Wichita Running and Walking Program

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            Wichita Walking and Running Club Promotes Healthy Community

(Originally published in December 2017 edition of Wichita Tribal News)

Running Club 8.12.17

Many find it best to have a support system when trying to stay in shape. What if that support system has over 200 people with the same goal? This is what the Wichita Walking and Running Program provides for not only the Wichita people but also the surrounding community.


Commonly known as the "Wichita Running Club" or "Wichita Walking Club," the organization is a large component of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes Special Diabetes Program for Indians grant. It is also free to join, with the program also paying for registration fees when applicable.


Now in its third year, the Wichita Walking and Running Program sponsors an average of 16 events annually, with at least two per month from March through August. Some of these running and walking days coincide with weekend events such as the Stephenson Family Powwow or the Wichita Annual Dance. Other events may include the City of Anadarko, Okla. Police Department's "Cops for Kids" or the Anadarko Indian Health Center 5K run and one-mile walk.


"Our main goal is to increase physical activity, which improves overall health," said Robin White, the Special Diabetes Program Director. "We try to make it a family environment, to keep families active together. The only way to change youth behavior is to include the whole family."


One of the members of the program is Louisa Riffel, who works as the Wichita Tribe's Education Secretary and JOM Tutor. Riffel joined early in the program's creation. As a walker, Riffel has participated in at least a dozen events.


"I feel more energized after I do a walk," Riffel said, and also said she is "thankful for such a good program."


Another member of the Wichita Walking and Running Program is the Wichita Tribes' Juvenile Services Director, Mandy Tackett. A member for at least one year, Tackett's reasons for joining include "improved cardio endurance," she said, and has attended six events so far. For Tackett, joining the program can be summed up in one word: "Accountability."


"Sometimes, it is hard to make yourself get up on a Saturday or Sunday morning for a run," Tackett said. "When you are part of a running club, you know you have the other members expecting you to show up."


A more recent member of the program is the Wichita Department of Environment Programs' Water Technician, Corey Reeder. Reeder joined shortly before the AutismOklahoma PieceWalk on May 6, 2017. Since then, he has made the program's events a part of his regular exercise routine of training for fancy dance competitions and overall health. Reeder said the Running Club events are "a good atmosphere."


"People are smiling," Reeder said. "Even the walkers are smiling. You meet so many new people."


Reeder also said that running, for him, is prayer.


"The way we were taught-it's good to say 'I'm going to pray for you.' But you also need to suffer for people, like fasting. You suffer a little bit, and you give that power to them. That's how I feel when I run."


The most recent event for the Wichita Running and Walking Program was the "Frost Your Fanny" event that took place on the evening of December 2, 2017, at Elmer Thomas Park in Lawton. Club members did well at the event, with Randilyn Holder awarded second place overall in the one mile; Audrey Poolaw getting second overall female in the 5K; and Catherine Lee as a 5K senior participant.


As to why people should join the Wichita Running and Walking Program, the reasons include "health, recreation and socialization," according to Riffel, "being with good friends and just plain ol' fun."