What a great week it has been! School is off and running. The city’s budget drafts are all but done and ready for a formal review and acceptance. Revenues continue to grow and are up over last year. It’s nice when things are going smooth and in the right direction.

Speaking of off and running (better yet – walking), we’re only a few weeks away from October. Did you know that October is National Walking Month? I didn’t either until last week. And my business has signed up for month-long campaign called WalktoberTM as a way to promote physical activity for our employees. (One lucky employee will come away with a monetary reward for participating in the event!)

But as I researched the overall program more, I learned some facts that are somewhat disturbing. Did you know that nearly 2 in 3 adults in the U.S. are either overweight or obese? Did you know that almost 10 percent of our total annual medical expenditures are attributable to being overweight/obese? Getting more physical activity in our daily lives is critical for our long-term health. And as American continues to growth (both in population and size), dealing with health issues associated with being overweight and obese will become a bigger burden on citizens, our healthcare system, and employers.

While we can’t fix the world by actions here in Neosho, we can certainly look to do our part at promoting healthy living and increased physical activity. Given our extensive (and recently expanded) walking trail system in Neosho, we already have a head start by having the necessary resources (in this case the trails) to support promoting increased physical activity in our community. All we need now is the ambition and the drive to get out our walk! That’s where I want your help!

I’ve already put out the challenge to a couple of people – Chamber Director Lauri Lyerla being one of them – to work with me to find better ways to promote and engage some of our community leaders and businesses to get out the word and encourage more physical active in our town. I’ve also challenged Wes Franklin, our city events coordinator, to find ways of incorporating more physical activity in our already growing list of activities held in Neosho every year.

I’ll be the first to tell you I need more physical activity. And if your family is like mine, it’s also not a secret that our kids need more time away from the iPods and the couch. But starting something like this without support or a partner can be difficult. That’s why I’m pledging to do more and I want to do it in a way that encourages others to join me.

I’ve got a month to come up with some ideas. Ultimately, I want to make October the start of a new commitment to being active and healthier. I’d love to hear some ideas and suggestions. And regardless of what we ultimately do, if you’re on the bubble as to getting involved in more exercise, then dust off the tennis shoes, break out the headbands and get ready – October is your time to start! And I’m looking forward to being there with you – working to make our community a better (and healthier) place to live!

Until next time: stay the course, keep the faith, and may God bless Neosho!
Richard Davidson is mayor of Neosho.