Donna Biggs (left) and Mary Margaret Drury go for a walk through an Owensboro neighborhood during their lunch break on Oct. 17, 2022. ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD | WKC
Stewarding the body and mind – one step at a time
BY ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
“You make your walks an adventure,” the late Bishop John J. McRaith once told Mary Margaret Drury many years ago, on the topic of the daily noon walks she takes with her friend and coworker Donna Biggs.
Drury and Biggs, who work at the McRaith Catholic Center (the central office of the Diocese of Owensboro) have gone walking at lunchtime for 47 years and have no plans of quitting the tradition anytime soon.
The two recently spoke with The Western Kentucky Catholic about their heart-healthy habit during one of these noon walks.
“It makes you feel good mentally and physically,” said Biggs, the MCC’s switchboard operator. She said daily walks can boost one’s mood, ease depression and help a person “feel better all around.”
Drury, the bookkeeper for the diocese’s finance office, agreed: “I feel good all afternoon after going on a walk.”
They see many people along their walks whom they have befriended over the years.
One such friend is named Charles. He often sits out on his front porch with his sister and calls a greeting out to Drury and Biggs as they walk by. Other times they see him around the neighborhood riding his bike.
“He calls me Mama,” said Drury.
They have found a lot of different things on their daily walks, from nails and screws – which Drury always picks up from the road to prevent them from puncturing tires – to money.
Occasionally they have discovered more than even money or nails.
“We were on a walk when we met my Moxie,” said Biggs of the stray dog they encountered that was running in the street one day, and whom Biggs later adopted when the animal shelter never found an owner. Moxie has now settled into her forever home with Biggs.
They have also found a lost driver’s license in the street. It was convenient that they walk past Audubon Area Community Services anyway, where they dropped off the license in case someone came looking for it.
They also walk past what they call “the cheapest gas station in town,” which sometimes sells barbecue outside. Once, the barbeque truck even gave them some delicious free samples.
The people of the neighborhood have come to expect and enjoy seeing Drury and Biggs regularly, and if one or the other is unavailable to walk that day, the neighbors ask after her. Once, Drury tripped and several neighbors ran out of their houses to help her up.
They have become such figures in the local area that sometimes people will approach them in the grocery store and say, “I see you on walks!”
The two been caught out in the rain multiple times, which doesn’t bother them too much. But when the weather is too bad for a walk, they might take an “off day,” which Drury said is nice because while they have a break, “you know you’ll go back out again tomorrow.”
Drury offered advice for people who are hoping to become more active.
“Start off small,” she said. “Whatever you get is better than nothing. It’s for the health of the mind and the body. Never be too hard on yourself or beat yourself up if you can’t do it, because tomorrow’s another day!”
Drury added that people all have different responsibilities and might be busy with work or small children, “but if all you get is five minutes, that’s good! It’s about finding time that works for you.”
She said in her experience many Americans struggle with depression to some extent and she suggested being active – like going for a walk – to help ease some of those feelings.
“It’s a sense of accomplishment and it keeps you moving,” she said. “I think of it as a stewardship of the body.”
Originally printed in the November 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.