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Senior residents join forces to walk across America

Aug 31, 2017 04:11PM ● Published by Jana Klopsch

Juan Adorno, 70, and Mary Mitchell, 78, walked a combined 470 miles during a 90-day contest. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

Gallery: Walking Across America [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Carl Fauver | carlf@mycityjournals.com

Don’t tell these seniors they can’t accomplish anything they set their minds (and feet) to.

Over the years, we’ve heard of people occasionally walking across all of America — coast to coast — normally to raise money and awareness for a particular cause.

But have you heard of a senior citizen doing it?

Actually, a team of seniors — about 40 residents at Summit Senior Living — joined forces to walk a total of 3,400 miles, over a three-month period, this spring.

In case you need help with the math, the distance from Seattle to Miami is 3,297 miles; from San Diego to Bangor, Maine, is 3,270 miles. Residents of the farthest western senior center in the Salt Lake Valley accomplished their goal, figuratively, with more than 100 miles to spare.

“We have a very active population here, and they wanted a challenge,” said Summit Sales and Marketing Director Nichole Cook. “So we posted a big United States map in our game room and tracked our residents’ progress with stick pins and yarn to mark the imaginary path.”

Summit’s Life Enrichment Director Alexis Mackay tracked the mileage.

“We gave them pedometers to count their steps,” she said. “Even several of our residents who spend most of their time in wheelchairs joined in.”

Summit Senior Living undertook the competition to help mark the one-year anniversary since opening its doors, just west of Taylorsville at 5524 West 6200 South. 

“These seniors can get pretty competitive too,” Mackay added. “Every time they went anywhere (during the 90-day contest) they always made sure to have their pedometers with them. Most of them walked a lot more than they normally would. And some left our center to walk to nearby stores and other businesses, just to add to their count.”

Once all the mileage had been logged, the top male and female walkers were honored. Juan Adorno, 70, logged 220 miles to lead the men. But Mary Mitchell, 78, beat him by 10 miles, totaling 230.

“I’ve always liked to walk,” Mitchell said. “So when I heard about the walk across America, I was all in.”

Besides, she said it was easy since her magical grandson made her much younger.

“On my 52nd birthday he told me, ‘Grandma, I’m going to reverse those two numbers — turn 52 into 25 — and that’s how old you will be, forever,” she said. “I guess it must have worked, because that’s a lot of miles (to walk).”

As for Adorno, he said, “I tried to do most of my walking outside, and I never went anywhere without my step counter.”

The walk across America contest was such a success, Mackay said it will undoubtedly now become an annual activity.

Another activity Summit Senior Living likes to host are vintage car shows.

“Our residents enjoy seeing the vehicles that were popular in their younger days,” Summit Executive Director Jim Scadlock said. “This is just a wonderful community of people, and we enjoy hosting activities they will enjoy.”

When she’s not doing all her walking, Mitchell also enjoys the many craft making activities available at the living center and enjoys playing her organ in her apartment.

Construction of Summit Senior Living began in April 2015, with the site opening in June 2016.

“After one year, we are ahead of our initial occupancy goals,” Scadlock added. “We had hoped to have half of our 111 rooms filled by this time, but we are over that.”

As of July, 65 residents were living in 61 rooms, including four married couples.

“We have something for anyone,” Cook said. “Our units have 44 different floor plans, and each includes a kitchenette with a refrigerator and microwave oven.”

But as nice as the rooms are, Summit Senior Living staff members do all they can to provide activities to get residents out of their rooms. They said that’s part of the reason why they were so excited to see the residents’ respond to the walk across America.

“I’ve lived here since very soon after it opened,” Adorno added. “I like it here, and I’ll be ready to walk again next year.”  

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