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Toby's Take: Step Into Summer

Step Into Summer: Step challenge graphic

July 06, 2022

Nothing like a little friendly competition to get the juices flowing, get the arms and legs moving, and get the head clear and focused.

Plus, it’d be nice to dominate this time instead of sneaking in a win.

I’m potentially writing some locker room material for Nebraska Medicine. But that’s okay. We can take ‘em.

I’m speaking of the intense but, indeed, friendly competition employees at The University of Kansas Health System are about to engage in with our healthcare colleagues to the north. Nebraska Medicine is the academic medical center covering Omaha and surrounding area with much the same profile as ours. They boast a thousand doctors and 70 specialties, operate 2 hospitals and partner with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a little like our health system’s partnership with the University of Kansas Medical Center.

A second challenge begins

For the second year, we’ve entered into a little contest to see who can walk more steps through a program known as Step Into Summer 2022 Movement Challenge.

“They’ve been a really great partner,” said Brianna Stecklein, our Employee Well-Being and Benefits Director.

The challenge runs 28 days from July 11 through August. The goal is for each employee (at both places) to register 175,000 steps. Or 6,125 a day. That’s doable with a nice walk every day. The organization with the most total steps gets to donate money to a charity of its choice. The loser is left empty handed with shattered dreams.

No, no. We’re staying sportsmanlike.

Last year, The University of Kansas Health System eked out a victory, trailing in steps for 3 weeks before coming from behind the last few days. That made Stecklein a little nervous, but she knew it was our first go and whatever happened gave us a good start.

However you get steps. Whether that means parking farther away, making sure you have some walking time in your day, or even if you can get moving with some of your departments and make some of your meetings moving meetings … – Brianna Stecklein

System Director Employee Well-Being & Benefits

Fun way to give back

“People really embraced it,” she said. “It was so fun to see.”

Employees are encouraged to form teams and hold each other accountable. That’s a proven step increaser. And check out some of the team names from last and this year:

  • Baby Got Track
  • Gyn-O-Might
  • Trauma Hawks
  • Nacho Average Squad
  • Not Fast, Just Furious
  • The Red Hot Chillisteppers

It was also fun to give our winning proceeds away. We chose The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge as our recipient. Hope Lodge provides free lodging for cancer patients and their caregivers who live away from Kansas City but need to stay here for treatment. Many of our own oncology patients take advantage of Hope Lodge’s loving hospitality.

The money comes from various donors to the competition, including locally based companies, Garmin and Lockton. Garmin gave both money and discounts for our employees on step trackers and other devices so their steps could be tracked automatically.

We’re grateful, and our leadership loves this.

A plan for success

“It’s the best and right thing to do, I think, and summer is the perfect time to do it,” said Tammy Peterman, president of our Kansas City division.

She’s right. Maybe we’ve become a little spoiled by the cooler, near-perfect temperatures recently. And it’s about to get hot and humid again. Big deal. Those Nebraskans will be dealing with the same thing, and we’re not going to give them the satisfaction of complaining about the elements. (Oh yeah, sportsmanship).

Plus, it’s easy to hit the 6,125 daily goal.

“However you get steps,” Stecklein encouraged. “Whether that means parking farther away, making sure you have some walking time in your day, or even if you can get moving with some of your departments and make some of your meetings moving meetings …”

Let me add something about this blog post. It’s written primarily for an external audience, so many of you can’t participate in this program. (Or you could if you came to work here!) We do have several of our employees who follow this blog – thank you – and can access the link above for complete info on the challenge.

If you aren’t one of our employees, does your company or organization sponsor something like this? It might be worth asking. Having a goal is so key. It not only helped me stay on a walking regimen last year, but it also served as a catalyst for my wife and me to walk in our neighborhood most days since.

Stecklein says the same thing for her, although she admits goading her husband throughout the day and watching him at night try to best her total. That’s exactly how this is supposed to work.

Win or lose, both organizations are going to win. And I’ll stay classy by saying to our Nebraska friends, we’re aiming to… beat your pants off.

One step at a time.

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