As Live Healthy Appalachia celebrates its 10-year anniversary, it’s added a twist to its annual walk -- which involves bringing a furry, four-legged friend.

Live Healthy Appalachia, located at 140-122 Columbus Road, is a nonprofit organization that promotes healthy lifestyles to those in Appalachia. The nonprofit traditionally puts on an event each fall.

“For several years now, we’ve had a fall walk, and it’s transitioned from the Pumpkin Roll and Stroll to the Pumpkin Hustle,” Heidi Frisch, executive director of Live Healthy Appalachia, said.

If You Go:

What: “Pup”kin Walk

When: Saturday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Athens Community Center, 701 E. State Street; Eclipse Company Store, 11309 Jackson Dr., The Plains, Ohio; and Hocking College, 3301 Hocking Pkwy, Nelsonville, Ohio

Admission: $15 per person, $40 per family

Other events Live Healthy Appalachia has put on include My First 5k, the Complete Health Improvement Program, or CHIP, the Appalachian Health Summit and Live Healthy Kids. This year, though, Live Healthy wanted to do something new.

“Every few years, it's a good idea to kind of refresh your event,” Frisch said. “So last year, after the Pumpkin Hustle, we thought ‘What else might we add to spice it up a little bit?’” 

The answer, Frisch said, was dogs.

The “Pup”kin Walk is a socially distanced walk for people and their dogs. The event is this year’s “Anni-fur-sary” celebration. People can register on Live Healthy Appalachia’s webpage for the event. 

Once signed up, Live Healthy Appalachia will send instructions on to registrants on how to participate in the walk. To encourage safety, the participants have three separate entrances to choose from: the Athens Community Center, at 701 E. State Street, Eclipse Company Store, at 11309 Jackson Dr., The Plains, Ohio, and Hocking College, at 3301 Hocking Parkway, Nelsonville, Ohio. All dogs must be leashed. The walk runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The walk will have turnaround markers, but people can turn around or walk further whenever they want, Laura Olbers, director of children’s programs at Live Healthy Appalachia, said.

With no time restraint, participants can start and end whenever they feel like it. 

“In previous years, (in) the Pumpkin Hustle, everybody has the same start time,” Olbers said. “(The “Pup”kin Walk) is kind of a one-and-done sort of deal.”

Live Healthy Appalachia is also allowing day-of registration at the event.

“We typically do have a good turnout of day-of registrants,” Olbers said. “We’re hoping that (people continue to) follow the trend (this year).”

The event is $15 per person and $40 per family. Dogs are not required -- simply encouraged. At the walk, dogs will receive homemade dog treats and a festive bandana.

“I am working on sewing the bandanas that we will give out to our four-legged participants,” Olbers said.

Participants also have the opportunity to enter a raffle to win a dog goody basket donated by Friendly Paws Pet Supplies, a locally owned pet supply and grooming business. 

To enter the raffle, participants text “Livehealthy” to 44321. This will provide them with a link where they can donate money. One dollar donated is equal to one raffle ticket. 

“During these times, a lot of people find it hard to find things to do,” Reilly McIntyre, a freshman studying communications, said in a text message. “This (walk) gives them a great opportunity to get involved. 

The money raised for the event goes towards Live Healthy Appalachia and will help the nonprofit with its expenses throughout the year. The event is what Live Healthy Appalachia is all about: healthy family fun. 

“The primary goal of this is to get people out and moving because that’s part of our mission,” Frisch said. “We promote active living, so we just want as many people to come out as possible, and just walk.”

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