zoo-de-Mack Ride and the 100-mile One Helluva Ride as training. 

Whenever the opportunity arises, Phillips jumps at the chance to be involved, from long-distance events to 5Ks, or even just volunteering to help run events. With three grown children, staying active gives Phillips something to do. “I’m kind of a busy body.”

And with four long-distance bike rides on the schedule for the year, and many more events to come, she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.