Walk tradition unites community
Approximately 165 local walkers assembled in Rugby’s Jaycees Park the evening of Thursday, August 16 to celebrate a 33-year tradition with Sanford Heart of America Health Plan.
The annual Rugby Fun Walk took place on a three-mile course, just as it has since its beginning, according to event organizer Mary Ann Jaeger, who works as Sanford Heart of America Health Plan’s Client Services Specialist when she’s not wearing her walking shoes.
“We’ve always done a 3 mile walk,” Jaeger said of the event. which has had different courses throughout its history. “We give out free t-shirts. We ask that walkers pre-register so they can get the size they want, but they can come the evening of the walk, too, and get an extra shirt if we have them.”
She added, “This was to raise awareness for health, and it’s always been a way to promote health and do a little bit of advertising at the same time. Because it’s not closed to just members of the health plan; anybody in the community can go on the walk and get a free t-shirt.”
Jaeger said some participants in the fun walk have returned year after year.
“We have people who show up each year with old t-shirts (from past fun walks) on. This year, we had a (Rugby High School) cross country kid with a t-shirt on from 2008. So, you do see the t-shirts in the community, which is kind of neat.”
Jaeger said beverages, fruit and other light, healthy snacks were served at the end of the course, and every participant finished at his or her own pace.
“We don’t want it to be a race. Some come back fairly quickly and others, well, we stay until the end,” she smiled. “I think the cross country kids did this in about 20 minutes.”
Jaeger said the last participants finished the walk about an hour after it began at 7:00 pm.
Although a smoky haze hung in the sky, the temperature proved “perfect” for the walk, Jaeger said.
“In the past, there’s been concern, because the temperatures can be so hot. But, we have a water stand halfway through the course,” she noted.
Weather hasn’t been a problem for most walks. “We’ve only had two walks in all those years that had to be postponed. That was because of rain. Other than that, it’s worked,” Jaeger indicated.
Jaeger credited the walk’s participants for making it a success.
“I thank everyone for attending, because without them, we wouldn’t have this,” she noted.
Family proved to be a help, too one daughter, Cassandra, who lives in Fargo, was “present” in the form of a photo on a cardboard cutout made by her sister. Jaeger’s husband, Don, son Derek and daughter Jessica joined in the fun, too.
“As our daughter Jessie put on her Facebook page: “Mom had her 33rd Annual Fun Walk tonight. Ever since we were old enough to walk, us kids have been roped into helping. Even though our daughter Cassandra is in Fargo now, we made sure she was with us,” Jaeger smiled, pointing to a photo of her family gathered around the cardboard photo.
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