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Top stepping resident is all-around active

September 22nd, 2021

Points West Living Cold Lake was the top finishing PWL community in the recent #Steps2MentalHealth walking challenge. One of the main contributors to that accomplishment was resident Emil (Ben) Benusic (right, above), who walked an astonishing 629,764 steps. Ben finished in third place among hundreds of individual residents, employee care partners, families, and supporters from 26 PWL and Connecting Care communities (The top two finishers tell their story here).

Ramping up the steps

Ben Benusic says he started to prepare for the challenge two weeks before it began. How? “The short answer is ‘walk’,” he says, checking his cellphone for his walking data. “From July 25-31, I walked 78,715 steps, and the next week 161,802.” Then he upped it again when the challenge began on August 11. “Most of the walking I did locally,” he says. “I went out to the provincial park and walked a lot. I walked a lot around PWL Cold Lake community, and I walked on the walking track at the Energy Centre.” During the challenge, Ben’s maximum one day count was over 45,000 steps.

Ben figures his total step count from August 11-25 adds up to 640-kilometres, or the distance from Cold Lake, Alberta to Dawson Creek, BC (as the crow flies).

Not always a walker

Not bad for a guy who hasn’t liked to walk. “I wasn’t always a walker,” he confesses. “I had a wife who loved walking, but no, I did not enjoy walking. The only place I ever enjoyed walking was trails in the woods.” Now he appreciates walking for its own sake, saying, “The gift of mobility is God-given and I’m damned grateful for it.”

“Many people helped us achieve this result,” Ben says of PWL Cold Lake’s top finish. Ben’s daughter Nicole and grandson Colby walked too, contributing a whopping 730,000 steps to PWL Cold Lake’s tally, and Wellness Supervisor Amanda Winterhalt clocked 585,000.

Extremely active and helpful

Ben came to Cold Lake in 1981, where he served the final six years of a 30-year military career at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake. When his wife passed away in 2018, he moved in to PWL Cold Lake Independent Living, where he has been an extremely active and helpful member of the community.

“Ben volunteers himself for all activities and even does the gardening,” says Recreation Therapist Nikhil Raju. “Our lawn looks beautiful because of his and maintenance man John Gordon’s hard work. We had lots of potatoes, strawberries, beans, tomato and cucumber this summer, all because of their hard work and mainly his supervision. He is really an awesome resident and we are proud that we have him here.”

Photo: In addition to being a steps-challenge champion, Ben Benusic (right) is very active in the life of the community, volunteering with other residents and keeping the grounds of PWL Cold Lake looking wonderful. Here he's hard at work with PWL Cold Lake maintenance man, John Gordon (left).

More photos at Flickr: Top stepping resident is all-around active

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