Seniors celebrate 4,000-mile cross-country' walking trip

PLATTSBURGH When residents at Lake Forest Senior Living Community go for a walk, they really go for a walk 4,000 miles, to be exact. Approximately 30 residents recently took part in a challenge to walk across the United States, all from the comfort of their own home. How? Residents walked in and around the independent living facility the distance of actual locations around the country, starting with Times Square in New York City. We had a huge mural map on the wall with Au Sable Forks, Glens Falls, the Hudson Valley and they made it, said Lake Forest executive director Carmen L. Carpentier. It was a cake walk to get to Times Square. So, then we asked, Where next? Some residents said Florida, but Carpentier thought that was too close. She suggested Malibu, Calif. The residents agreed on the state, but thought Beverly Hills was more their style, so they could have the chance to shop on Rodeo Drive. The imaginative concept came about a year ago, when the residents first began the program. They walked week by week, adding their cumulative mileage, bringing them closer to their destinations, which were roughly 300 miles at a time. Carpentier said the idea was to have small challenges using attractions like the Grand Canyon as motivation. It gave them something to talk about, and whether they had walking devices, canes or were even legally blind, it didnt matter because they could see themselves actually there," said Carpentier. Its been a lot of celebrating little steps along the way." As the residents walked the distance to Chicago, they stopped to celebrate with Chicago-style pizza. When the reached Des Moines, Iowa, they celebrated with a tea sponsored by one of the residents who calls Des Moines her hometown. As they reached the Rocky Mountain state, they stopped in Denver for steaks. And, when the seniors hit Las Vegas, they partied, though Carpentier jokingly said she couldnt go into detail. After all, they say what happen in Vegas, stays in Vegas, she said with a laugh. From there, they made their way to Beverly Hills and eventually did end up going to Malibu for some time on the beach, said Carpentier. They even imagined themselves in sunny Palm Springs. The beginning of their journey back from the Pacific Coast was marked with a special, scenic train ride a real train ride from Plattsburgh to Westport April 25, and a reception back at Lake Forest. It was a great trip," said Sylvia Brown, who participated in the challenge with her husband, Pete Brown. The whole climax of the train ride was fantastic." Sylvia Brown said she and her husband have always walked several miles a day," but admitted the challenge filled with fantastic stops along the way made for real fun. Ninety-eight-year-old Emma Dean, Lake Forests eldest participant in the challenge, also appreciated the originality of the program. Dean has walked for recreation most of her life, dating back to her younger years living in Fort Worth, Tx. My husband worked for an oil company and was gone all week so I walked a lot, she said. I think this a good program. Ive never been in one like this before, she added. Im really enjoying it. People asked me if our residents have lost weight and the point was not to lose weight," said Carpentier. The point was to keep cardiac function going, mobility, balance, agility and, as a group effort, to just stay fit. While the program only involved 30 of the 78 Lake Forest residents, its her hope the innovative ways the group marks their milestones may be enough to encourage more to participate as the journey continues, said Carpentier. As for their next destination, the seniors will likely stop at Disneyland in Anaheim and the San Diego Zoo while in California," said Carpentier. Other stops on their way back will include Deans house in Texas and the former home of another resident in Alabama, which is now a bed and breakfast. Maybe theyll let us stay the night, Carpentier said. We might even go to Europe next, who knows? Yeah, but I dont know if youd want to walk there, Pete Brown said jokingly.

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