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Gordon Edwards setting the bar for Walk Cabarrus participants at young age of 86
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Gordon Edwards setting the bar for Walk Cabarrus participants at young age of 86

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CABARRUS COUNTY — Gordon Edwards isn’t making any excuses.

The 86-year-old former member of the Marine Corps Reserve and P.E. instructor at the Charlotte Fire Department is setting an example for everyone out there who might not have a lot of motivation to be active.

Edwards, who is a nationally recognized track and field coach, and a seven-time triathlon participant, is doing all he can to get out every day — even in the midst of a global pandemic — and get his steps in as part of the community-wide Walk Cabarrus initiative.

The founder of the Charlotte Track Club is getting up every morning and starting his day with a 30-minute walk and finishing it off with another one when it cools off in the evening. That amounts to 2½ miles of walking every day.

Physical activity has always been a big part of Edwards’ life, as he was a member of the swim team at Cortland State Teachers College (now SUNY Cortland) and earned his Ph.D. in physical education from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

There’s not much reason for him to slow down now, and in fact, he’s outpacing many participating in Walk Cabarrus as he sits 30th on the overall leaderboard.

Walk Cabarrus set a goal for the community to reach 1 billion steps by Dec. 31. As of Wednesday at 4:20 p.m., participants had logged 371,597,839.

“Walk Cabarrus gives everyone a chance to get exercise, fresh air, live a healthier lifestyle while contributing to a great community goal,” said Barbi Jones, executive director of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, in an April interview marking the virtual kickoff of the event. “Walking is something everyone can do at their own pace, whenever it’s convenient, and enjoy time with friends and loved ones.”

Walk Cabarrus is presented by the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, and is a healthy walking initiative born out of the Children WIN Steering Committee’s goals in partnership with the ODPHP’s community-based Move Your Way campaign.

Cabarrus County is one of a select few communities chosen to participate in this nationwide pilot test program, whose intention is to promote the recommendations from the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be part of Walk Cabarrus,” said Cannon Ballers General Manager Matt Millward. “With the tough times we are all facing, the campaign is a perfect initiative to bring our community together and help ease the mind with exercise and safe outdoor activity.”

Atrium Health Ballpark is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day for walkers to clock their steps for the initiative.

“The Kannapolis Cannon Ballers are an amazing community partner,” said Charlie Sastoque, NorthEast Foundation president. “The new ownership and management have really embraced this community and its initiatives.

“To have the foresight to put a walking track around their ballfield really showcases how committed they are to the health and well-being of our county. Their presenting sponsorship of Walk Cabarrus will be significant in the combat against childhood obesity and fund essential programs for Children WIN.”

Interested in joining Edwards and the other 1,661 members of the community who have already started? Residents are encouraged to visit www.walkcabarrus.com to create their profile and begin logging steps. Participants can register as well as join groups and track steps collectively.

About Children WINChildhood obesity is an increasing trend in many communities, including Cabarrus County. When the work began, about 34 percent of Cabarrus County residents, ages 0-18, were overweight or obese. Recognizing the potential impact of such a trend, Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast commissioned development of a plan of action to study and make suggestions for changing this trend. With the help of professors from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte College of Health and Human Services Department of Public Health, an action plan was developed and presented that outlined general suggestions for addressing the problem.

About the Office of Disease Prevention and Health PromotionThe Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion plays a vital role in keeping the Nation healthy. ODPHP accomplishes this by setting national health goals and objectives and supporting programs, services, and education activities that improve the health of all Americans. It is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To learn more about ODPHP, visit health.gov.

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