"Walking Buddies" find inspiration for mind and body in nature


Each man in the "Walking Buddies" group walks for different reasons.

Tri Bankston says he walks for his health, “I got diagnosed with congestive heart failure and was in the hospital for five days. Afterward, you have to make life changes and being more active was my thing.”

“For me, it's an opportunity to meet and talk and share and hear some of their stories and share my stories in a format that's not formal,” says Tim Toole.

“I'm trying to make connections in my life and do some healthy things,” says Al Atwood, who is retired.

Until recently, these men usually walked alone.

But all it took was Al Atwood sharing at church that he wanted people to join him on his walk.

People showed up and the men, who were practically strangers, now walk together every week.

They call themselves the "walking buddies".

“We talk about what's going on in our lives, sometimes it does get real but for the most part it's light hearted and we want to make each other laugh,” Atwood says.

“It's fun to be out with guys doing something positive,” Bankston adds.

At Blacklick Woods Metro Park nature adds to their experience together, like the time the guys saw two owls for their first time.

“After it landed and turned its head I said that's not a hawk, that's a Bart Owl. It was huge. Al took pictures and said wow that was an owl. And we saw a baby owl and we started taking pictures of the baby owl too,” Tool says.

With that inspiration from nature, these men who come from different walks of life, bond in a way they say they can't do anywhere else, which is why they hope their group buds into something bigger.

“We do a selfie every time we come here and a lot of people see that who come here and even today we have new faces. It’s taken off and hopefully it'll last 30-40 years,” Bankston says.

To learn more about the Central Ohio and Franklin County Metro Parks, click here.

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