Walking Around Altru, Greater Grand Forks and the World

In 2012, Quebec native Jean Béliveau finished his mission to walk around the world, 11 years after he started. For Béliveau, walking around the world started as a question and turned into a journey of discovery.

Although Altru employees aren’t literally walking around the world, they are well on their way to walking the earth’s circumference: 24,901 miles. As of March 6, 2015, Altru employees have logged over 14,111.67 miles of exercise through the Healthy Choices Greater Grand Forks Walking Challenge. That’s over half the distance around earth!

Walking Challenge

Meet the Altru Walkers

Dianne Vold | Prevent Diabetes
Dianne Vold, of Altru’s Research Center, grew up in a generation when people didn’t go to the gym. She considers herself in the “learning phase,” still figuring out how to incorporate exercise into her lifestyle.

She’s joined the walking challenge to prevent the strong history of diabetes in her family. She de-stresses at the gym, where she weight-trains and walks on the treadmill.

Gym time is “me time,” she explains. “I’m not going to quit. It’s the first time I can say, ‘I’m doing it for me.’”

Dianne is excited for the weather to get nicer so she can bike and walk outside.

Nicole Benson | Leading by Example
Nicole Benson, administrative assistant, sometimes spends more time at her desk than she’d like. She exercises to stay on top of her mental health. Nicole spends time with her husband and son by playing basketball, golfing and riding bike. She looks forward to the day when her one-year-old daughter, Blake, will join them.

“I want to lead by example. I want my kids to see we can exercise together.”

Nicole loves running because it allows her to catch up with her good friend, Nikki. Early morning runs allow her to take in the beauty of the Greater Grand Forks Greenway. She loves the way she feels after a challenging workout.

Nicole Collage

Art Culver | Get Back in Shape
Art Culver, manager of Altru’s Ambulance Services, uses the walking challenge as a tool to get back in shape. Over the last few years, he’s noticed his life has been sedentary. Starting in December, he downloaded the Pedometer++ app and began tracking his miles. Before the challenge, Art walked an average of 1.5 miles per day. Now he averages 3.8 miles daily.

Several times during his work day, he walks to the end of the Valley Eldercare hallway and back.

“I like tracking miles.” He looks at the weekly mileage and likes to estimate how many of those miles he walked.

Since Art began walking, he has noticed it’s become easier. At times walking brings its challenges. Last week Art returned from a mission trip to Honduras with Calvary Lutheran Church.

One morning began at 4 a.m., when Art and his team members climbed 2.2 miles to the top of El Triunfo de la Cruz. “Honestly, I was exhausted. The climb was rocky and straight up.” Despite his weariness, Art was pleased to be able to do it, and to log 6.8 total miles that day.

Art's Selfie

Art has noticed other changes in his habits. “I don’t take the elevators anymore, even if I’m going to the fifth floor.”

At times, Art still eats junk food, but he sets limits. Art has lost six pounds since January and is looking forward to spring when he can walk with his dog, Macy.

Walking may seem like a small change, but for Art it’s made a lot of difference.

Jennifer Neis | Time in the Outdoors with Baxter
Jennifer Neis, website coordinator, exercises for a number of reasons. First, it gives her time with her dog, Baxter. Being a lover of warm weather, walking and biking allows her to spend time in nature. It clears her mind, burns calories and gives her the “me” time she needs. “Feeling good and sleeping well keeps me motivated,” she says.


Chris Waind | Social Time
Altru orderly, Chris Waind, is a social guy. He views exercise as a way to interact with others, even if that means friendly competition. He enjoys racquetball, swimming, biking, hockey and kayaking.

“Competition keeps exercise fun.”

Katie Torkelson | Incorporating Exercise into the Day
Katie Torkelson isn’t a huge fan of working out. This year she decided to make small changes, incorporating exercise into her everyday life. As an IV resource nurse, she visits different areas of the health system assessing patients. She now takes the stairs rather than the elevator.

“Climbing five flights of stairs sure gets my heart racing. It’s gotten easier week by week.”

Katie also parks far away from entrances, which forces her to walk.

“It’s an easy way to get exercise without thinking about it. If I can do it (exercise) without trying, that works better!”

While recovering from a back injury, Katie explains, “Walking is exercise I can easily do without worrying about reinjuring anything or overdoing it.”

Jana Sherry | Walking is a Gift
Jana Sherry walks because she can. In her role as a diabetes educator, she sees patients struggling with walking. This reminds her how the ability to walk is a gift and one she doesn’t take for granted.

Jana has a long history of back problems, which she says is her biggest motivator.

“I need to keep moving or the problems will get worse,” Jana says. “Any movement is better than nothing.”

Lola, Harley and Jana

You don’t have to climb a mountain or run a marathon. You do have to make a choice; a choice to take steps to a healthier lifestyle.

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