Blue Valley Recreation News

Fri, Nov. 23, 2018 - [Blue Valley]
News Photo

by David Boyce

Rhoda and Austin Heise got their 67th wedding anniversary off on the right foot, literally, with a walk on the Blue Valley Recreation Center track. The couple have been regulars since the center opened in January of 2017.

Making time to walk six laps together on the elevated 1/7 of a mile indoor track at 7720 W. 143rd Street has become a healthy habit for the couple. Rhoda and Austin generally walk the track every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and occasionally Saturday.

And not too long ago, they walked on the track all five days during the work week until Austin changed his schedule for volunteer work at a local hospital.

"We try to get there as much as we can," Rhoda said. "We both think it is just a wonderful thing to have. We are so fortunate. We only live two miles from it. We can go over there in no time."

When Blue Valley Recreation Commission laid down plans for a new facility to complement their Activity Center (6545 W. 151st Street) and the Sports Complex (9701 W. 137th Street), it had residents like Rhoda and Austin in mind.

With eight basketball courts and eight volleyball courts, the state-of-the-art facility caters yearly to more than 5,000 in youth basketball leagues and over 3,000 in youth volleyball leagues. Plus, the 12 pickleball courts attract people of all ages.

The Aging Well program at Blue Valley Recreation is every bit as important.

"Blue Valley Recreation provides programs and activities geared toward folks who are at retirement age, near retirement age or preparing for retirement," said Steve Baysinger, executive director of the Blue Valley Recreation Commission. "When we did our citizen survey in developing the ideas for what would go into this facility, the No. 1 need from this Aging Well population was the run/walk track.

"Austin and Rhoda are basically doing that. Walking and exercise are very important aspect in being able to age well."

Baysinger believes it is one of the longest indoor walk/run tracks in the Kansas City area.

Aesthetically, the elevated track is very appealing. With windows, you are able to walk around the track and view outside along with other activities taking place inside the facility.

Simply put, it is perfect for people like Rhoda and Austin. Two years ago, they were searching for an indoor facility to do their walking. One place Austin went to was the facility at 151st Street. That is when he learned about the new facility being built.

"The walking surface is so good for your legs and feet," Rhoda said. "When we were at the farm, you had to have your head down, so you didn't trip on the rocks and bumps or whatever."

"Up here, all we have to do is look straight ahead. We can walk a lot straighter. Our posture is a lot better. We don't have to worry about if it raining or not raining."

Within a couple of weeks of it opening, the Heises purchased a membership. Yearlong pass or a single-day pass are available.

 "We also work with SilverSneakers and similar organizations," Baysinger said. "If their insurance covers it, folks can use the facility and there is no additional out of pocket expense once they have qualified."

It is the route Austin and Rhoda eventually took.

"We bought a full-year membership when it opened," Austin said. "We found out that Humana Insurance is paying our membership through the SilverSneakers program."

When Baysinger hears about how Rhoda and Austin use the facility at Hilltop, it reinforces what the Blue Valley Recreation wanted to accomplish with the new building.

"It is just fulfillment of the citizen survey and tells us we made the right choices in building that facility," Baysinger said. "It is rewarding, gratifying and humbling to learn that a couple who have been married for 67 years, leads off their wedding anniversary at the Blue Valley Recreation Center. The Commission's vision is, Enriching lives, strengthening a spirit of community, Rhoda and Austin are great examples of how we are getting that done."

Executive Director Steve Baysinger chats with the Heises.

Blue Valley Rec executive director Steve Baysinger chats with the Heises during one of their walks.

Hours of Operation

Activity Center (AC)
6545 W. 151st Street

Monday - Friday: 6:00A-9:00P
Saturday: 7:00A-7:00P
Sunday: 12:00P-7:00P

Rec Center at Hilltop (RC)
7720 W. 143rd Street
Monday-Friday: 5:30A-10:00P
Saturday: 7:00A-8:00P
Sunday: 8:00A-8:00P

Sports Complex Office (SC)
9701 W. 137th Street

Monday-Friday: 8:00A-4:30P

Administrative Offices
6545 W. 151st Street

Monday-Friday: 8:00A-4:30P

Vision Statement:

"Enriching Lives, Strengthening a Spirit of Community"

Mission Statement:

"We will champion community and personal growth through dynamic lifelong recreation experiences."