The Fort Sill Community Walk Nov. 25 is targeted to the post schools and employees, Soldiers and family members on post, but the plan is to have it spread to Lawton and area towns.

The walk is part of the Commanding General's Challenge- Western Miles in conjunction with the Fit Kids Coalition, one of the initiatives of the Army Community Covenant. Maj. Gen. Peter Vangjel, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commander, will lead the community walk, a single coordinated and collaborative event across Southwest Oklahoma, with on-post students from Geronimo and Sheridan Road elementary schools.

"The CG's Challenge is about promoting health and fitness for our leaders, Soldiers and families as well as all members of the Lawton community. This generation's children are the first group of kids who may not outlive their parents. Childhood obesity is on the rise across our nation, and educational performance and achievement are trending downward. As we look to the future, I believe these conditions pose a national security issue if we don't do something about it," said Vangjel.

The walk begins at 1:30 p.m. on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and the commanding general will speak briefly to Soldiers, civilian employees, family members and Co-Op partners from downtown who take up the challenge to participate in the fit and healthy walk.

"I would like to point out that parents who have children in on-post schools who decide to participate will still have to pick their child up from school after the event because all children must go back to their school so they can be accounted for before leaving the school for the day," said Brenda Spencer-Ragland, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Downtown businesses with the Co-Op program are also invited to participate in the walk.

"If your school or business downtown cannot participate in the walk on Fort Sill, they are still asked to set aside some time for meeting or assembly focusing on education and awareness for healthy lifestyles and do a walk at their location in support of the event," said Spencer-Ragland.
The commanding general has challenged the Fort Sill community, Soldiers, family members and civilians to get fit through the Commanding General's Challenge -- Western Miles. The challenge is for individuals to walk or run 100, 300, 600 or 1,000 miles, and for families and teams to run or walk 1,200 miles. Vangjel will recognize those Soldiers, families and civilians who decide to take the challenge in a quarterly ceremony for their accomplishments.

"Dr. Ben Cooper, Dr. Ed Legako, Dr. Ron Cagle and so many other concerned citizens who have undertaken a grand task -- the Southwest OK Fit Kids Coalition. LPS is changing menus and encouraging fitness ... because it has been proven that kids who are fit and exercise on the whole are more attentive, more positive and are more likely to be better students," said Vangjel.

The commanding general said it is his hope that the CG's Challenge and the SWOK Fit Kids Coalition join forces to promote fitness throughout the entire Lawton-Fort Sill community and surrounding communities.

"We will have several opportunities to make sure everyone in the community is aware of the program and has an opportunity to get involved in the challenge," said Janice Brim, the CG's Challenge marketing assistant. "That's also why it's a run or walk challenge. You don't have to run or walk 100 miles in a certain amount of time. We are trying to make people more aware of the benefits of exercise and make it a natural part of everyday life."

Spencer-Ragland said MWR will look at ways to tie in physical fitness and proper nutrition with all MWR events.

"So look for events such as this Community Walk and the Frost Your Fanny Run on Nov. 22 in Lawton where the community can come together and have fun with family and neighbors while walking their way to physical fitness, said Spencer-Ragland.

"I encourage the entire MWR team to get out there and walk because we put in a lot of hours sitting in classrooms and at our desks, and as community members and leaders we have to get out there and get involved in physical fitness to take care of our Soldiers and families. It's not just for the Soldiers; it's for everyone because we all have to be committed to a healthy lifestyle."

The challenge is another initiative through the Army Community Covenant to assist all Fort Sill residents and employees as well as those in the surrounding communities to get and stay fit and healthy. The benefits from participating in the challenge include regular exercise, which reduces stress and anxiety; improved stamina and energy; healthy bones, muscles and joints; control of body weight; reduced risk of developing colon cancer; reduced blood pressure and reduced risk of developing diabetes.