With her blue boat shoes on, Trula Wood walks the halls of Emeritus at Burr Ridge.
Talking to fellow residents of the senior living center as she goes, Wood moves at a pace far quicker than you would expect for a woman who will turn 87 on Aug. 2 and uses a walker. She is continually asked by her peers what lap she is on as she makes her daily 11-lap circuit around the care facility. She stops and sits in a hallway chair when tired, but those breaks are normally far and few between for Wood as when she gets going, she keeps going.
Her walker is even equipped with a bell, and the spunky Tennessee native is not afraid to use it if someone is in her way.
“Sure, I use it,” Wood said. “Some of the residents don’t like it very much.”
Wood makes 11 laps around the building every day, equating to a mile of walking. She is on track to top the 150-mile mark by the end of August.
She is normally accompanied by Laurie Dorgan, life assistance coordinator at the center. Dorgan said she has lowered her blood pressure through her walks with Trula.
Dorgan says there has to be something magical about those blue boat shoes.
“She has not gone through one pair of shoes yet, I’ve gone through three,” Dorgan said.
Wood just smiles.
“I stole them from my daughter,” Wood said with a smirk.
Wood being able to walk a mile a day is remarkable considering she almost didn’t survive a car accident 17 months ago. The accident, which took the life of her husband of 65 years, left Wood in a coma for weeks. She had broken ribs, swelling on the brain and could only eat pureed food for six weeks.
Her daughter and son-in-law, Pat and Jim Canaday, 26-year residents of Burr Ridge, went to Tennessee to help Wood start the recovery process. They then moved her to Emeritus so they could be closer to her.
Wood’s physical therapy at Emeritus included exercises and walking. Once she got walking, she kept increasing her distance around the facility.
When Wood topped 50 miles, it was noted that no one at the facility had ever done that. Wood passed the 100-mile mark on July 1 and had residents and staff cheering her along as she went. Dorgan noted they have walked the equivalent of a trip to Milwaukee. Wood’s next goal is to walk the equivalent of going to her home in Tennessee, 600 miles.
“She would walk to Tennessee,” Dorgan said. “It would take us a couple years, and I would have to bring the coats, but she would do it.”
Wood’s family will be getting her a pedometer so she can walk outside in the nice weather.
Kathy Russell, life enrichment director at Emeritus, said Wood shares her enthusiasm for fitness with other residents.
“She wants others to get involved. She tries to get others to exercise with her,” Russell said.
Pat Canaday said her mother’s constant energy is nothing new. She said her mother would travel 11 hours to Burr Ridge from Tennessee and then make a full dinner for her family before they got home.
“She would never sit down from morning ’til night,” Canaday said. “She would do everything. She would garden, clean the house, make food.”
While often in motion, Wood does take time out to rest. She has laid claim to a chair in the main gathering area at the Burr Ridge facility.
“They know it is my chair,” Wood smiles, “but still some of them sit in it. I tell them to get out!”