First Lady Tonette Walker

Walking With Walker - First Lady Visits Waupaca

Angie Landsverk
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Area residents joined First Lady Tonette Walker for a walk on Waupaca’s River Ridge Trail last week.

The Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the Thursday, June 9 Walk with Walker in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

Terri Schulz, president of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, said the state’s Department of Tourism contacted the chamber and asked if it wanted to host such a walk.

“We said we’d absolutely love to participate in it,” she said.

Walk with Walker events, which are free and open to the public, seek to promote health and fitness while also supporting tourism in Wisconsin by showcasing the state’s natural beauty and numerous hiking trails.

Many times, the walks take place at state parks.

While Hartman Creek State Park is located just outside of the city, Schulz said they thought it would be nice to show a segment of Waupaca’s River Ridge Trail which also includes a Story Walk.

The chamber met with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to determine the route.

Children and adults met at Swan Park to walk with Wisconsin’s first lady.

First Lady Tonette Waker (center) and others react to a comment made by Sue Abrahamson (far right), the children's librarian at the Waupaca Area Public Library, during the June 9 Walker with Walker event on Waupaca's River Ridge Trail. Angie Landsverk

First Lady Tonette Waker (left) and others react to a comment made by Sue Abrahamson (far right), the children’s librarian at the Waupaca Area Public Library, during the June 9 Walker with Walker event on Waupaca’s River Ridge Trail. Angie Landsverk Photo

The first part of the 1.4-mile walk incorporated the part of the trail with a Story Walk on it.

“This is our first Story Walk,” Walker said before all in attendance started the walk.

With her two sons now 20 and 21 years old, she said she remembers the days of going to the library with them.

Sue Abrahamson, the children’s librarian at the Waupaca Area Public Library, said a Story Walk is a “great way to mix recreation and literacy. Kids who love books and love nature – this is their place to be.”

The library and Waupaca’s Parks and Recreation Department collaborated when the first Story Walk went up in April 2012.

The two departments continue to work together on the project, changing which books are featured and placing them on other city trails as well.

Last week’s Walk with Walker in Waupaca was the 51st one.

The first one took place just over five years ago, at High Cliff State Park.

Walker said Walk with Walker was patterned after a lunch time walk her husband did when he was the Milwaukee County executive.

After he was elected governor, she was encouraged to take on the idea.

She said her walks throughout the state are not political.

On them, Walker experiences different parts of Wisconsin and talks to people who live throughout the state.

“It is all about learning what your community is doing,” said Walker.

First Lady Tonette Walker (left) walks with Jennifer Schmidt and Michael Wendtlandt during the June 9 Walk with Walker event on Waupaca's River Ridge Trail.<br />
Angie Landsverk Photo

First Lady Tonette Walker (left) walks with Jennifer Schmidt and Michael Wendtlandt during the June 9 Walk with Walker event on Waupaca's River Ridge Trail. Angie Landsverk Photo