‘I Feel Good:’ Kamiah Mayor Sees Health Benefits While Supporting Her Community

Kamiah Mayor Betty Heater makes a T-shirt each year with the Kamiah Cubs logo on it for the Mayor’s Walking Challenge. She has successfully completed the challenge each year since 2018 by averaging more than 10,000 steps per day in October.

Passion to create opportunities for kids to be active motivates her to walk more than usual

Kamiah Mayor Betty Heater doesn’t call herself an avid walker — except in October.

Mayor Heater puts on her walking shoes each fall to participate in the Mayor’s Walking Challenge, a Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health program that encourages Idaho mayors to be physically active, be a champion for health, and earn money for their community. She has participated each year since 2018 when the challenge became a statewide event.

“I enjoy it,” Mayor Heater said. “I feel like, as a leader, anything that you can do for your community that’s simple and healthy, you should do it.”

The motivation to join the challenge was the $1,000 she could earn to benefit the youth in her city and serve as a good example. Kamiah residents can see their mayor walking in the city wearing a custom Kamiah Cubs T-shirt that includes the Mayor’s Walking Challenge.

“As a mom, you tell your kids it’s important to eat healthy and be active,” she said. “But we have to show them. It’s important for us as adults to do that. We have to practice what we preach.”

The mayor used the $1,000 she earned in 2018 and 2019 to enhance equipment in the city park, including fixing a spring for the frog swing. The funds from 2020 and this year are going toward swim lessons and passes for the city pool. Kamiah hasn’t had a city pool since 2013, so she’s happy to see children will have another place to be active.

“My ultimate goal as mayor was to get the pool open,” she said, adding that it was a collaborative effort between the city, the save-the-pool committee, Upper Clearwater Committee Foundation and Clearwater Economic Development Association that helped earn a block grant for the project. “We all worked together. We’re hoping to have a huge grand opening in June.”

As October winds down, Mayor Heater isn’t seeing a finish line like she has in previous Mayor’s Walking Challenges. She made a deal with her son that she would keep walking after the challenge ended if he would do his scheduled workouts as well.

“We’re challenging ourselves and will support each other,” she said. “I need to keep walking. It’s good for me. I feel way better in October because I am walking. I feel good.”