Mary Ann Beaman of Garden City has walked the Greenbelt with the Happy Hoofers since the early 1990s — making her the dean of the group of 17 seniors who participated in Tuesday’s walk.
“Because I need to stay healthy,” she said. “I’m 87 and I want to keep moving.”
The Happy Hoofers was started by Bob Richards in 1981. Since then, someone has shown up every scheduled day (currently Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) — even on the nastiest of winter days. If the weather is too bad, they get coffee or breakfast instead.
Every meeting starts the same — with a round of hugs from the ladies, handshakes from the men and a joke. The hugs make some newcomers uncomfortable, but they’re non-negotiable.
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“You’re going to get a hug whether you like it or not,” the Hoofers say.
As the walk begins, the group splinters by pace. The retirees walk for about an hour, with some covering nearly four miles and some about two.
Ted Redman used to be one of the group’s fastest members. Now he’s one of the slower walkers because of lung cancer and an oxygen pack he wears on his back.
Still, he shows up three days a week and walks a couple miles. He joined the group six years ago after back surgery.
“My doctor told me to walk, walk, walk,” he said.
The Happy Hoofers are hoping to expand their group. To join them, email email@example.com. The group meets at 8:45 a.m., walks at 9 and has breakfast at 10. The meeting places vary. This Thursday’s meeting is at Marianne Williams Park.
For another option, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Boise State (extendedstudies.boisestate.edu/osher) has group walks on Mondays and Fridays.