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Walking the walk at Tallgrass Creek

Contest challengers log thousands of miles

Created date

November 25th, 2015
Ron Wilson, facilities supervisor and top staff walker; Cydney Cunningham, wellness coordinator and contest scorekeeper; and resident Dick Marquette, who logged the most miles among residents.
Tallgrass Creek participants, Walk Across America

Earlier this year, 75 Tallgrass Creek residents competed against 35 staff members from the Overland Park, Kans., community to see which group could walk the farthest for an entire month. 

The lively competition is sponsored annually by Erickson Living, the developer and managing company of Tallgrass Creek, and called “Walk Across America.” The competition challenges participants to virtually start walking from Erickson Living’s headquarters in Baltimore, Md., and head west across the country. Resident and staff teams were measured weekly on a giant map of America posted in Tallgrass Creek’s fitness fenter as if participants were actually traversing the country.

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

Miles were measured in time walked with 20 minutes equating to one mile. Any non-walking exercise (chair exercise, gardening, lifting weights, etc.) counted as half the minutes. Residents and staff kept track of their progress via personal logs of miles walked, and each week, Cunningham posted both groups’ locations in a “Where are we now?” section on the map.  

And the winners are  

Resident walkers won the month-long competition by virtually walking from Baltimore to Las Vegas, Nev., a distance of 3,435 miles. Staff walkers made it to Independence, Calif. The two groups totaled 6,705 miles, the equivalent of crisscrossing the country. 

The top resident walker this year was Dick Marquette, who logged 195 miles during the contest period. He and wife Deanna moved in May to Meadowlark Terrace, Tallgrass Creek’s new residence building and walk at 5 a.m. every day. 

“We’re both early birds and enjoy the early morning air and sounds,” says Dick, a retired architect. “We walk all around the campus, along Metcalf Avenue, and sometimes throughout a nearby neighborhood. Walking is a daily part of our lives.” 

Dick also enjoys golfing and plays several times a week, including with the Tallgrass Creek Golf Club. He is also a regular in the community’s fitness center. 

Resident Jack Dritely, who walked 185 miles, achieved second place, and third place honors went to Mark Gingrich, who logged 147 miles. Jack and Mark join Dick on the Tallgrass Creek Golf Club and golf several times a week.    

The staff’s top walker was facilities supervisor Ron Wilson, who walked 253 miles. Wilson strength-trains three times a week and also bicycles. 

Exercise options galore 

The walking and exercising continue at Tallgrass Creek with a multitude of physical activities that take place in and outside the fitness center and in the large, indoor, temperature-controlled pool. Cunningham oversees all water-based activities and is passionate about pool exercise.

“You’re working with only 10% of your body weight in the pool, so it is a gentle way to exercise and build muscle,” says Cydney. “We’ve seen some amazing results with increases in strength and stamina among residents who participate in our water aerobics classes.” 

Tallgrass Creek also offers many land-based exercise options, all coordinated by fitness specialist Camin Bell. Like Cunningham’s classes, the land classes also promote balance, strength, coordination, and flexibility. 

“Our workouts all have a purpose, but we also manage to have fun, says Cunningham. “The class participants always seem to leave smiling.”