Good morning! Hope you packed a lunch. Did you have a good New Year’s? My wife, Kristin, the kids and I were fortunate to visit with my in-laws over winter break.
They spend seven months in SW Florida and over the years, Kristin and I have a favorite path at Eagle Lakes Park– thank you Collier County Parks and Rec.
We’ve shared many loops with fantastic wildlife – scarlet ibis, spoonbills, wood storks, bobcats, gators, panthers and I’m sure a whole lot of snakes and other critters that we haven’t seen.
Last Thursday’s loops started out just as rewarding as our previous outings. We shook our heads as we saw one determined walker and runner after another in full sweatsuits with their hoodie pulled up in the 70 degree weather.
Every one of them smiling ear to ear as they wished us good morning. I guess our bodies do acclimatize.
“Let’s go right at the next loop and get some water.” I’m looking at the 4700 steps on my FitBit when from the west parking lot, 100-110 yards away, I hear someone scream. She is dressed in the hottest pink you’ve ever seen. Looking down at a yellow index card she does a couple bunny hops and then gives her walking partner a huge hug. A hug so voracious, the orchid tucked behind her left ear fell out; she rapidly bent down to pick it up and place it back on her ear. Kristin looked up from the fountain and wiping water from her chin, couldn’t help but laugh. I turned down Coldplay so I could hear what she was going to say. “How cute! I wonder what’s going on over there?” We could see about 8-10 other park visitors waiting for cards from a woman in a flowery summer dress. She was standing up on a 2 foot platform.
We wanted to get 5 miles in this am and we were now ready to head off, glad we have sunglasses as we head towards the sun starting to peak over the date palm trees.Hymn for the Weekend
is now on – my finger on the volume button for when we get passed or pass others. The second half seems easier than the first half – which itself was pretty enjoyable. Typically, we’d make our way back to her parents but we both have too much curiosity and we head to the woman in the flowery dress..
It’s a party in the parking lot – nothing less. There are now easily several dozen people and everyone is either happy for themselves, someone else or both. I can’t take it anymore and I walk up to the card distributor. “Looks like you guys are having fun. We’re from Ohio and I’m so curious? What is going on?!.”
“No problem at all. This is a program called Walk with a Doc, ironically it was started by a cardiologist in Ohio. Everybody meets here on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
and we have a blast.”
That’s funny, but I still don’t know what she’s doing.
“WOW!” I say “That sounds like the most amazing program ever created. That cardiologist – man or woman?”
“Pretty sure it’s a guy”
“Well he must have a wife with the patience of Job and the beauty of Aphrodite.” Krissy kicks my right ankle hard enough that it left a red mark for over 2 days.
“What’s up with the index cards?” She must be onto something.
“Yeah, that’s one of the really cool things about our Walk with a Doc chapter. In our Eagle Lakes Walk family we have a population health statistician, a geneticist, an actuary and a coder. They get together at 9:25 am every walk day, collect our guests’ step counts and enter them into the coolest program ever developed.”
“I thought you said WWAD was the coolest program ever?”
“David let her finish!” Good, Krissy must not feel bad about breaking my ankle.
The host continues, ”You know walking or running is the miracle drug. It prevents or treats of dozens of health problems all over the spectrum. The Walk team even puts out a newsletter once a year highlighting 100 Reasons to Walk. Anyway, our registered walkers plug this into our MacBook Pro that gives our guests that information – if they want to know. Some days people only get a blank card but, I have to say, most days our people that have covered 150 minutes for the week – get something priceless. 10 minutes ago I was able to tell a 64 year old man that he would never get Alzheimer’s – his dad had it. A half hour ago I was honored to tell a woman in remission from breast cancer in 2012 something mind-blowing. If she continues to walk 150 minutes a week it will never come back. Ever. She and her husband were so happy – can you imagine. I was able to tell the same woman a year and a half ago that she would never have a heart attack or a stroke.” Krissy jumps in, “So, by looking at only a saliva sample of our DNA and our steps you are able to accurately predict disease?” “That’s right. The greatest thing is that every single one of our 150 minute/week walkers have cards. Mike Slaybaugh has been walking with us for less than 2 years – he has 23 cards.”
It makes total sense, in an AI kind of way. We have to step aside as a trio of Starbucks employees are patiently waiting for their cards. “Jordan– not today; Maddie – you my friend have extended your life long enough to celebrate your 70th anniversary with your future husband (Maddie is 20). Isabella – nothing today. See you on Saturday”
Isabella puts her arm around Maddie as they walk away, Maddie can’t stop smiling. The host turns back to us,
“This lottery doesn’t cost a thing and the prizes are obviously better than any amount of cash. These miracles are happening at every park all over the world, it’s just our team has found a unique way to calculate it and give immediate feedback.”
Krissy is speechless, “This is unbelievable. I mean this is just… There’s only one question?
Our host smiles knowingly as she looks at my wife, “Why doesn’t everyone do Walk with a Doc, right?”
“That’s the only thing we haven’t been able to figure out yet. We know they will, somethings just take a little time.”