By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
First there was Shop with a Cop.
Now there’s Walk with a Firefighter.
Walk with a Firefighter starts Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. at Panera Bread, located at 6110 Keizer Station Boulevard in Keizer Station.
The walk is a partnership between the Keizer Fire District and Just Walk Salem. Skye Hibbard-Swanson, Just Walk Salem coordinator, brought up the idea recently at a Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association meeting. Lindsey Walker with Salem Leadership Foundation connected her with Keizer fire chief Jeff Cowan, who in turn connected Hibbard-Swanson with Anne-Marie Storms, Public Education specialist for KFD.
“The goal is to make it a weekly thing, rain or shine,” Storms said. “We’ll be at Panera each Tuesday at 10 a.m. The whole goal is to allow anyone to come. It’s flat and paved. The walk is about two miles total. Wanted to find somewhere safe.”
The walk will go to Kaiser Permanente, follow the pathway down to Starbucks, go to Sleep Country, then go to Lowe’s and behind Staples and Petco before crossing to go behind Target, then concluding back at Panera Bread.
Storms walked the route recently to make sure there was good visibility.
Just Walk Salem is a network of weekly neighborhood walking groups started in 2012 by Salem’s Jennifer Carley with volunteers from the South Salem Neighborhood Association. The idea is to give people regular opportunities to walk and talk with their neighbors, promoting physical activity and community ties.
In collaboration with Oregon State University Extension Service, Just Walk Salem received a grant from Salem Health this year to foster new walking groups in the Salem-Keizer high school feeder areas.
“Not only can Keizer residents take advantage of a free opportunity to improve their health through walking, but they can also learn more about the work of Keizer’s career and volunteer firefighters,” Hibbard-Swanson said.
Storms sees a multitude of potential benefits with the new program.
“We can talk about what’s going on at the fire district and in the city,” she said. “It also gets people out there to walk. It’s the best thing we can do for physical fitness. It’s the best activity on the knees and it’s free.”
Storms is anticipating plenty of interest.
“I think we’ll have a good turnout,” she said. “I’ve talked to a lot of mom groups. People can come and drop in. If they can’t do the full two miles, they can head back. I think we’ll have a good turnout the first week. The question will be when it’s raining. But if we can build some relationships, who cares if it’s raining?”
Just Walk Salem is also planning a winter walk through the Gubser neighborhood to see the Miracle of Christmas lights display which runs Dec. 4 to 27.
For more information on the organization, visit www.justwalksalem.com or call 503-373-3760.