Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health Executive Director Kendra Witt-Doyle, center, presents checks to Representatives Clark Kauffman and Laurie Lickley in 2019 after they successfully completed the Steps for Schools walking challenge.

Representatives Clark Kauffman and Laurie Lickley have created a new tradition that benefits schools in District 25, the area of the state they represent as members of the Idaho House of Representatives.

Kauffman and Lickley drop pieces of paper in a cup with the names of all the elementary schools in District 25, which includes Jerome County and a part of Twin Falls County. Each representative draws the name of one school from the cup, and that’s how they decide where to direct the funds they earn from participating in the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health’s annual Steps for Schools walking challenge.

District 25 representatives Clark Kauffman and Laurie Lickley have a drawing to determine what schools will receive funds from the Steps for Schools walking challenge.

This year, Lickley drew Heritage Academy in Jerome, while Kauffman selected Popplewell Elementary School in Buhl. If the representatives complete the challenge of taking 290,000 steps in February, each school will receive $1,000 for equipment that will help students be physically active.

“The pressure is on this year,” Kauffman said. “Before, I never contacted them until after I knew I had made the mark. This year I reached out earlier.”

Steps for Schools encourages Idaho elected officials to get active, connect with their communities and earn funds for local schools. Kauffman, who is in his fourth term, has participated since the challenge began in 2015. Lickley, in her first term, has participated in both years she has been in office. This year, 59 elected officials are participating.

“I really look forward to February because I love that Steps for Schools motivates me to make certain that we are reaching our 10,000 steps each day,” Lickley says.

Both legislators have a plan. Kauffman likes to get out early and walk for 30-40 minutes in the morning and can usually reach the goal by the afternoon. If not, any evening events downtown he attends usually help him reach the 10,000 daily step goal.

“I always get up early and if I go for a walk or to the treadmill instead of the desk, then I’m investing in myself,” Kauffman said.

“The physical benefits are valuable, but sometimes the mental benefits are even better,” Lickley said.

She changes her approach during the legislative session. Back home, she runs or hikes 5-8 miles a day. While in Boise, she walks to and from her apartment that is about a half mile from downtown. She rarely takes the elevator, logging extra steps taking the stairs to the different levels of the Capitol. If she needs additional steps, she gets them on the weekends at home when she typically will log 15,000 or more steps a day.

“Both of us are agriculturists, farmers and ranchers, and I think incentives are a big thing for us,” Lickley said. “The incentive to grow a good crop, incentives to get up early and work harder are just part of our nature. This inspires us to keep true to who we are and have the motivation to get out there. We’re big goal setters and we like a vision and a plan.”

The plan is to present $1,000 checks to each school to give local kids new equipment that will help them be physically active. The legislators will visit the schools together and talk to the students about the importance of being active. That message already is being received.

“When I told the Buhl superintendent I was doing this, he told the principal, and then I got an email from her and one from a teacher saying the kids were going to follow my lead and walk,” Kauffman said. “So they are now walking laps at recess.”