June 2010 cover SCAN"St. Catherine University St. Catherine University
February 2011
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Walk This Way

The St. Kate's Walkers aim to get fit — and give back.

The St. Kate's Walkers celebrate after a fundraiser at Southdale Mall.
St. Kate's Walkers (from left): Linda Ovadia, Counseling Center (St. Paul) and husband, David; Gaye Sorenson, Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs; Donna Kulakowski, Counseling Center (St. Paul); Jackie Schroeder, Core Curriculum; Kris Schmitz, Switchboard Office

Some were looking for a way to get more exercise. Others wanted to lose a little weight. Still others needed a break from their desks.

The St. Kate's Walkers, a committed group of striders from the St. Catherine University community, have been meeting twice weekly since fall. The group was started by Kris Schmitz '09, the University's switchboard operator, and Becky Robb Hotzler, assistant to the vice president for external relations, along with other colleagues.

No official edict spurred the Walkers' formation; over lunchtime, a few people started taking walks around the neighborhood surrounding the St. Paul campus. The idea caught on.

"We're a grassroots group," Robb Hotzler says. "Some of us had specific wellness goals, and all of us just enjoyed being together."

As the group's popularity grew, organizers decided to turn the energy they'd been building into a benefit for the larger community. They planned to participate in a November fundraiser — the St. Jude's Give Thanks Walk at Southdale Center — and staffed a table on campus to recruit walkers and donations.

At the Southdale event, the St. Kate's Walkers donned purple St. Kate's T-shirts. They were joined by some 20 members of the University's dance team. The walk raised $70,000 for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

Inspired by their success, the Walkers plan to participate in the Autism Society's Steps of Hope event on Sunday, March 6, at Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka.

Robb Hotzler reports that members of the group are thrilled with their accomplishments so far. "This group helps us meet some of our fitness and weight-loss goals," she says. "We feel energized and united. Plus, we're helping others. What could be better than that?" — Andy Steiner

From the Heart