GROVE, Okla. — “Put one foot in front of the other” is more than a line from a famous Christmas song for one Northeast Oklahoma man.
It’s how Dale Lowe of Grove accomplished his 2019 goal — to walk 2,000 miles.
Lowe completed his task on Friday, Dec. 13. The next day, he was joined by a group of family and friends as he took a celebratory lap around the Grove Sports Complex track.
“In spite of everything that may come your way, keep on,” Lowe said. “Even when things get bad, there will be better days.”
Behind the goal
At 67, Lowe is a fixture within the Grove community. He can often be seen walking from place to place, volunteering at Grove Public Library, Grove Nursing Center, Good Shepherd Hospice or in the children’s ministry at First Christian Church.
He can also be found attending Ridgerunner sporting events. In fact, Lowe earned the moniker “No. 1 fan” from then-coach Donnie Pennington after attending many Ridgerunner baseball games.
He credits his stamina, saying 67 is “just a number, and I don’t have to worry about a number.”
Last year, thanks to all of his activities, Lowe walked 1,000 miles between June and December.
“I didn’t have a goal in 2018; I was just walking,” Lowe said. “When I got to December, I thought I might hit 1,000. I did on Dec. 31. So then I set a goal to hit 2,000 miles this year.
“I knew I would need to average 51/2 miles per day. I started doing 8 to 9 miles, which let me beat the average.”
While friends and co-workers give him a ride to and from the nursing center each day, Lowe walks most other places. He completes much of his walking in the early morning hours at the sports complex track by the Grand Lake Family YMCA.
On Aug. 31, Lowe set his record for the most miles in one day — 11.87 miles. It included a trip to the Grove Public Library and Walmart as well as walking the nursing center’s hallways. He capped off that day by walking to the middle school to watch a football game, then to downtown Grove for some pizza.
“I set a goal, and I was able to achieve it,” Lowe said. “How many people my age even try to do that? This keeps my health good.”
Lowe said he goes through three to four pairs of inexpensive tennis shoes each month. He tries to buy several pairs at a time, saying he often wears out the left shoe quickly because of the way he walks.
More about Lowe
A 1971 graduate of Miami High School, Lowe said his family has lived between Northeast Oklahoma and Southwest Missouri for much of his life. He graduated in 1973 from Northeast Oklahoma A&M with a degree in accounting and computer science. After a year at Central State University in Edmond, he transferred to Oklahoma Christian University, where he graduated in 1978 with a Bible degree.
Before moving to Grove, he lived on a farm near Anderson, raising hogs, chickens and other animals with his parents, Mary and Adrain Lowe. He also worked at a variety of jobs. After his dad died in 1987, he continued to help his mom with the farm.
Problems related to severe asthma and issues stemming from his birth allowed him to go on disability in 2006.
“When I was born, the intern pushed me back into my mom (to delay the birth),” Lowe said.
The injury caused him to walk with a hunched back and with a curved left foot.
Lowe and his mother moved to Grove in 2007 when it became too difficult to keep up the farm. On New Year’s Eve 2008, Lowe’s mom fell and fractured her hip.
In early January 2009, she was taken to Grove Nursing Center for rehabilitation care. She later developed pneumonia and died in April 2009.
Because Lowe was spending time with his mom at the center, he decided to volunteer. He will begin his 11th year of service in January.
“I help with bingo, help carry stuff, do the mail and really anything they need me to do,” Lowe said. “It gives me something to do. The important thing is it keeps me busy, and I know it makes a difference in so many people’s lives.”
Having hit his 2019 mark, Lowe said he plans to keep things simple for 2020’a goals.
“Each year, I work to have a better year than before,” Lowe said. “I have a goal to do all the good I can, for as long as I can. Every day I start off praying, thanking God for giving me another day to do good. I’m hoping I have several more years to do this.”
As of now, he doesn’t plan to set a walking goal. Rather he just plans to see how many miles he can accumulate in 2020.
“Walking is a good way to relax, and it helps me have a better start in my day,” Lowe said. “It’s a good health practice.”