World Walk to Wellness Day kicks off its activities from 7-10 a.m. next Friday in Pleasanton's Sports Park on Hopyard Road.
"This is the time of year when many of us are making New Year's resolutions," said W. Ron Sutton, founder of World Walk to Wellness and CEO of ACCUSPLIT, a pedometer and stopwatch manufacturer. "We know that walking is good for us, especially if we make it part of our daily routine."
Community members are volunteering to lead "Walk With Me" loop walks every 30 minutes and to sponsor monthly walks throughout 2011.
"Walk With Me" leaders so far include Sutton as "Mr. Pedometer," Ward Belding (aka "Uncle Sam" vocalist), City Councilman Jerry Thorne, community leader Dolores Bengtson, and Jill Daniel, a registered dietician.
"Lots of research has shown that the 'buddy system' is the best way to commit to an active lifestyle for a whole year," said Sutton. "Friends can encourage friends to keep on walking."
The Dec. 31 event includes the opportunity to support Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation with a donation of $5 per walker. But this is just a suggestion, not a requirement to join the walk, organizers said. Each donation up to $20 will be matched by event sponsor ACCUSPLIT to help support PPIE Wellness Grants for local schools. Past walks have raised $5,000 for PPIE.
A World Walk to Wellness Festival will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 8, at the Pleasanton Public Library. It will have booths handing out health tips inside the library's community room, and a chance to take an easy stroll down Main Street on your own or with a "Walk With Me" leader. A special guest at the festival will be Pleasanton school superintendent Parvin Ahmadi.
Sutton got the idea for the walk from his agent in Taiwan who held a walking event the day before New Year's Eve.
"She's a national hero, one of two gold medalists for Taiwan," Sutton explained. "She had hundreds of people show up in Taipei. She sent us photographs and we got inspired to do this around the world."
It began in Pleasanton three years ago, he said, and it's simple: Just show up to walk.
"We think we have our template down right now and the whole year we're going to be asking agents, dealers around the world, to join," Sutton said.
A volunteer is putting up a website, www.worldwalktowellness.org, that will enable groups around the world to post videos of their walks.
"What I hope to do next year is stay up and watch the new year cross over in every time zone and watch as people post their events online," said Sutton.
People will also be able to sign up for walks on the website, and it will list the details of Pleasanton walks, which organizers plan to make monthly events.
Walks are tentatively scheduled for the mornings of Feb. 26 and March 19 on the Arroyo Mocho. On April 9, Dolores Bengtson will lead a walk on the Marilyn Kane Trail in the Bernal Community Park to look for native bird and plant habitats. May, June and July walks will be linked to First Wednesday street fairs downtown, and the August walk will precede a Friday evening Concert in the Park.
To volunteer to lead or sponsor a World Walk to Wellness 2011 event, call Joanie Fields at 462-4312; W. Ron Sutton, 580-5961; or Jerri Long, 462-5164.