‘Greater Huntington Walks’ to crowdsource community steps

June 29, 2018

HUNTINGTON — A new crowdsourced endeavor to recast the Tri-State in a healthier light will soon hit the streets of Huntington to encourage a more active lifestyle — a counteraction to the common portrayal of the region’s health.

The immediate goal for Greater Huntington Walks is a lofty one — to register enough community-walked miles to stretch to the moon, which is 238,000 miles or approximately 478,000,000 steps, by the end of 2018.

“We’re trying to create a culture of health and wellness,” explained Bradley Burck, vice president of the Cabell Huntington Hospital Foundation, a partner in the project. “Already there’s a stereotype about who we are as West Virginians over the past decade, and that’s not who we are. This campaign gives us an opportunity to say we’re going to do something nobody else in the world has done.”

The program uses Walker Tracker, an online step-counting service, to track and record an individual’s steps throughout the day, which can be done automatically through most smart devices like Fitbits, Apple Watches and iPhones. Analog pedometers may also be used and entered into the database manually online or through a mobile app. The program also counts other physical activities, such as swimming, biking and other athletics, which it converts to steps.

For the community to “walk to the moon” by Dec. 31, approximately 750 participants would have to walk 10,000 steps per day, Burck said. Symbolically reaching the moon is just the short-term goal, he said, as the program eventually sets its sights on 1 million miles walked.

Other community partners are already on board with the walking effort, including Marshall University, Huntington city government, Cabell Huntington Hospital, St. Mary’s Medical Center, HIMG, the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, the Huntington Mall and the Huntington YMCA.

“There really is an opportunity here to go deep and wide with people and really build an army of walkers,” Burck said.

Greater Huntington Walks kicks off July 17 with a community walk through downtown Huntington. The walk begins at 12:15 p.m. at Pullman Square. Other community walks will be scheduled as the season progresses. The program is chaired by Andy Fischer of RBC Wealth Management in Huntington.

Registration as an individual or a group can be made online at GreaterHuntingtonWalks.com.

Follow reporter Bishop Nash on Twitter @BishopNash.