Shortly after 6:00 a.m. on Friday morning, May 9, a large group gathered along the highway at Mile Post 29, east of Aneth, Utah, where the 18th Annual Walking Together for Healthier Nations event was to begin.
Registration tables were set up and volunteers were busy registering those wanting to participate. A group of walkers joined in stretching exercises that helped keep them warm in the brisk morning air. Support vehicles were readied, some participants were still waking up, and others were already in good spirits waiting for the event to start. Shortly after 7:00 a.m., a four-man color guard, carrying the flags of the United States, the Navajo Nation, the State of Utah and a flag remembering our nation's POW's and MIA's that featured the words 'You Are Not Forgotten' led the procession onto the highway and east toward their destination at the state line a few miles away. The group eventually arrived at the Four Corners Monument about eighteen miles away. An escort from the San Juan County Sheriff's Office joined the parade to the state line.
This has become an annual event that means different things to different people, but many of those who participate are dedicated to the idea of event, which is promoting an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits among people of the nation, in a positive manner.
"There were a few people that I talked with during the foot care (portion of the event), that expressed year-ly participation in this event and they challenged themselves to go a little further each year," said Yikanee Sampson, one of the event organizers for Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. "I loved the expression of some of the younger participants (elementary aged) that said, 'My dad was so excited to come this morning, He didn't even give me time to put on my socks!'"
"There was another younger family that came out and said it was their first time. They joined us for three miles. There was plenty of excitement at this event that kept the volunteers motivated to help," Sampson added.
This year's event was a huge success, she added, but it couldn't have happened without the dedicated help of all the cheerful volunteers who helped in all phases of the event, from registering the walkers, to driving the support vehicles, to walking with the event and all other aspects of the event. Thanks for all your time and efforts.