Lately the group has included any combination of Matt Carlson, Chris Conine, Bill Estes, Tim Spires and Matt Ryerson. All of us are training for an upcoming race and attempting to maintain a healthy ritual. Running together we converse about each other’s jobs and families, slowing to a few short phrases as the pace or the heat rises. Running, however, excludes those passing by who are walking to a simple hello or wave.
On a recent Saturday morning, I had completed a run with my compadres, but had some extra time to go a couple more miles. I headed north on the newly paved Tinsley Park trail, to Mohawk Drive and then decided to walk the last mile on the way back. When I did, I rediscovered casual Greenway conversation. One gentleman, Wayne Ridgeway, introduced himself when he recognized me as the writer of this column. He shared how much he appreciates the Greenway. The 80-year-old walks the length of it almost every day, and said, “I plan to be walking it when I am 100.”
A few more feet down the Greenway I ran into a former colleague, Celia Narus, who also said she had been reading this column and had even clipped out a couple of them to save. Both of these conversations reminded me again of what a social experience the Greenway is.
Since Phase 5 has been completed and the Greenway runs for four miles from Willow to Mohawk, I have had more people share stories with me of how it has now become an artery of safe travel between point A and Point B. Chris shared with me how he stopped a friend of his, Jeff Ringer, riding his bike on the Greenway with a wheeled baby carrier attached. Knowing Jeff was a new father, he looked in the carrier expecting to see the baby, but instead found bags filled with merchandise from The Home Depot! Jeff, who lives near the Willow Street entrance of the Greenway, is now able to shop on the other side of town without having to cross a busy street.
A few weeks ago, Bill Estes and his daughter rode by Matt Carlson and me as we were running. Bill, who also lives near the Willow Street entrance, promised his daughter breakfast at IHOP if she completed the eight-mile round trip bike ride … which she did! And then, in a similar story, a friend of mine, David Labine, told me last Sunday at church how he uses the Greenway to shop at the Farmer’s Market on Peerless Road. He slips on his backpack, rides his bike down the new connecting sidewalk off Raider Drive and loads up on the veggies!
One of the more moving stories to me came from Jay Leggett Sr., who told me he began a serious program of walking to stay in shape before the Greenway came in. He was delighted when it was added to our community because it was a safe way to accomplish his exercise regimen. A few years ago his son Chris was killed while serving as a humanitarian worker in Africa. The Greenway played a small part in the processing of Chris’ death as he found solace in the Prayer Garden of the Church of God International Offices, which is connected to the Greenway. A sculpture of a globe entitled “The Great Commission” gave comfort to Jay as he pondered his son’s life.
These are just a few of the “Greenway Stories” that I reminded myself are everywhere, if, just once in a while, I would slow down and walk. What’s your story? Email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.