The halls of elementary schools always abound with the scurry of little feet. But for 15 days in September, the staff of Clarkson Elementary gave students a run for their steps during the statewide 15 Day Dash. The fitness event was the first in a series of fitness challenges sponsored by Humana Vitality for the Kentucky Employee Health Program, of which Grayson County Schools is a member. Continuing challenges are designed to help employees become happier and healthier in an encouraging environment, according the Humana Vitality website.
Teams from each school and the district central office kept track of their daily steps through a pedometer, synced to the Humana Vitality website. For some participants, better fitness was the motivation, others had personal goals they wanted to meet. For others, it was the team camaraderie that motivated them to start and then keep going.
At the end of the 15–day challenge, however, the highly competitive, 17-member Clarkson Redhawk Racers were the Grayson County champs, placing 19th out of 671 teams statewide, with an average of more than 15,000 steps each day.
The challenge wasn’t without challenges itself, though. According to Racers Team Coordinator Priscilla Allen, several members kept right on stepping even though odds weren’t always in their favor.
Partially through the Dash, “DeeDee Beeler had to be put in a boot with a broken foot bone,” she said.
And team member Angie Abner consistently lost steps when her pedometer wouldn’t sync properly.
“But we were all motivated to continue,” said Allen said, adding that team members never passed one another in hall without providing a bit of motivation—often competitive, always friendly. In fact, Allen noted that each member had a “buddy” throughout that kept them on track, and kept them on their toes—literally.
Allen also had a very personal goal motivating her daily efforts. She and husband Jim wanted to participate in Elizabethtown’s annual Fall Color Run as a 34th wedding anniversary experience. As it turned out, her son, Jacob, and his wife, Michelle, ran with them. And daughter Clarissa flew in from Seattle to make it a complete family affair.
And families that step together, stay together. Priscilla Allen and Michelle Allen (also a Clarkson staff member), “continue to walk for the 10 minutes that our lunch breaks overlap,” she said, as a way to stay fit and stay in touch.
With just a step or two separating participants at every level, 4th Grade Teacher Joyce Elmore was only a few away from cracking the top 100 with 451,688 steps. Several participants throughout the school and the district finished in the top 10 percent of the state.
The steps challenges continue with an October Pumpkin Push. While the original Racers had to break into smaller teams for this event, one of those teams is currently in 5th place out of a vast 2,675 teams statewide. Several members have already made plans to keep the fitness momentum going into the holiday season in the November Turkey Trot. Given their enthusiasm so far, those plans will likely extend far into the New Year.