Earlier this year, a new Ambassador-led EverWalk Group was formed in Westchester County New York by Karen Osit, who called her group Westchester Wobbly Walkers.
When Karen wrote about why she started the group on our EverWalk Nation Facebook group page, she was overwhelmed by the positive feedback. Some cheered Karen on, and others told her how much they resonated with her reasons for walking.
Here’s what Karen wrote:
“I became a virtual member of EverWalk Nation before I actually joined a First Saturday walk. I was embarrassed. You see, I am significantly overweight. I say that, only because I hate the word obese, which is the real truth.
“When I walked, everything hurt…my back, my feet, my legs. I had to walk only on paths that had benches so I could stop and rest for a moment. But each day, I walked a little more and a little more with the support and encouragement of my new EverWalk friends. And finally, I joined the First Saturday walk in Central Park!
“Three miles without a bench in sight! I was the last to complete the walk, but I did it!! And then, I did another, and another.
“Each time I did an EverWalk, I noticed that I could not keep up with the rest of the group. There would always be someone who would circle back and join me, but I was always last. You see, weight is not my only issue. I also have a medical condition that requires me to walk slowly and to be mindful of my balance. Even though someone always kindly checked on me, I didn’t love always being last. And yet, being a part of these walks changed my life!
“Eventually it dawned on me…I can’t be the only person who walks a little slower or a little more wobbly but would never have thought to join a walking group. This was a game changer for me and it could be for countless others. And from that, Wobbly Walkers was born. It is my hope that Wobbly Walkers will provide safety, compassion and inclusivity for walkers of every ability!”
Here’s the video of Karen finishing the Central Park EverWalk!
Gabriella Greco is also an EverWalk Ambassador. Gaby grew up with Cerebral Palsy as was told “walking would not come easy, if at all…EverWalk has helped me to fully embrace the one thing I so desperately tried to hide. Now, I’ve got 100 plus miles to my name. The unwavering love and support from Diana and Bonnie has reminded me of what I already knew back then: I can. I will. I did. I will continue to.” It’s not just Gaby’s story that inspires so many, but her effervescent joy and enthusiasm and love for life — as she connects with EverWalkers from all over the country.
Gaby met another new Ambassador, Red DeBord, through the Virtual EverWalk group that Red created to help her get up and out during the late winter as the pandemic hit. Together they and a wonderful group of walkers cheer each other on by walking and talking together online.
Based out of Ohio, Red describes how EverWalk has inspired her during these challenging times: “I may be physically healthy, but I battle some mean internal demons from past abuse. I have been diagnosed with all sorts of mental illnesses.” As her virtual EverWalking raised her spirits, she decided to use it to inspire her to continue her goal of climbing all 50 of the highest points in each state.
Last week Red finished an eight-day road trip of hiking five state high points. Her elation is palpable: “Oh man…I needed that! I didn’t watch a minute of TV, I was sleeping better and waking up early and all because I was out in nature doing what I love! Hiking. When I did a 7 mile hike on Eagle Mountain, it was drizzling the entire time and the bugs were so relentless that I had to wear mosquito netting, but I had the best time! I felt so strong mentally and physically. I flew up that mountain so fast because I thought it might rain harder. It never got worst than a drizzle, but I felt so great from pushing and challenging myself! I didn’t have time to overthink things or to be depressed or too anxious that I was alone… enjoyed it. It was scary at times, but I did it! I sleep better and get out of my head when I push myself like this and I just need to do it.”
Also in Ohio, Rachel Hollander has just begun walking again. She writes, “I used to walk a lot. Back before the pain started. Before it became too much for me to manage. I had an excellent excuse to surrender to the pain and the walking stopped. Then, I got a dog! A new excuse to begin trying to walk again. Maddie gets me up and out of bed (or off the couch) and makes walking an adventure, filled with possibility. She’s also got the sweetest little trot, it always brings a smile.
“But swimming is the summer activity that I look forward to the most. I can swim a mile (or more) every day and feel strong and healthy. When the pool closed this summer due to the pandemic, I was devastated. But instead of totally giving up, I discovered a supplement that has been nothing short of miraculous, and has made it possible for me to walk like I haven’t in years. To walk without pain, with strength, with – dare I say it – pure joy.
“What I like most about the EverWalk community is that it isn’t filled with ‘just healthy’ people. There are walkers of every level of ability, from those who can do the Epic Walks to those – like me – who consider a walk around the block an accomplishment to be celebrated.”
Some of our EverWalkers have been lifelong walkers, like Kiril Kundurazieff in Houston and Caesar Russell in Arizona. Both of these men have been recuperating from surgeries and walking has been an integral part of that.
Kiril writes: “I walk everywhere. I have done so all my 60-year life. I don’t drive. Walking helped make me the opinionated, creative, writer & photographer I have become the last 20 years.
“After being recently sidelined me for over 2 months, I found support in EverWalk Nation, which is made up of people from all walks of life, and many different interests. The support & encouragement of many EverWalkers inspired me, during my recovery, to take the steps. First using a walker, then without, every day, toward being able to not just walk a mile to my local market & Walmart. But to return to longer walks, & to the regular 10K (6.2 mile) explorations I take as a Volkssporter. Someday, somehow, I hope to join one of the annual Epic Walks.”
So, too, Joan Tierney in Seattle has found support and encouragement in our EverWalk Nation. As she writes, “I have walked back to wellness after three cancer surgeries, chemo, an auto immune disease, prediabetes, nine eye surgeries, and lymphedema.
“My oncologist prescribed walking, so at six weeks post op I began walking my ‘5K per month’ journey. A few years later that needed a boost when another lesion found in 2013 and glaucoma surgeries (9) led to a sidelining of my walking goals. Then I discovered EverWalk and became re-energized, based on Diana’s incredible journey. After walking virtually on the NE Epic walk, I learned Epic would be in the Pacific Northwest. So fate would have it, eye surgery, malignant eye, and legal blindness left me a Day Tripper, but thrilled to be welcomed by these amazing Epic walkers.
“More recently I have become an Ambassador with my daughter Michele. Now that I have doing the EverWalkMile each day, my lymphedema and pre diabetes is under control, I lost 17 pounds, and my central vision had improved. All due to walking.
“During the pandemic, I have been offering virtual walks, recruiting new EverWalkers, and speaking about walking to wellness at A Cancer Survivor Event. We walk 1-4 miles every day and my pre diabetes, Hashimotos Disease, and lymphedema are under control, but most of all my central vision has improved, unheard of with glaucoma.
“I am living proof that walking is an essential part of an anti inflammatory, immunity boosting lifestyle.”
We hope these stories from our EverWalk Nation will inspire others who would love to have a supportive community on their healing journey — as they walk to wellness. For, as Karen Osit has learned: “Walking benefits everyone and no one should ever feel that being part of a walking group is not for them. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far… it only matters that you do it!”
To that we shout out a huge EverWalk ONWARD!!