Great Lakes Seaway Trail boardwalkers; photo: George FischerSackets Harbor, N.Y. - After just one organizing meeting, the new Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association already has some officers and 14 charter members. Residents of Sackets Harbor, NY, and Watertown, NY, became the first to join the new initiative expected to attract members from the byway's 86-some shoreline communities located along the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River, and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania.   The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is one of America's Byways, a National Recreation Trail, and a state bicycle route in both New York and Pennsylvania. The new club will apply for American Volkssport Association sanction for a Trailwide system of walks and events.   Faith Lustik, Health Planner for the Jefferson County Public Health Service, will serve as Vice President for the new association. Inger Curth, a retired Jefferson Community College Librarian, will serve as the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association's first Secretary. An organizing committee will fill other officer positions and is developing by-laws.   Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Initiative Coordinator Daryl Giles will serve as Trailmaster. Giles first learned of volkssports in Germany when her husband was stationed there with the military. As Trailmaster, she will develop walking plans in collaboration with the byway's community leaders and walking enthusiasts.   The initial focus of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Trailwide Volkssport Association will be on establishing community-led Volksmarching (walking) events throughout the 518 mile-long coastal region.   The theme of the first series of walks for the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association is expected to celebrate the byway region's War of 1812 history. Giles has already met with leaders of two upstate New York AVA-sanctioned clubs: the Niagara Frontier Volkssport Club and the Niagara Escarpment Volkssport Association, Buffalo.   "We are thrilled to support the establishment of a Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association and to add our Buffalo area Volksmarch events to the Trailwide initiative," says Niagara Escarpment Volkssport Association President Dorothy Socie.   Niagara Frontier Volkssport Club President Barbara Stafford says, "We look forward to joining the Great Lakes Seaway Trail club for events in Sackets Harbor and to adding our events to the exciting lineup of new walking opportunities that this Great Lakes Seaway Trail initiative represents."   Walks of 3.1 miles (5 km) or 6.2 miles (10km) may be enjoyed at one's own pace individually, as families or groups, or with a pet where permitted. Participants can have their logbooks validated at sanction events and earn pins, patches or souvenir tokens for a certain number of events or distance covered.   The Volkssport concept represents the opportunity for all people to engage in healthy activity that encourages fitness. The term encompasses non-motorized, non-competitive activities including walking, bicycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.   "The pace of the Volksmarching walks fits perfectly with the Great Lakes Seaway Trail motto of exploring our byway ‘in your own time, at your own pace, and in your own style'," Mitchell says.   "If this healthy "let's get up and move" initiative grabs the public's attention as much as the Great Lakes Seaway Trail geocaching adventure that began in 2010, we expect to see a similar positive impact on our byway communities Trailwide," Mitchell adds.   The Sackets Harbor, NY, home to the Great Lakes Seaway Trail headquarters and the Seaway Trail Discovery Center, had an active Volksmarch walking club known as the North Country Wanderers from 1975 to 2007.   The next meeting dates for the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association are 5pm gatherings at the Seaway Trail Discovery Center on Tuesday, January 25th and Tuesday, February 22nd. Anyone interested in attending the meetings or learning more about the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association may call 315-646-1000 x200 for details. Learn more about the Great Lakes Seaway Trail byway online at http://www.seawaytrail.com/.

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Contact:  Daryl Giles, Seaway Trail, Inc., 315-646-1000 x200 Photo: Great Lakes Seaway Trail boardwalkers; photo: George Fischer