Our burgeoning EverWalk Ambassador program is the heart and soul of our EverWalkNation.
As EverWalk Founder Diana Nyad says: “Every successful movement catches fire beyond its original founders. Bonnie and I had the first vision: A nation that walks everywhere. People always come back from vacations in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and say they walked miles and miles every day, but then we don’t tend to walk at all while here at home. EverWalk wants to flip that scenario. But it’s our Ambassadors, representing our passion far and wide, who are going to rise us up from a small wave to a tsunami of a national walking movement.”
The EverWalk Ambassador program began in late 2018, with a growing cadre of Ambassadors leading walks on the First Saturdays of each month in their respective communities, from South Orange, New Jersey, to Naples, Florida, to Reno, Nevada, to Seattle, Washington.
Now in our second year, with partnerships with AARP and United HealthCare, expanding our Ambassador program around the country and growing our walks is EverWalk‘s top priority. To that end, this website will soon feature an Ambassador Resource Center, a social network where all groups will have their own online area to connect and chat and plan, and much more!
So, as we begin to implement and facilitate this exciting growth, we asked some of our EverWalkAmbassadors to share their tips and tales from the road. If you are already an Ambassador, we hope this blog gives you ideas and inspiration. And if you’re thinking of becoming an Ambassador, we hope that you’ll enjoy reading this so much that you’ll want to become an EverWalk Ambassador.
Barbara Wells was one of the first people to sign up as an Ambassador. She shares what prompted her to volunteer to lead an EverWalk group: “I had just moved to a new place, and knew absolutely nobody. Being an Ambassador has allowed me to not only meet new people, but has allowed the new people to meet each other! In this part of Florida, many folks are here seasonally or are newly transplanted northerners, so its a great way for new arrivals to make friends. We generally do our First Saturday walks at the same park and we’re lucky to see a lot of gorgeous wildlife. This weekend we were lucky enough to find a bald eagle nest with the mama and the babies in it. But our favorite buddy is “Everbite” our gator mascot, whom we see about every other time we walk. And not being as nearly as brave as our fearless leader Diana Nyad, we do not head into the water!”
Barbara wholeheartedly recommends becoming an Ambassador — even (maybe especially) if you don’t know anyone in your community who loves to walk: “If you do not know a lot of folks, don’t let that stop you from being an Ambassador, its a lot of fun, and you can meet a lot of great people (and gators) along the way!”
Denver resident Erika Taylor has also thrown herself into this endeavor with huge enthusiasm. Erika says: “The most fun thing for me about being an EverWalk Ambassador is that 3 times a week and the first Saturday of every month – I get to host a party. And I don’t have to clean my house or cook a thing!”
Erika has created a “crew of regulars who I cherish including my family, folks whose kids go to school with mine, neighbors, local business people and coworkers. And I also get a huge charge form the unexpected guests who turn up: Old friends from high school, roommates from college who happen to be in town, my brother from LA, family friends from Idaho, a doctor from Mongolia, clients I’d only met online before, local elected officials, residents of nearby senior assisted living apartments, my pastor, people I met in the grocery store, the owner of the local liquor store and a trio of women from Iowa we met walking at another park… All of these fabulous folks have now walked with us around our beautiful local lake.”
Erika signed the EverWalk pledge and annoucened her regular Monday, Wednesday, Friday Accountability Crew on July 29th. Since then, Erika is proud to say, “We haven’t missed a walk (meaning at least one of us walked MWF and took a photo) in 32 weeks. This Wednesday will be 100 walks! If that isn’t a pretty fabulous party, I don’t know what is!”
Ambassador Sally Mistretta is incredibly excited about the success of EverWalk in Fresno and Clovis, California! She writes in: “We have been averaging 14 EVERWALKERS a month! We choose a different adventure each month. We’ve walked the river bottom of the San Joaquin River, Dry Creek Trail to Downtown Clovis, Christmas Tree Lane, which has been decorating the Historic homes for 97 years. A highlight was the first Saturday in January. We had a beautiful sunny day with warm weather as we walked the campus of California State University, Fresno.”
Sally reminds us that even seemingly minor things become cause for celebration for EverWalkers: “We even found the Student Union open! BATHROOMS!!!”
Gale Smart, one of our Washington state Ambassadors, shares this fun story about being an EverWalker: “I’m at the dentist getting my teethe cleaned and my hygienist asks “You’re a walker, right?” I nod in acknowledgment. She said that another hygienist in the office saw my name on the schedule; and said she recently friended me on FB; noting she never friends people she doesn’t know; but she saw my postings about our local Everwalk group; and saw all the folks questions and my responses. One particular response to someone who was afraid she couldn’t keep up made her feel like I was “so nice” because I said I’d hang with that person and walk her back to her car at anytime she was ready. The hygienist asked to meet me. Point being we can all connect on many levels…walking kindly?
Gale also shares this tip for Ambassadors: “My best advice (especially for those who walk in colder windy climates) when posting/sharing the time of your walk, make sure you give family and friends who are chronically late an arrival time that is 30 minutes earlier than the actual time? I’m serious!”
As we hope you can see, being an Ambassador is a whole lot of fun! It’s a great way to meet people, to connect with your community and with our planet, to facilitate joy.
For all of you who are already Ambassadors, if you want to send in your tips and tales, please email EVERWALKOUTREACH (click on the link) and send ’em in for a future post.
For any of you wanting to become Ambassadors, please email EVERWALKAMBASSADORS (click on the link) to get info or set up a time to chat.
And mostly: Thank you to our EverWalk Nation and all our Ambassadors for spreading the EverWalk Vision far and wide!
A BIG THANK YOU TO LAURA PETERSEN FOR GATHERING ALL OF THESE TIPS & TALES — AND TO GALE SMART, SALLY MISTRETTA, ERIKA TAYLOR AND BARBARA WELLS FOR SENDING THEM! YOU ROCK!