Cleo Gallegos Participates in the Mayor’s Walking Challenge to Earn Money for Elementary School

Heyburn is a city in Minidoka County in Southern Idaho.


October has taken on a new meaning for Heyburn Mayor Cleo Gallegos in recent years.

What used to be known as the last month before skiing season, it’s now a month where she can earn funds for her community in the Mayor’s Walking Challenge.

Heyburn Mayor Cleo Gallegos

Cleo has participated in the annual event put on by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health for the past two years, and she earns $1,000 for her community if she averages 10,000 steps per day in October.

“I think knowing that you have to reach a certain goal each day helps you,” Cleo says. “This gets me out walking, which I enjoy. The biggest reason I like this is to give something back.”

Cleo designates her funds to Heyburn Elementary School, where it helps purchase equipment kids can use during recess and physical education classes.

Cleo knows the value of being active and she instills that to the students at the elementary school when she walks with them. For her, being active has been easy and a lifelong happening.

“I hardly sit still,” she says. “I prefer to be outdoors either walking or doing yard work.”

Skiing was Cleo’s passion for years. She spent more than 20 years on the ski patrol at nearby Pomerelle Ski, including one term as the organization’s director. In addition to the exercise, she enjoys the solitude.

“I’ve always said that’s my psychiatrist, when you’re up there you forget the world,” she says. “That and yard work.”

Cleo, who is in her fourth year as mayor and is running for a second term, also spent 16 years on the city council. She likes the momentum the city has in terms of connectivity with nearby communities Rupert and Burley. Cleo was raised in Rupert and has lived in Heyburn since she was married. Prior to becoming mayor, she had a home decorating business and worked in the school district.

“We’re really one big community, and I think people in this area are fairly active,” she says, pointing out that you can cross the river to connect Heyburn’s recently extended walking path to Burley’s. The communities also share team sport amenities, such as ballfields and the inline skate hockey rink.

One goal she has for Heyburn is to increase opportunities for kids to be active.

“We really do lack in recreation for the kids,” she says. “We really need to put more playground equipment over at the ballfield and get it a little more kid friendly. We’ve got a lot of things in the works as far as grant writing in 2020 and hoping we can carry them on.”

The inline hockey rink is located at the Heyburn City Park.