Posted: August 8, 2022
Five hundred retirement community residents from Holly Creek Life Plan Community, associates and family members pulled on their sneakers and hiking boots to see if they could walk from New York City to San Diego – figuratively.
These participants in the 30-day Walk Across America set up a friendly competition between Christian Living Communities’ teams to log the most miles of daily walking in and around their communities. Participants’ miles were combined by community and plotted across a map of the United States to see who would be the first to walk the distance spanning the East and West coasts.
The initiative quickly turned into a highly competitive “walk” past San Diego and around the globe, pitching the communities’ teams against each other to see who could go furthest. Holly Creek Life Plan Community in Centennial, Colorado put up a map of the United States to show how far they’d walked. The map became a moot point in a week, with the community setting their sights across the Pacific Ocean.
“The goal was to encourage residents, associates, and family members to be more active,” explained CLC’s Wellness Programs Developer Patrick Shelton, who developed and organized the competition. “Over the weeks, I noticed a pattern of increased miles each week to the next, which is exactly what I wanted to see. People started with a doable amount and then ramped up their activity over time, which is super good for health on many levels.”
Prizes were awarded to the residents with the most miles walked individually and those with the best team names. This encouraged individual team members to challenge one another and shine in their areas of strength. In addition to walking, participants could count certain amounts of other exercise activities toward their walking miles.
“All the community teams were very careful at tracking their miles,” Shelton said. “At the end of each week, I updated the communities with an email about their current “location,” and distance compared with other teams.”
Holly Creek Life Plan Community and Someren Glen Life Plan Community in Centennial ultimately topped the charts for the most distance walked. The Holly Creek team of 79 residents and 20 team members walked 8,279.77 miles and have “relocated to French Polynesia in which each walker now owns their own private island,” Shelton joked.
All of the communities noticed increased activity by their residents and team members, with the collective effort encouraging many who might not otherwise have participated to join the walk. For those who were already more active, coming in first became highly competitive, with differences sometimes of only a tenth of a mile.
“Everyone kept asking who was leading,” Shelton recalled. “It was great! Even better since every mile walked and every type of exercise counted towards having better mobility, health, and quality of life. Every one of us made that happen.”
Shelton was pleased by the level of participation and plans to do the competition again next year.
“Great things happen when everyone comes together to accomplish the mission,” he said. “We came together as one organization in order promote health and well-being for everyone.”
Next year, Shelton plans to raise the bar because the U.S. was just too small. Together the participating communities walked 49,311.04 miles — around the globe, twice!