Mall walker honored for 5,000-plus miles logged
Alliance resident Ted Cross is a walking machine.
One of the familiar faces seen around Carnation City Mall, Cross was recently honored for reaching the 5,000-mile mark in the mall's Heart and Sole walking program.
The walking program was started several years ago by the mall and Alliance Community Hospital, offering a place for people to get their steps in and get some health education.
But the program is more than that to Cross.
Disabled with short-term memory loss, which was the result of an accident in 1984 that left him hospitalized and in a temporary coma, there was a time he couldn't perform the simple act of walking.
"They told me they didn't think I'd ever walk again," Cross recalled. "I had to learn how to do everything. My kids had to feed me, change my clothes; I didn't know how to do anything."
Cross said he kept advancing over the next year until he was finally back on track. "I've been walking ever since," he added.
When he first started walking at the mall -- long before Heart and Sole existed -- it wasn't unusual for him to walk 10 miles at a time.
He used to listen to music, but he stopped when he tired of carrying his radio. Now he just walks and walks, sometimes by himself, sometimes (particularly in winter months) with his friend Bo Dreger, although he doesn't walk as long or far as Cross. "He walks four or five laps and says, /See you tomorrow, Ted,'" Cross said.
Cross walks almost every day -- at least five days a week -- and those miles have added up. At recent count on Aug. 18, Cross had logged 5,400 miles -- a number that even surprised Cross. He said he had set an original goal of hitting the 2,000-mile mark, but has long surpassed that. "I just come every day and it adds up," he said.
Cross said his friend pointed out that in sheer miles, he has practically walked to California and back. Actually, depending on the route taken, he could have walked from the East Coast to the West Coast -- and back. That is no small feat.
While his total impressed those at the reception for the Heart and Sole program, it's not why Cross continues walking. "It's something to do and it passes time," he said, adding, "It keeps me thin."
Tina Domer, RN, nurse liaison from Alliance Community Hospital, who led the award presentation, offers weekly blood pressure checks to the walkers, as well as provides them with educational literature on different health topics.
"I'm just thankful we can celebrate you guys. I hope you continue walking. It's a huge benefit to you and the hospital is promoting wellness, so we definitely want to support you," Domer said to the walkers who attended the special reception.
Fruit, veggies, and cheese and cracker platters were offered during the noon reception Aug. 18. Those with the second (Twila Hoover, 1,499) and third (Bob Casebar, 706) highest mileage were unable to attend, but Cross was presented with a gift and congratulated by Domer and mall manager Andrea Foley, who also presented him with a certificate and T-shirt from the mall.
"You are an exception to what everyone else is doing," Foley said.
"We absolutely love our mall walkers," Foley continued. "You guys are the faces we see in here all the time and it's so nice to have a familiar face. Everybody waves at me and says hello. It's awesome that you guys come up and do it every day. It feels like part of a family."
While not all of those who walk at the mall keep track of their mileage, 20 have been enrolled in the program in 2016. Those wishing to sign up should visit the info center at the mall.