Shape Up Steuben wants the people in our community to live long, happy, healthy lives.

One of the organization’s founders and most active members, Bill Maddock, created a free, easy program aimed at making Steuben County a standout in good, clean living. He is passionate about it, and if you are a local leader in health, fitness, government or spirituality, don’t be surprised if Maddock comes knocking at your door.

With patience and joyful zeal, Maddock can explain how he created the 2020 WALK program. WALK stands for We All Love Konnections.

WALK was born from “The Blue Zone,” a book by Dan Buettner revealing the practices and philosophies of some of the healthiest societies in the world. “The Blue Zone” was published in 2008 while Buettner was still dating Cheryl Tiegs. A series of books have followed: “The Blue Zones of Happiness,” “The Blue Zones Kitchen” and “The Blue Zones Solution” — which can be checked out from the Carnegie Public Library of Steuben County.

Maddock tried to get Buettner to come to northeastern Indiana to speak, but the proposition was a bank breaker. So, instead, he has launched a motivated kickoff of WALK with media publicity and face-to-face contact.

On Feb. 13, Shape Up Steuben invites the public to hear speaker Emily Boiler during Steuben County Anti-Bullying Coalition’s Fearless Freak Art Show at the Brokaw Movie House, 200 N. Public Square, Angola, 6-9 p.m. Boiler, Fort Wayne, will share her weight loss journey and experiences with overcoming obstacles while remaining true to herself.

“The Blue Zones Solution” starts by telling the story of 54-year-old Spencer, Iowa, city manager Bob Fagen. Critical kidney issues led Fagen to rethink his eating habits and Buettner was invited to present a plan to make permanent changes in the town — changes based on the food preferences and cultural practices of the world’s longest lived people. It worked.

“The Blue Zones Solution” introduces readers to lovable and colorful centenarians, popular Blue Zone foods — such as olive oil, chick peas, red wine and leafy greens — and provides 77 easy recipes straight from the Blue Zones.

The Blue Zones Buettner found — such as Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica — are communities where people live to be 100 years old at a rate much higher than most other societies while maintaining active and disease-free lives. Tenets of Blue Zones include moving naturally as part of a daily routine, cutting calories, eating plant-based foods, moderate daily alcohol consumption, downshifting away from stress, a circle of close-knit friends, living among others who follow healthy principles, community involvement, putting loved ones first and having a purpose in life beyond just work.

WALK kicked off this month, with Maddock standing as an example. Through an article in Thursday’s Herald Republican, Maddock introduced his WALK family — his wife, Trudy, Dr. Bill Smith, Kevin Wenzel, Cat Benson and Brad Stevens. Their picture ran on the front page of the paper, a promise that they will put their best feet forward to stick to the simple rules of the program.

Each will walk for one hour four times a week. Each will pledge to create a WALK family of his or her own and attend three of six Shape Up Steuben WALK Family Reunions. The reunions start with the annual Heart 2 Heart Walk on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m. at the Selman Timber Frame Pavilion, Commons Park.

Anyone can get involved at any time.

The Herald Republican invites you to share photos of your WALK family as this happy, healthy movement ushers Steuben County into a wonderful 2020. Send the photos to

Amy Oberlin is the news editor at The Herald Republican and editor of KPC Media Group’s Outdoor Page.

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