VICCO – Getting healthy was the theme of the day in Perry County on Saturday as 14 people set out to walk across the county to help increase awareness of the area’s poor health statistics.
It was earlier this month when a study was released showing women in Perry County have the shortest life expectancy in the nation, while Perry County’s men have the third shortest. Additionally, Perry County was ranked second to last in the state earlier this year in terms of the overall health of its residents.
Saturday’s effort was organized by Sam Neace, a resident of Lower Second Creek who said this walk, which was immediately followed by a health and back-to-school fair in the city of Vicco, was in direct response to those local health statistics, and he hopes it can serve as a first step that will get people in Perry County to become more physically active and think more about the choices they can make that might lead to a healthier life.
“I’ve been really pleased with what people have had to say, and not just at this event in particular,” Neace said, “but just about that we need to start living healthier in this community, and taking little steps can help and they’re thinking about living a healthier lifestyle.”
Neace began the walk at the Breathitt County line on Highway 15. He was joined by 13 other people (12 women and one man), including Vicco resident Julie Melton, who said for her the walk represented a mountain to climb.
“I’ve got a lot of health issues, so I kind of wanted to do this just to prove to myself that I can,” she said.
Neace, who in 2009 walked from Hazard to Chicago and is no stranger to walking, ended Saturday’s trek in Vicco to attend the health fair where local health organizations were on hand to offer free screenings and information. He said he thinks if events like this health fair can become regular occurrences, they could go a long way in keeping the value of healthy living in people’s minds.
“The health representatives, they’ve got people talking to them at each table and people are having fun, so that’s great,” he said. “I think we owe it to ourselves to keep doing fun things like this that keep living healthier in people’s mindset.”