10th Annual Alpha Kappa Alpha
Sorority Walk It Out Health Fair
WERQing a Healthy Lifestyle
|Chloé Brown, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s chair of the Walk It Out
committee (l-r) and Michelle Heitzinger, Madison-area director of
Susan G. Komen Wisconsin
They show you what you look like when you’re working out. It’s okay. Drink your water. I’m the one who carries 101 ounces of water
everywhere. I carry that with me so I drink it. And I drink about 1-2 each day. I need that water because if I don’t, I cramp in my legs. It’s really
important to be aware of what you’re doing. Whether it’s no prep or gym prep, it has to happen.”
And that focus on health has spilled over to friends and supporters in the community.
“I have my gal pal Lynn Brown who gets me out walking,” said Michelle Heitzinger, this year’s Walk Champion and Madison-area director for
Susan G. Komen Wisconsin. “We do the Gloria Ladson-Billings-Frances Huntley-Cooper route from the Sheraton Hotel to Sardines along that
bike path and back. It’s a great walk on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It’s about five miles down and back. It might even be longer than that.
Carving out that time is hard. There is no doubt about it. It’s easy to get misled if someone calls us up and wants to do a happy hour. And we
have a finite amount of time to enjoy our summer evenings. It’s hard to say, ‘I’d rather go workout rather than enjoy a patio Sunset
As a health care organization, Heitzinger feels that Komen needs to promote the health of its employees, few as they may be.
“There are times when we have put in 10-hour days, especially when it’s event week, whether it is Race for the Cure Week or our Football 101
for Women,” Heitzinger said. “We’re coming up with our October event now, working on that. And there are times when I think, ‘Poor Susie
Komen died when she was 36-years-old.’ I think if she saw that we were missing time with our families right now, she would say, ‘Get the hell
out of this office and go enjoy your families.’ There are times when we even have to say, ‘This isn’t healthy. We don’t take lunch very often.
Now that it’s summer — we have our office in an office park — let’s take a half-hour walk in the office park.’ We keep tennis shoes there.
Sometimes, that’s part of it too. You just have to say, ‘It’s time.’ The email will wait. The phone call will wait. You have to take care of yourself
because we’re supposed to be promoting a healthy lifestyle."
Brown works for National Guardian Life, which also promotes the health of its employees.
“During the fall and the winter months, they put on a challenge,” Brown said. “You have whatever walking device you are going to use. And
whoever has the most steps is the winner that week. It costs $8 for each person for each week. If you have 30 something people in the group
for that week, you get $35. And then at the end, someone took almost a million steps one time. I was like, ‘How!’ Whoever gets the highest
each week gets $35 and then after that, when it is finished, they check who has gone the most. I know for a few weeks, there were people with
over 100,000. I had one week where I had over 100,000, over 130,000. I was so exhausted. So I went back to 80,000. National Guardian
encourages us to be healthy. We can walk around the area on our breaks. We bring our shoes to work. They have yoga classes. I’m trying to
get them to do a WERQ class, so that I can teach it.”
Often times, the things that we need to do for our health can be made easier when we do them with friends and others on a like-minded
“Susan G. Komen is funding a program called Sister Pact,” Heitzinger said. “And it’s getting African American women to pair up and make a
pact with each other to get their mammogram. Once they get their mammogram, then there is some rewarding that goes on. But it has to be
done together. And a lot of times, in the case of a health plan, these gals don’t have a medical home. They don’t have that doctor that they call.
So they have to navigate a health system that they aren’t used to. But if you can do it together and you are helping each other, it’s easier. They
go through the Well Woman Program. They get hooked up and they get a case manager. But it’s this promise that you make to each other called
the Sister Pact that helps them get it done. I think a lot of times, that’s what we need to do just as sisters with each other. It keeps you
accountable. ‘I know you don’t want to go. I know we’d rather go eat sushi somewhere. But let’s go do this.’”
The AKAs are now in their 10th year of sponsoring Walk It Out and it would have been a difficult thing to do were it not for one of their long-time
sponsors, Group Health Cooperative.
“We are proud to be sponsors of AKA's annual community health event Walk It Out for the tenth year in row,” said GHC’s Ginger Francis. “ GHC-
SCW has partnered with the AKA sorority on Walk It Out since it began a decade ago. It's been an honor to support their leadership in
facilitating community spaces for healthy activities, educational workshops, and celebration.”
People will be coming together in pursuit of health at this year’s Walk It Out Health Fair on Saturday, July 29th at the Warner Park Community
“Everything is free and everyone is welcome,” Brown emphasized. “Registration starts at 8:45 a.m. and the walk will start at 9:15 a.m. and the
run will start around the same time. We would like people to register on the Eventbrite page and you have to sign your waiver and you are all
set to go. We have two different routes. There is a two-mile walk led by Walk Champion Michelle. And we have a three-mile run that will be
championed by the Black Men Run group. You can choose between them. Last year, it was a little different because it got too hot. It’s up to the
participant which one they want to do. After that, there are going to be two different workshops going on. There is going to be a WERQ Fitness
workshop going on and then a mental health and Alzheimer ’s disease impact on the Black community. There also will be massages and
reflexology provided by Group Health Cooperative, which is a fan favorite. They will also be providing snacks and water. There will also be a
cooking demonstration put on by Chef Rod Ladson and 100 Black Men.”
This year’s edition is designed to get you going early and to surround you with like-minded people who want to make a change for the better in
staying fit and healthy.
“We want everyone to come and enjoy it and soak it all in,” Brown said. “I know it is summer and there are a million and one things to do on a
Saturday morning in Madison. But just come and get your free fitness on and enjoy the day and go forth. You can do this and still go to the
Farmer’s Market. You can go to Atwood Fest afterwards. It’s a nice way to start your summer day and enjoy it.”
By Jonathan Gramling
Chloé Brown, the chair of the 10th annual Alpha Kappa Alpha
Sorority Walk It Out Health Fair, has been engaged in staying
healthy over the past year. One could say that she has been
WERQing on a healthy lifestyle. She became a certified WERQ
instructor in January.
“WERQ is a Top 40, hip hop, high intensity class,” Brown said.
“It’s a dance class. You do 45-60 minutes. It’s taught around
the Madison area and around the world. And you basically
follow the instructor. It’s non-verbal cuing. And it’s all to the
latest Top 40 music, hip hop, pop and rock. We’re going to have
a working demonstration by Jacqueline Garcia at our event.
Brown has developed a routine where she’ll hit the gym after
work, driven by the scheduler on her smart phone. And she
isn’t the only AHA to get into the fitness groove.
“A lot of the chapter members this past year have been very
prominent in sharing those health experiences,” Brown said. “I
know sometimes, we want to hide what we’re doing. If you put
it out there, it’s not going to happen. But it might encourage
someone else. Our chapter member Nichelle Nichols and Dr.
Gloria Ladson-Billings put out these things almost every day.