BARSTOW • Barstow area residents will be taking steps to wellness and raising money for the March of Dimes in the 2011 "Barstow Walks Around the Word" pedometer challenge.

Teams of five or more people will strap on pedometers and record their steps for eight weeks beginning Feb. 14, working towards a goal of 10,000 steps per day.

Last year 323 people in 20 teams were stepping for charity in the contest, which is organized by Barstow Community Hospital.

The name of the 2011 step-a-thon was changed  after Barstow area residents met their goal of making enough steps to cross the county after only a week in the 2010 challenge.

"It was a pleasant surprise," said Barstow Community Hospital Spokesman John Rader. "The initial challenge was (the length of) I-40 —  from here to Wilmington, N.C. We didn't expect so much participation. This year's event will be bigger and better."

Rader said the average person makes 2,000 steps per day, and the goal for the contest is 10,000 steps — the equivalent of five miles — a day.

Participants in the event log the number of steps they take into a web site where they can track their progress and their standing among all teams in the competition. In the 2010 challenge all teams combined walked the equivalent of three times around the earth, said Rader.

"The competitive aspect is really an incentive," said Rader. "If someone comes home and thinks about plopping in front of the TV, they look at that pedometer and it forces them to move and get some exercise."

The winner of last year's challenge was "The Moving Fanatics", a team of furniture movers.
The first place team will have $500 donated in their name to the March of Dimes. Second and third place teams and first and second place individual winners will also have money donated in their name. Last year's challenge raised $2,000 for the charity.

Rader said another benefit of the challenge was increased participation in the March of Dimes March for Babies, which takes place the day after the end of the pedometer challenge. After years of declining revenue the 2010 march saw a great increase in participation and money raised, said Rader.

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(760) 256-4126 or adome@desertdispatch.com