Dan Pierson values the exercise and the opportunity to engage with his community during the Mayor’s Walking Challenge

Shoshone Elementary School fourth graders celebrate after their walk with Mayor Dan Pierson.

Shoshone Mayor Dan Pierson is a regular participant in the Mayor’s Walking Challenge, an annual October event put on by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health to promote the importance of physical activity.

Dan, a lifelong resident of Shoshone who has been mayor for four years, has earned the $1,000 award for his community each year he’s walked by averaging 10,000 steps per day in October. The money is something his community needs, and he jokes that he needs the exercise almost as much. He’s an avid fisherman and hunter.

“You can look at me and say that I need to be inspired and get active,” Pierson jokes. “And this definitely inspires me. Hopefully it’ll catch on and I’ll keep going past October this year.”

Mayor Dan Pierson with fourth graders at Shoshone Elementary School.

Dan walks during his two daily breaks from his fulltime job – he’s a Business Operations Manager for the Idaho Transportation Department based in Shoshone. He also enjoys walking around town in the evenings. If that isn’t enough, he’s got a treadmill at home that gets put to good use in October.

The challenge also provides Dan a chance to connect with his community, especially the school in town. Shoshone has a K-12 school, plus an alternative high school. During the Mayor’s Walking Challenge, mayors are awarded bonus steps each day that they walk with elementary school kids.

Dan finds that his time with the kids are more important than the bonus steps.

“I listen to the kids,” he says. “They’ve got some interesting stories. I talk to them about the importance of physical activity, too.”

He’s seen some cool things happen in October.

“There was this little girl that just wouldn’t participate in the walk,” he says. “The teacher really struggled with her. For whatever reason, we bonded. She was like me, a little overweight. But she started walking, and I went to the school almost every day, and by the end of the month her pants had gotten so loose. That was pretty cool – we made an impact.”

Shoshone Mayor Dan Pierson likes to bring police officers with him when he walks to show students that the officers are friendly, approachable and there for kids.

Dan also uses his visits to the school to bring Shoshone police officers. By having officers walk and with the children, it breaks down the barrier that sometimes exists between law enforcement and civilians. He remembers an incident a few years ago that makes him try to have at least one officer walk with the children every time he visits.

“There was one kid that was physically scared to death of our officers — he would hide when he showed up,” Dan recalls. “But after a few weeks of walking, he was their best buddy. That’s why I like to have officers walk with me.”

Dan also is thankful for the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health and the funds it has provided the community. In addition to the Mayor’s Walking Challenge funds, the city received a grant for $10,000 to install a disc golf course in the city park and also a three-hole course at the school.

Mayor Dan Pierson enjoys walking with students from Shoshone Elementary School.