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Healthiest state initiative’s biggest feat hopes to total 99 counties

August 23, 2015
Reinbeck Courier

The Healthiest State Initiative has one number in mind as it prepares to get Iowans on their feet again on October 7, 2015. 99. Ninety-nine walks that is, or at least one in each of Iowa's counties.

"We want to see all Iowans incorporate physical activity into their daily lives," said Jeff Russell, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Iowa and co-chair of the 2015 Healthiest State Walk. "Our goal is that a few steps in the fall will advance the state's mission towards becoming the healthiest in the nation."

In an effort to reach participants in all corners of the state, the Healthiest State Initiative is teaming up with the State Fire Marshal Division to encourage Iowans to "Walk at the Whistle" on Wednesday, October 7, as part of the Healthiest State Walk.

The walk coincides with National Fire Prevention Week, which is Oct. 4 to Oct. 10 this year. Local fire departments will work within their communities to coordinate walks and fire drills on the day of the event.

"This is a very valuable event," said Jeff Quigle, state fire marshal. "We hope Iowans gain a greater understanding of fire safety and the importance of a healthy lifestyle as a result of these efforts."

Also new this year, it could even pay to register a walk. Several competitions have been designed to build community and school pride.

High School Mascot Challenge The first 32 high schools across the state to register a walk will compete for the title of the state's favorite mascot. This bracket style competition will be determined by a weekly Facebook vote with the winning school taking home $1,000!

K-8 Healthiest Walk Challenge K-8 schools are encouraged to post their walk plans on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and to challenge three others schools using the hashtag #HealthiestWalkChallenge. One school will be randomly selected to win $1,000. Schools must share their plans by September 18th to be eligible.

Fire Department Contest Get your boots on the ground. Local fire departments can organize and register a walk within their communities to be eligible to win $1,000 for equipment. The winning department will be selected randomly. Fire departments must register their walk at by September 18th to be eligible.

#WalkAtTheWhistle Contest Post your walk week photos and videos on Facebook or Instagram between Oct. 4 and Oct. 10 using the hashtag #WalkAtTheWhistle. Winners will be selected randomly to receive a $25 Hy-Vee gift card.

Delta Dental of Iowa is presenting sponsor of the 2015 Healthiest State Walk. "Our goal is to see more healthy smiles in every county across the state," Russell says. "We're proud to sponsor the Healthiest State Walk again this year."

The Healthiest State Initiative is a privately led, public effort that engages Iowans and their communities throughout the state. It involves individuals, families, businesses, faith-based organizations, not-for-profits and the public sector in a broad-based, community-focused effort. For more information, visit



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