A Grand Adventure: Catching Up With MARSP’s 2020 Grand Hotel Trip Winner

Bonnie Lawrence, 2020 Grand Prize Winner

A Grand Adventure: Catching Up With MARSP's 2020 Grand Hotel Trip Winner

We recently caught up with Bonnie Lawrence, MARSP Board Member and winner of the 2020 MARSP Referral Grand Hotel Prize Trip. Bonnie was finally able to visit Mackinac Island in September 2021, accompanied by her friend, Carol.

Bonnie devoted her professional life to Special Education and Early Childhood Development, eventually earning a double masters in the field from Oakland University. At the start of her career, the need for special education teachers was so great that the Lapeer County school district hired her as a Head Start teacher directly after student teaching. She continued to teach for another 12 years and then transitioned into Special Education Director in Lapeer to lead the Pre-Kindergarten Special Needs Program. Bonnie excelled in this position for the next 18 years.

In 2010, just before her 60th birthday, Bonnie lost her husband of 37 years to cancer. That same year, she was offered a buyout from the district. While she loved her work, Bonnie knew, too, that leaving would open up her world to new opportunities.

She found her next adventure while talking with a niece who was preparing for a tour with the Peace Corp after college graduation. Bonnie applied for the Peace Corps in July 2011, and left on her mission in October of 2012. She spent the next two years teaching in Lesotho, a small country in southern Africa. Of the 30 people that were on her mission, only five were seniors – one of them was Carol. Bonnie and Carol became fast friends and the two continued to travel and enjoy life together after their mission.

Bonnie in Lesotho
Bonnie with Dr. Clement, education director, at a school swearing-in ceremony

Carol lives with her family in St. Louis, and had been to Michigan, but never further north than Grand Rapids. When Bonnie found out she had won a trip to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, she knew Carol was the friend to accompany her. The two turned the trip into a week-long tour of Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.   

Having been to the island many times, Bonnie knew all the tips and tricks, like parking in St. Ignace vs Mackinaw City to travel across to the island. She noted that on a normal day, you can see Mackinac Island from the shores of St. Ignace, but the two found themselves in the middle of an unusually strong September storm. 

The dreary weather didn’t prevent Bonnie and Carol from experiencing the bountiful island attractions. They got a buggy and toured the island – their new friend Jack on the reins. They sampled fudge from every shop on the main street, awarding “Best Fudge” to The Murray Hotel.  

“We had a fabulous time at the Grand Hotel,” said Bonnie, “Including soaking in the outside hot tub, having a drink & hor’dourves in the Cupola Bar while watching the sunset, sitting on rockers on the front porch, and of course eating way too much at breakfast and dinner!”

Carol & Bonnie explore Northern Michigan

Bonnie thanked MARSP for the opportunity to experience Mackinac Island and “share the great ‘Yooper’ experience” with her dear friend, Carol.

Mackinac Island could be your next adventure! MARSP members who refer a friend, former colleague, spouse or pension beneficiary are entered into a monthly drawing for a $25 Visa® gift card, as well as the grand prize drawing of a trip for two to Mackinac Island.


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