First Lady Tonette Walker

Wisconsin first lady Tonette Walker visits The Highground

By: Ashley A. Smith, Marshfield News Herald
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NEILLSVILLE -- Getting a breath of fresh air, staying healthy and taking in some of Wisconsin's most scenic views are the goals behind Wisconsin's first lady Tonette Walker's Walk with Walker initiative.

Gov. Scott Walker's wife joined about 35 people Monday west of Neillsville at The Highground to promote Walk with Walker and learn more about the veterans memorial park.

"This is a nature walk to get out and see Wisconsin," said Walker, who has been to The Highground before with her husband. "We've been all over Wisconsin, up to Chippewa Falls and Eagle River."

The Walk with Walker initiative encourages Wisconsin residents to join the first lady at some of state's scenic trails, as well as to promote a healthy lifestyle.

The walkers were led in a small warm-up session by Marshfield Clinic sports medicine athletic trainer Jim Nesbit before setting out on the trail.

"I'm a walker," said Joanne Leonard of Wausau. "And this is such a wonderful event for her to have. It's showing how to be healthy and fit, and it's easy.

It's something anyone can do, and she's doing it in places many people haven't been."

Walker got the idea for the initiative when her husband, as Milwaukee County executive, encouraged people to go for a walk during their lunch hours, she said.

This being the week of Veterans Day, Walker said she applauded the state Department of Tourism for scheduling the seventh walk at The Highground.

The two-mile tour of The Highground included stops at various veteran tributes, the Meditation Garden and an Effigy Mound, where The Highground's general manager, Kirk Rodman, included information about the symbolism of the site.

The walk also is a chance for people to get to know the first lady. Walker said she's been accompanied by children and walkers as old as 80.

"I was so impressed with how magnificent this whole complex is, and I like what it stands for," said LaVerne Rondeau of Weston, who is a supporter of Gov. Walker. "It's exciting that (Tonette Walker) is involved in other things. This shows there's another side to the family besides politics. They stand for a lot more than what people see."

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