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Posted on Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

Dexter Wellness Walk raises more than $12,000 for tornado relief

By Lisa Carolin

More than 700 adults were counted on Saturday morning's Wellness Walk in Dexter, which translates into more than $12,000 to be donated to the Dexter Tornado Relief Fund by the Chelsea-area Wellness Foundation.

The group pledged to donate $20 per adult walker, and they - along with children and dogs, and despite a misting rain - turned out in force.

"All of our trees were taken down by the tornado and our garage and roof were damaged," said Sarah Barth, who lives off Dexter-Pinckney Road and participated in today's walk along with her twin toddlers George and Oliver, as well as friends and her mom, who came from Ohio.

"I'm here to help out however I can," said her mom, Louise Witzler, who lives in Waterville, Ohio. "I was so relieved that they weren't home when the tornado hit."

Joanne Mierkowicz, who walked with her one-and-a-half year old son Tyler, lives in Huron Farms, the Dexter neighborhood in which numerous houses were damaged and destroyed.

"We live at the far end of the subdivision and got no damage," said Mierkowicz. "Tyler was home with his dad when the tornado struck and they were safe and sound. We want to help support those people who didn't escape the damage."

Her friend, Danielle Heumann, came with her toddler Jack from Madison Heights to participate in the walk.

"My friends were so close to it," said Heumann. "This is a nice way to get together and do something."

Cedars of Dexter residents Marilyn Larson and Tim Larsen had no damage from the tornado, but wanted to help by walking.

"We want to raise funds," said Larson.

"It's very impressive what the Chelsea-area Wellness Foundation is doing," said Larsen.

The group is a private foundation representing the region, including the Dexter school district.

"Although our focus is specific to health prevention, you really can't focus on prevention and wellness when your most basic needs aren't being met-needs like housing and safety," said Amy Heydlauff, executive director of the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation.

Larry Cobler, who is on the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation's board of directors, came up with the idea for the Wellness Walk last fall. It was sponsored by the Dexter Wellness Coalition.

"The goal of the walk, from the Dexter Wellness Coalition's perspective, is to get people moving more and connecting with others, two of the four important goals of the Chelsea-area Wellness Foundation," said Cobler.

The walk offered two routes, one two miles long and one three miles long. The Village of Dexter also took the opportunity to dedicate a new bridge that's located behind the Dexter firehouse and was part of the walking routes.

The EF-3 tornado ripped through Dexter on Thursday, March 15, packing winds of up to 140 mph and leaving a path of destruction 7.2 miles long. About 20 homes were destroyed by the tornado, and nearly 200 more homes were badly damaged by it.


Steph B

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 1:41 a.m.

The walk had such a great turnout! It was nice to see so many people step up for wellness AND to support those who were affected by the Dexter tornado. We are so happy to be part of this community!