Annual Purple Walk with Friendship Haven Connects Residents and Triton Athletes
by Emilie Jenson, Public Information Office
Posted on 10/5/2023
A tradition for Iowa Central Cross Country and Track and Field athletes that started nearly a decade ago continued again this year when they gathered for the annual Purple Walk at Friendship Haven.
The Triton runners teamed up with residents – many sporting purple clothing or ribbons- from the retirement and healthcare center which neighbors the Iowa Central campus. Together they walked the route, marked with signs displaying messages such as “no one walks alone and “we’re in this together," to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease.
As they followed the path along Kenyon Road, residents and their Triton walking companions waved to passing cars, smiling with excitement when they were greeted with a honk or a wave in return.
“This is absolutely wonderful,” said Sylvia Cornell, a resident of Simpson Health Center, as she was escorted around the campus by Iowa Central Cross Country and Track and Field Director Dee Brown.
Cornell said she appreciated the chance to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine, as well as chatting with the students and coaches.
Resident Donna Sankey echoed Cornell’s remarks.
“I think it is wonderful that they do this for us,” she said. “I think the kids enjoyed it and we enjoyed getting some fresh air.”
Along the route, resident Ed Champagne visited with women’s track and field athletes Dayvione Briggs and Zariah Greaves about his childhood, memories of Fort Dodge, and even his current interest, which he discovered he shared in common with his new companions.
“I like playing video games,” Champagne told Briggs and Greaves. “It keeps me busy.”
That sparked an instant connection between the three.
“We like video games too,” said Briggs. “What do you play?”
“I’ve got a PlayStation,” Champagne told them.
They learned Champagne had played the game “Call of Duty,” just as they had.
After their chat about video games, the trio reached the end of the course and returned Champagne to his neighborhood in the Health Center. Their goodbyes turned into a plan.
“Can we come walk with you again sometime,” Briggs and Greaves asked Champagne.
“Absolutely, anytime,” he said with a handshake as his new friends headed back to campus.
Brown said the Purple Walk tradition started when a former Iowa Central runner, Liz (Crimmins) Flattery was employed at Friendship Haven as wellness coordinator and has continued at each fall since at least 2014.
“I personally look forward to this event each year because it is a small time commitment from our staff and athletes that has the potential to make a really large impact on others," said Brown. "For those athletes that are able to make a connection with a resident, as brief as it may be, it is really something special.”
Diversity is important to me. For people to learn and grow, there must be diversity in the workplace, schools, and sports. That is another reason I wanted to go to Iowa Central; there are so many people here from across the world, all with different backgrounds and life experiences. I saw Iowa Central as an opportunity not only to grow in both academics and in athletics, but also to become a stronger person.