Franklin Mayor Ken Moore and city aldermen last week stepped up to the Aldermen Ward Walk-Off challenge during a friendly competition to determine which aldermanic team could draw the most participants for a scenic walk in Franklin.
The four competing teams made up of two aldermen each laced up their walking shoes for the challenge as part of the Get Fit Franklin initiative in partnership with Franklin Tomorrow.
Aldermen Pearl Bransford and Dana McLendon teamed up last Thursday for a mile walk at Fieldstone Trails, while a few hours later aldermen Brandy Blanton and Margaret Martin gathered with residents to take a mile gaunt from Bicentennial Park to downtown Franklin and back.
On May 21 and 30, aldermen joined together to promote getting fit among their constituents. Each at-large alderman paired with a ward alderman to form the four teams. Moore attended each team walk, including walks with aldermen Bev Burger and Clyde Barnhill, Scott Speedy and Ann Petersen, McLendon and Bransford and Martin and Blanton.
“It’s so important for our local citizens, no matter what your age, what your mobility level is, to get out and be active,” Bransford said last week.
Bransford hopes that residents will continue a fitness routine to build a healthy community.
“I am a nurse, so I always like to promote health and fitness and balance in your life, and this is an easy way to get out and keep the joints active,” she said. “I want to see more of this. Hopefully this can spur more neighborly events to happen, not necessarily being led by the mayor or aldermen, but just neighborhood groups getting out and forming some walking clubs.”
McLendon shared a personal story that led to his commitment to fitness.
“I had a heart attack when I was 42, so I was dead for about five minutes,” McLendon said. “So I’ve got five stents in my heart, but I’m currently training for a power-lifting contest. ... I was 42 years old, and I wasn’t ready to give up, so I decided to do something about it. I’ve been training ever since then, either in strength or jiujitsu.”
McLendon said the walking challenge and other fitness activities in the community can bring people together and motivate one another.
“For one, it helps build community, getting people out to meet each other that might not have met, and introduces you to your neighbors to know the people that live in and around your neighborhood,” he said. “You feel better when you’re fit, and when you feel better, you’re a better parent, a better spouse, a better employee. And on a macro level, when everyone’s healthy, then all of our costs go down. So, there’s a million reasons.”
Moore, who is a physician, said that fitness is crucial to one’s wellbeing.
“Fitness is the key to longevity,” Moore said. “Being active prevents heart disease and keeps your mind sharp. If you sit down, like a log, it will rot.”
Moore is working to organize a blue-ribbon panel committee to address the importance of mental health in building a healthy community as well.
Franklin was recognized in 2016 as one of three Healthier Tennessee pilot communities, through the work of Franklin Tomorrow’s Get Fit Franklin project.
The aldermanic team with the highest attendance at their walk will win a trophy and bragging rights for the year. Trophies will be presented to the winning team at Tuesday’s board meeting.
John Nekrasov contributed to this story.