By RICK HAYES
---- — MT. VERNON — Nearly 45 senior citizens logged over 1,000 in the last 30 days during the Stepping Out for Fitness program sponsored by the City of Mt. Vernon.The program is an activity "that helps provide encouragement for physical fitness while setting and achieving a personal goal," information stated."I think you deserve special recognition for what has occurred during these past 30 days," said Mayor Mary Jane Chesley during an awards presentation Saturday at Times Square Mall."The City of Mt. Vernon decided we wanted to have a Stepping Out for Fitness program so we started it out with little kids, for grade schools and also we had some Senior Circle individuals help from Crossroads Community Hospital. They asked, 'Why can't we do one too.' Fitness is ageless, so we decided to do a program for those 60 years of age and above."She added, "No matter what age a person is when you can walk 30 miles in 30 days or whatever mileage, I'm impressed, and you're setting examples for everyone else."In addition to the city, Good Samaritan Regional Health Center and Ameren IP were major funding sponsors. Chesley also thanked Times Square Mall, and its owner Sansone, for providing facilities for the program. Byrd-Watson and John's Hitching Post provided gift cards to participants.Penny Pennington was the top senior participant, walking 143 miles this past month. Pennington, who is a regular walker at the park, said he was not sure how his body would react to the concrete foundation at the mall since he pounded concrete for 20 years at American Can Co."I was reluctant to walk out here, but I got the best shoes money could buy, and I started walking out here. After two weeks, I was about 10 miles ahead, so I thought I would see what I could do. I had 41 miles the first two weeks and 101 the next two," he said. "I think the mayor deserves a lot of credit. "She gave these people who walk a lot of pride and gave them something to walk for. I think it's a whale of a program, and I can't really believe I walked that many miles."Carol Richey received three gift cards for being the top senior female walker, logging 91 miles."I walk all the time anyway, but it made me feel good," she said. "It's for my health, and it makes me feel better. I have asthma and it helps my breathing. I walk here six days a week, all year long."Richey walks about three miles per day, taking off only on Sunday."I may have walked a few extra miles the last 30 days, but that's pretty well what I do daily," she said.Those participating in the program and the number of miles each logged is as follows:Pat Bailey, 45; Liz Black, 30; Ellen Breeding, 64; Hank Brumley, 32; Barbara Galbraith, 39; Marsha Hacker, 42; Mary Lee Holloway, 67; Mary Irvin, 50; Ralph Just, 38; Carol Keegan, 43; Norma Kniffen, 57; June Krause, 36; Saundra Lipe, 34; Margie Marvel, 41; Ken Meyers, 34; Barbara Murphy, 41; Georgianna Schultz, 32; Wanda Terhune, 38; Marilyn Vulchard, 82; Ed Wheeler, 48; and Linda Wheeler, 53. Ed Wheeler and Jane Tate checked the mileage of the participants, and were also recognized by the mayor.