Amelia a Walking Wednesday pioneer

Friday, August 5, 2011
Amelia Stedman (second from left) is the only walker to have participated each of the 10 weeks of the Walking Wednesdays program that concluded this week. Joining Amelia for a post-walk celebration at the gazebo along Calbert Way are Jackie Baumann (left) and Joy Marley (right), members of the Health Coalition that organized the program, and fellow walker Kathy Potter, who did nine of the 10 walks and won a $25 gift certificate in the grand finale drawing.

An old adage suggests that you can never really know a person until you walk a mile in his or her shoes.

So if you really want to get to know octogenarian Amelia Stedman, you'd better be prepared for a long walk.

Amelia, who will celebrate her 83rd birthday on Friday, is the only one of 85 overall participants in the Walking Wednesdays program to have walked all 10 weeks of the inaugural Putnam County effort.

Sponsored by partners of the Putnam County Health Coalition, the objective of Walking Wednesday was to introduce and highlight safe walking/running routes within the community.

Participants averaged about 40 per week with a high of 56 and the lowest turnout occurring July 20 when temperatures hovered around 100 degrees with a heat index of 110-115.

"One of our committee members wanted us to cancel that night, but we knew we couldn't because we knew Amelia would show up anyway," committee member Jackie Baumann said.

Amelia was one of only 20 or 21 who braved the heat that night.

"It's pretty amazing," Baumann continued. "She wouldn't miss it. We knew it would be hot so we left it to peoples' own judgment and encouraged everyone who did come to do shorter distance."

"It was hot the whole 10 weeks," Amelia said as she accepted congratulations as the lone 10-week participant.

Amelia says she walks about three times a week, frequenting the Fillmore-to-Greencastle People Pathways trail since she lives near Fillmore.

"She regularly exercises at Curves and does her best to keep fit and active," Baumann praised. "We need to follow Amelia's example of what to do if we want to live well and be active at 83 like her."

Frankie Hoskins, who is 81, also loves to walk and missed only the hot laps on July 20.

"I skipped that one," she said, "because it was just too hot."

Younger participants, like Penny Long, ran each week as walkers and runners chose among one-mile, 2K or 5K routes.

Joy Marley, one of the pioneers of the People Pathways effort and a Walking Wednesdays committee member as well, was thrilled with the first-year results of the program.

Every single week, she and Baumann both pointed out, someone would say they were on a route they had never been on before. A different pathway segment or DePauw Nature Park trail was incorporated into each week's route.

"We cooked 'em, broiled 'em, steamed 'em, and I think tonight we baked 'em," Marley said, passing out popsicles to the finishers at the gazebo.

Over the 10 weeks, walkers and runners have ranged in age from 2 to 83 and have come from all corners of Greencastle and Putnam County, including Cloverdale, Bainbridge, Roachdale, Fillmore. Heritage Lake and Quincy.

While some pushed babies in strollers, others walked with dogs on leashes, although most of the puppies ended up being carried by the end of the walk, Marley laughed.

The program was sponsored by the Putnam County Health Coalition in an effort to encourage local citizens to become more active and to help them become better acquainted with a variety of walking paths and trails available in the community.

The coalition was due to meet to review the program and consider another series of walks.

"We have hopes for a fall series when it's not so hot," Baumann said.

To which even Amelia Stedman might say, "Amen."

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