Parishes continue fitness challenge


By Anne Marie Amacher

Frank Becker won the grand prize at Our Lady of Lourdes walking challenge last year. He logged 1,792,613 steps — or 896 miles.

The second annual “Walking with Jesus” program has Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf engaged in friendly competition with Holy Family Parish in Davenport.
The walking and activity program uses pedometers to gauge participants’ steps each week, and also encourages healthier eating, said Cathy Thennes, parish nurse at Lourdes. That parish has had a walking program for seven years.
This year’s summer-long challenge takes place May 25 to Aug. 17 and is open to all ages.
Mary Fritch, parish nurse at Holy Family, said the program provides an opportunity for parishioners to challenge each other weekly in their fitness efforts.
Biking, swimming, running, mowing the lawn and other activities are included in the program, with a conversion chart helping participants calculate number of steps so everyone can participate based on their individual interests.  Participants also keep track of their intake of fruits and vegetables as a part of the national program to improve dietary habits.
“The walking challenge has provided a great way for our parishioners to chart their weekly totals on our board and compare their progress with their friends and with the totals from Our Lady of Lourdes walkers.  We are encouraged by our efforts and continue to improve our activity levels throughout the summer,” Fritch says.
“We would love to have other parishes join us,” Thennes said. “We encourage participants to increase the fruits and vegetables they eat each week.  It is amazing how some realize how little they eat in those food groups.  By increasing servings they can drop a few pounds over the summer.”
Both parishes charge a nominal registration fee to provide funds for prizes at each parish for categories of men, women and children.
Kent Ferris, director of social action for the Diocese of Davenport, said the Walk with Jesus program is “a great example of the programs offered by parish nurses in the diocese. These programs can be valuable to any parish with health ministry efforts, independent of whether they presently have a parish nurse.”
If a parish doesn’t have a parish nurse, Fritch said, members who are interested in improving the health of their parishioners could introduce this challenge to the pastor and parish council.  “This would be a great way to initiate a small committee that would take on this fun project.”
Thennes said if any parish wants to join their challenge, she can provide the necessary program material.
For more information, contact Thennes at (563) 359-0345 or by email at; or Fritch at (563) 322-0901 or

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