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Tallgrass Creek’s walking challenge logs thousands of miles

Created date

November 20th, 2014
resident with their dog on a bench

Sixty-seven Creek residents and 32 staff members took a long walk in September. The exercise enthusiasts participated in an annual, month-long wellness challenge sponsored by Erickson Living, the managing company of the Overland Park, Kans., community. 

Tallgrass Creek modified Erickson Living’s original challenge to a virtual “Walk Across America,” which provided a lively competition between the community’s residents and staff. 

“It didn’t matter if participants walked around the community, on the treadmill, golf course, gardened, or did some other form of exercise,” says Amy Rader, Tallgrass Creek wellness coordinator and official score keeper. “It all counted.” 

Miles from Maryland

Tallgrass Creek resident and staff teams were measured weekly on a map of America posted in the community’s lobby with miles logged as if walkers were actually traversing the country. The starting point was Baltimore, Md., the location of Erickson Living’s corporate headquarters, with all participants heading west to California. 

Miles were measured in time walked with 20 minutes equating to one mile. Participants submitted weekly log sheets of miles walked, and Rader posted both groups’ locations in a “where are we now” section on the map.  

Any non-walking exercise (chair exercise, gardening, lifting weights) counted as half the minutes. For instance, if participants participated in 40 minutes of chair exercise, that counted as 20 minutes of walking or one mile. 

Resident walkers ended the competition on Sept. 30 by virtually walking from Maryland to McPherson, Kans., a distance of 2,313 miles. Staff walkers rolled into Lawrence, Kans., a distance of 2,210 miles.  

Winning Walkers

For the second year in a row, Roger Johnson led the resident walkers by logging 183 miles of walking time. Roger, a longtime, enthusiastic walker, is a great believer in the healthful benefits of walking and exercise.

“Walking helps clear your head,” says Roger, who walks on Tallgrass Creek’s 65-acre campus almost every day. “It’s really a great and necessary part of my day.”  

The second-place resident walker was Jeanne Hershey, who walked 141 miles during the competition. Jeanne says inspiration comes from her rescue dog Nugget, a nine-year-old yellow labrador retriever.

“Nugget needs lots of exercise so we walk about five times a day,” says Jeanne. “We sometimes go to the dog park, but we’ve covered the grounds many times.”

Jeanne, who moved from Iowa to Tallgrass Creek in June, loves to golf and formerly always walked the course carrying her clubs. She also enjoys walking at the Overland Park Arboretum, a 300-acre botanical garden located in south Overland Park, just a few miles from Tallgrass Creek.

Winning staff walker was Amy Cottrell, who markets Erickson Living Health Services and walked 100 miles. Right behind her was Debbie Messmer, sales director, who walked 95 miles during the competition. 

“I walk about three miles a day on my treadmill at home while watching shows I’ve taped,” says Messmer. “I’m working back up to my former walking time of five to six miles a day.”   

The walking continues at Tallgrass Creek with many residents daily covering the entire area of the community both inside and out. “It’s an easy way to enjoy the outdoors and nature,” says Jeanne. “And the health benefits are great.” 

Now that our cold Kansas winter is on the way, residents will still take their daily walks in the climate-controlled walkways that connect every building.