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Swift Walkers go for gold

Amid a singing sea of orange, a child in regular school clothes rises and walks to receive his prize; as he makes his way back to his position in the crowd, he pulls on his new orange t-shirt over his face, where a broad smile appears.

It’s another regular Friday morning at the “Community Sing” held by the Swift River School in New Salem, Mass.

The 100 Mile Club at the Swift River School boasts nearly 100 members

Since 2013, the elementary school’s 150 students, from preschool to sixth grade, have been signing up to join the 100 Mile Club and walking and running tens – and even hundreds – of miles together. At 25 miles, the students receive an orange t-shirt, as well as a pencil at 50 miles, a bracelet at 75 miles, and a gold medal at 100 miles.

“It’s so much fun!” says Nan Mead, school nurse. “I wasn’t a runner before this. Now I can’t imagine not doing it.”

The 100 Mile Club, a nonprofit, originated in a West Coast classroom in the early 1990s with the creative idea of Special Education Specialist, Kara Lubin. Hoping to burn off some of her students’ energy and inspired by that year’s Olympics, she challenged the kids to walk 100 miles for an award. The membership just recently spread to the East Coast.

The Swift River School’s 100 Mile Club is 90 members strong in its second year. “We have whole families joining us,” says Mead.

Kids participate as a social activity and for community service

The focus on the club is to encourage kids not just to walk or run for exercise, but to participate as a social activity – as well as community service – which is why making a walk team for LifePath's 2014 Meals on Wheels Walkathon made so much sense.

Photo by Cory SewardPhoto by Cory Seward.
Swift Walker and Swift River School Nurse, Nan Mead, accompanies her costumed son, Thor, while he "swims" around the Franklin County Technical School track at the 2014 Meals on Wheels Walkathon.
“It’s such a good cause, and I think that people realize that,” says Mead, especially those team members with parents and grandparents who receive Meals on Wheels.

The team, called the “Swift Walkers,” walked 7 miles in 4 hours and raised $525 for Meals on Wheels. Because of their dedication to the program, LifePath awarded them the “Outstanding New Walk Team” prize.

“It was a really fun event,” says Mead, recalling the dancers, dogs, and music that made the day extra-special, as well as running into and socializing with people she knew. “The atmosphere was great.”

“For some of us, it was our first year doing it, and we were impressed and inspired. It made us say, ‘We’re coming back next year,’” says Mead. “We’re working on building a bigger and better team this year.”

Join the Swift Walkers for the 2015 Meals on Wheels Walkathon

Will you join the Swift Walkers at the 2015 Meals on Wheels Walkathon on Saturday, May 2? The fun begins at 8am at the Franklin County Technical School in Turners Falls.

To schools who want to join the 100 Mile Club, Mead has this advice: “You have to have people willing to put in the time – a core group who wants to do it.” Learn more about registering your school at