IMS walkers go the distance

By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
Register Reporter

Register/Anne Kazmierczak
Emma Piazza, Trilby Bannister, Kyra Moore and Jo Lohman make a dash for the check point at Carlyle during Saturday morning’s Iola Middle School 10-mile fund raiser walk from Colony to Iola along the Prairie Spirit Trail. After a brief stop for water, the girls continued on for the next five miles.

With recent weather wavering between sunny days in the 70s and blustery rain, no one was sure what to expect Saturday morning when Iola Middle School students ventured forth to walk from Colony to Iola on the Prairie Spirit Trail.
The walk was organized by Principal Jack Stanley as a fund raiser for the school’s social outreach projects.
Students spent last week gathering pledges, promising to walk in return.
Between 60 and 70 students came out on the cool, gray morning to step lively down the trail, Stanley said. A handful of parents and siblings joined the middle-schoolers.
The first group was bussed from Iola’s Cofachique Park to the Colony trailhead around 8:40 a.m. The next bus left Cofachique about half an hour later. By 9:45, all participants were on the trail. The first group started off running, but quickly switched to a steady walk.
Eighth-graders John Hutton and Mason Helman did a little stick fencing along the route. After four miles, Helman said he was tired. He had started at the front of the pack, he said, but now was dead center of the larger group.
Helman normally fixes cars on the weekend with his stepfather Artie Whiles. “But I got out of it to do this,” he said.
“It’s better than doing nothing,” Hutton added. Hutton said he usually spends Saturdays on his family’s farm, in the fields or riding horses “in the arena when its not raining.”
The two finished just before 1 p.m., about four hours after they began.
Sixth-grader Trey Colborn got out of doing something else, too.
“I was gonna ride my bike 20 miles, to Colony and back, but I got grounded,” he said. His mom relented enough to let him walk, “because I already had the pledges.”
The first 30 to 40 walkers strolled into the check station at Carlyle just after 10:30 a.m.
A collective sigh of relief seemed to come from the group as they learned they had already gone 5 miles. Water bottles, a restroom and chairs waited those who needed them.
The Foxy Ladies Meltdown team were in high sprits, declining an offer to set a spell.
“If we stop, we’ll never get up again,” they laughed. Besides, said Kathy Butler, “I’m not tired, my feet just hurt.”
After a quick break, they departed.
Shane Sams dealt with a dilemma many walkers seemed to have. He pulled off his shoes and poured out “a lot of rocks.”
“My feet feel so much better now,” he said.
The next group of walkers sauntered into Carlyle around 11:30.
Emma Piazza, Kyra Moore, Jo Lohman and Trilby Bannister began to run when they saw the check point. After bottles of water and a break, they walked on.
Walkers had varied motivations for participating.
One group of sixth-graders was on the trail because of each other.
“I’m doing it because she’s doing it,” Torrie Lewis said of Emery Driskel. Emery was walking because “I thought it would be good exercise.” Shelby Smith “just felt like it,” she said, and Shane Walden didn’t have a reason.
Camaraderie and technology kept the group in high spirits.
Driscoll was plugged into her purple iPod the whole 10 miles, and Lewis said she’s been texting since the starting line. After six miles, the group was still laughing and joking with one another.
“For the 258th time Shelby,” Walden told his friend, “I’m not going to carry you!”

SIXTH-GRADER Joey Dunlap was walking despite an injured foot. He wanted to win “the iPod — or the shoes” being given away. “Plus,” he said, “I thought I’d find some interesting rocks along the way.”
So far, he found “a dalmation rock — it’s called that because it’s white with black spots,” and a piece of layered sedimentary stone ranging from green to beige. The most interesting rock he’d found, he said, was a “large white crystally rock with some orange in it.” From his pocket, he pulled another curious stone he’d gotten on the trail. It looked like a large piece of candy corn.
Dunlap said he had never walked this far before, though “I walked 5 miles in the Badlands last summer.”
Catrina Dunlap was following her son — in her car — meeting him at every road crossing.
“She just wants to make sure I’m OK,” he said, “’Cause I twisted my ankle the other day, and I have asthma.”
Undaunted, Dunlap finished the walk.

BY THE END, everyone was tired. Weary walkers slumped onto benches, but the students could take pride in their accomplishment. As Stanley told them, “You guys have done something a lot of people have never done — walk from Colony to Iola.”
The tired throng was treated to hot dogs and chips after their 10 mile trek.
An exact total of walkers and the donations they brought in will not be known until later, Stanley said.
Although more kids came to the all-night dances than went on the walk, Stanley said the “the numbers the kids were bringing in were impressive,” for the pledges. The middle school uses the funds to help out needy students with school clothes, supplies and more.
As for next year, Stanley said, “Our plan is, in the fall, to do a bike ride. A lot of kids asked about that. We’ll go from Iola to Colony and back, or maybe to Carlyle and back.”