Stories and Testimonials
Described below are inspirational stories and testimonials about active living. Each month we will continue to add new stories here. If you would like to share your story with our web site community, simply click here to e-mail us your story or testimonial. If you send us an e-photo, we will consider it as well. At your request, we will publish your story anonymously. Also, if you prefer to send hardcopy, please mail your story/photo to:
PO Box 4190
McCall, ID 83638
EDWARD PAYSON WESTON WALKS ACROSS AMERICA - AT AGE 71
Perhaps the greatest pure walker of all time, Edward Payson Weston, started his walking career with a 453-mile trek from Boston to Washington D.C. in 1861. This walk took Weston 10 days and 10 hours. The 10 hours was significant because it caused Weston to lose a $10,000 bet for not arriving on time for Abraham Lincoln's inauguration. Nevertheless, President Lincoln gave Weston a congratulatory handshake which inspired Weston to compete in many pedestrian competitions, including six-day ultra-marathon races in Madison Square Garden, and Agricultural Hall in England, before huge capacity crowds. Weston was known to walk as many as 125 miles in a single day, and upwards of 550 miles in six-day events. When the media questioned his ability as a senior to continue walking, Weston showed America that walking was for all ages as he confidently trekked from Los Angeles to New York, 3600+ miles, in 88 days, averaging 41 miles per day - at age 71! Weston continued walking 25 miles a day well into his 80's. He died at age 90, two years after being struck by a New York City taxicab, which caused him to lose the use of his legs. By the way, when Weston was born in 1839, the average life expectancy in America was 40 years.
ROBERT SWEETGALL WALKS THE 50 STATES (11,208 miles)
TO PROMOTE HEALTH AND WALKING
Inspired by the great Edward Payson Weston, and a family history of heart disease, Robert Sweetgall resigned from his secure Dupont chemical engineering job to start a new mission in life. Ultimately Sweetgall would walk through all 50 states (with air shuttles to Alaska and Hawaii) averaging 31 miles per day - over 365 straight days. Most interesting was the solo nature of this walk as Sweetgall carried just a 4-lb. fanny pack for support on America's highways without a support vehicle. Sleeping in the homes of people he met along the way, as well as in hotels, jail cells, churches, fire stations, and station wagons, and even one night in a grain elevator, Sweetgall finished his one-year journey in New York City in 1985. That year, Robert Sweetgall reached millions of people through TV, radio and newsprint interviews with his inspiring story on walking for wellness.
THE FORT RIVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ORGANIZES A
FIFTH-GRADE WALK ACROSS MASSACHUSETTS
While many schools have plotted their miles on a map "to walk" to their favorite destination, a group of 28 fifth-graders actually completed a real 48-mile four-day destination walk along the historic colonial Boston Post Road from Amherst to Worcester, MA. Organized by their physical education teacher, Joanne Briand, this walk involved a 17-week after-school training program which enabled the 28 fifth-graders to build up to the 12 miles per day distance they would need to cover to complete this trek in four school days. All 28 student walkers completed the journey, along with participating teachers, parents, and the school principal. One 11-year-old girl, Dorith Peleg, eventually went on to write an entire book - Road Scholars - about this walking project (click here)
MOORE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WALKS A MARATHON
ON THE NATCHEZ TRACE
Inspired by the original Fort River walking project, John Parks, physical education teacher at Moore Elementary School, implemented a voluntary after-school training program leading up to a 26-mile adventure/walk on the Tennessee section of the historic Natchez Trace. Since 1993, Parks has successfully completed this extra-curricular walking project, averaging approximately 50 students - mostly 4th and 5th graders - each year. John hopes to continue this healthy tradition in the Franklin Special School District, especially now that his own children will be able to participate in the project.
HAMPTON SCHOOL WALKS 25,000 MILES FOR
IMPROVED CHARACTER, HEALTH AND EDUCATION
Led by school administrator, Ron Paquette, the Hampton K-8 School of Hampton, IL, set out to walk 25,000 miles in one complete school year in 1998. This required that each of Hampton's 250 students and staff average 100 miles that year. Not only did Hampton School meet their 1998-1999 physical goal, but the school's behavioral detention rate was slashed from 340 to 91 detentions the same year that the walking program was implemented. Academic test stores improved, too. Needless to say, Dr. Paquette and his staff were thrilled with the results.
A WALK ACROSS THE NAVAJO NATION
As an outgrowth from their Journey To Wellness conference,
the Navajo Nation planned a special 200-mile Journey to Wellness Walk in May,
1997. This walk started in Window Rock, AZ, and wound its way through the villages of
Ganado, Chinle, Tsaile, Round Rock, Mexican Water, Teec Nos Pos and finally, Shiprock,
NM. In total, some 3,400 Navajos participated along various legs of this five-day journey.
Since 1997, many of the Navajo area health service units sponsor walks within their geographic
regions. For more information on the book describing this Journey To Wellness project, click
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