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A large crowd gathered for the first annual Roo Walk

Walk Like a Roo

Roo Walk event promotes fun, fitness

For Cassie Molitoris, finding time to work out is a struggle. As the director of sales for a college athletic department, Molitoris spends much of her time either in meetings, working behind her desk, or overseeing athletic events.

But on one recent sunny afternoon, Molitoris didn’t have trouble scheduling exercise. She joined more than 250 University of Missouri-Kansas City employees who participated in the university’s first annual Roo Walk.  Mile-long walks took place at UMKC’s Volker and Hospital Hill campuses, and brought university employees together in pursuit of wellness.

“Our goal in this walk is to continue to raise awareness and help to create a culture of wellness at UMKC,” Carol Hintz, associate vice chancellor of human resources, said. “We’re hoping this day of camaraderie encourages employees to continue getting healthy and fit.”

It’s no surprise that the walk around campus was markedly more jovial than any mile on a treadmill. As the event kicked off, coworkers chatted over the beat of high-energy music. Nearby, healthy snacks and goodie bags were being set out for the event’s conclusion.  On the walk itself, coworkers who might otherwise have spent the noon hour plugging away at their desks shared a few laughs, and almost secondarily, broke a sweat. 

Although the Roo Walk went by quickly, event organizers are hoping that it will have a lasting impact. Following the walk, participants were asked to sign up for walking groups. They were also given maps of walking routes for both campuses.

Kevin Sansberry, human resources specialist III, was especially passionate about the staff’s overall health.  He knew that in order to make the Roo Walk lesson stick, it would have to be a fun, memorable event.

“We don’t want this just to be a one-time thing,” Sansberry said. “Our long-term goal is to get people walking regularly and in groups.

Hintz expressed hope that collective, consistent exercise would create a healthy workforce and reduce  long-term healthcare expenditures.

“Healthcare costs will continue to increase, and as employees if we all get together and make healthy behavior changes we will be able to make some impact on that.” Hintz said.

Later, in front of the Swinney Recreation Center, Hintz challenged the participants to walk for 30 minutes, three to five times per week.

“Get with some of your colleagues and please continue this effort,” Hintz said.

The idea of continuing the effort wasn’t lost on Chancellor Leo E. Morton, who last year lost 44 pounds as part of the KC Slimdown Challenge.

“There are things that you lose that you immediately start searching for. Weight is not one of them,” Morton told a chuckling crowd.

Since his weight loss, Morton has worked hard to keep the weight off.

“I found that as you lose [weight] and you’re not looking for it, it has a way of finding you and catching back up with you. Well, I think that walking fast enough will keep you ahead of it,” Morton said.

With that in mind, the group started the midday walk along campus. Their route took them down Cherry Street, along East 52nd and East 53rd streets, Charlotte Street, and past Newcomb Hall. Molitoris, who recently completed a 30-day workout challenge of her own, was grateful for the walk. She said that events like the Roo Walk are a good way to keep her on track.

“I think that anytime there’s something like this, especially on campus, it can help. It holds you accountable,” Molitoris said.

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“We’re hoping this day of camaraderie encourages employees to continue getting healthy and fit.”

Carol Hintz
associate vice chancellor of human resources

Hospital Hill Campus staff enjoyed the spirit of the event.