Best FreeWalker Spirit 2015-16 - Ilene Silver Interview


Ilene Silver was interviewed by Risa Olinsky, FreeWalkers Vice President, on what makes her walk and what it means to be a FreeWalker.  


Risa: Ilene, How did you first learn about FreeWalkers?

It was by word of mouth! My friend and former neighbor, Nancy Jonap, raved about the group when I lived in Jersey City. Thank you, Nancy!

Risa:  What is it you love most about walking long distances?

Ilene: At a typical FreeWalker event the day is dedicated to a physical activity and being with friends. But these walks are much more. There are always surprises along the way. For example, the “1941 Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” plaque on the Route 1 bridge over the Passaic River that’s normally impossible to see – unless you walk past it. On our Camino Tour in Spain, a beautiful lost Boxer followed us 16 miles before we were able to find a rescue group to help get him back home. One other feeling I love is to be unplugged for the day! It’s not that you can’t be reached it’s that there’s more interesting things happening around you. For that day, the online world can wait.

Risa: You are both, a regular member and participant in FreeWalkers events, but also participate in other walking groups as well. What is it that makes FreeWalkers different from other groups?

Ilene: Organization, constant fun, even networking with other walkers – meeting new people! FreeWalkers partners with some really great sponsors such as James Gallagher, from Eastern Mountain Sports . He provides a complementary pop-up support tent for a couple of our walks. EMS also donates wonderful raffle prizes which I happened to have won a couple times. I’m a true fan of EMS. Then, there’s Mike Kruimer from the East Coast Greenway who provides rolling support for many walks with his truck loaded with bagels, water, bars, and fruit. When you are in a pinch and just can’t go that next mile, Mike and his wife Anne are there to help.

Risa: I know you love to stay fit and active. In addition to your walking what other activities do you love to do to stay healthy and fit?

Ilene: For 15 years I did long distance bike riding with the Five Borough Bike Club. I’m a certified Master Scuba Diver since 1994, my most memorable trip being Chuuk Micronesia, diving the Japanese wrecks of WW2. I’m a history fan and that was my trip of a lifetime. I love walking J.R., my little Australian Terrier, 3-4 times a day. Finally, in 1980 I made a New Year’s resolution to work out and I have stayed with it all these years. Most people ache if they do work out; I ache if I don’t workout. I love that.

Risa: What would you say to folks who might be new to FreeWalkers to help them feel comfortable with the group? 

Ilene: Keep in mind that at every FreeWalkers event there are options to walk less than the maximum distance. Walk within your comfort level. I started with 7 miles and gradually built up the distance. Walk as much as you can on a regular basis and as you get stronger and be able to do more. And, don’t worry about any social pressure. You can choose to walk with anyone or to walk alone. I have met some wonderful people over the years who are now close friends. I think the natural act of walking has something to do with it.


Back to 2015 Awards

Recent Events

Spring Ahead 2017

March 19, 2017 - Eight FreeWalkers walked the 12-miles from Trenton to Princeton on a day when winter would not let go. Snow covered trail and cold temps slowed down the trek but sun and good spirits were plentiful. 

See photos here

Roosevelt Island/Astoria 2017

March 4, 2017 - About 40 braved the mid-teens and walked across town to the tram. We explored the island and the FDR 4 Freedoms Monument and park. Eventually crossing the bridge to Queens for some middle-eastern sights, smells and tastes. Ending it all at the famous Czech Beer Hall. 

See photos here

See survey results here

Kennedy 50-Mile Walk 2017

February 4, 2017 - An event for history buffs and hardcore walkers. Our 4th walk along the C&O Canal in Maryland and West Virginia - just like Bobby Kennedy did in 1963. Chilly weather did not dampen the can-do spirit of 50 fellow walkers at our grand annual event.

Learn more>>
See photos here
See survey results here

TRAINing Walk 2017

January 28, 2017 - It's mid-winter and 75 hearty walkers show up at the Morristown train station. This year we went West to East and ended in a cozy bar called Coda. Special kudos to Madison Honda for their hospitatlity.

See photos here
See the survey results here.

Midnight March on Princeton


January 7, 2017 - The Midnight March was our first all-night walking event and first event for the new year. Six brave FreeWalkers played wannabe soldiers and stayed with the troops into battle.at daybreak.
Read the entire story here
See photos here

See the video!

Holiday Lights in Dyker Heights


December 16, 2016 - About a dozen FreeWalkers braved extreme cold and outmaneuvered rabid fans of the famous Brooklyn neighborhood. Thanks to Nakis Pericleous for leading us to the holiday kingdom.
See photos here

South Orange - Maplewood Walk & Year-end Party


December 4, 2016 - There were 35 FreeWalkers walking the grand and historic neighborhoods of South Orange and Maplewood followed by our year-end party and awards. Thanks to Risa Olinsky and David Ascher for a great day for a walk, celebration party and a start of the holiday season..
See photos here

Gobble-Gobble for MEND


November 25, 2016 - A crowd of about 40 walked off some turkey and at the same time helped the unfortunate in our communities by supporting MEND of Essex County - a food-bank charity that we support. Gobble-Gobble Walkers were asked to bring food and/or donate to help the hungry.
See photos here

Stroll & Roll - Union County


November 6, 2016 - Familes and FreeWalkers enjoyed a great fall day in Echo Lake Park, Mountainside, NJ as we got about 200 participants strolling and rolling. Kids had as much fun as adults enjoying the games, mild temps and colorful leaves on our first-ever family walking event. Thank you sponsors and Risa Olinsky and Yohana Osorio for organizing!
See photos here

Philadelphia Marathon Walk

October 30, 2016 - Charles Upkike led about 20 FreeWalkers along the route of the Philadelphia Marathon, know for its scenery - especially this time of year.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow Walk

October 30, 2016 - Rick Mohovich led about a dozen FreeWalkers around the Tarrytown area in a walk that passed through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery of Wahington Irving fame.

Tour of Brooklyn - Coney Island


October 29, 2016 - 25 FreeWalkers walked from the New City waterfront to Coney Island on our annual tour of a different section of Brooklyn each year. Always popular and interesting, we enjoyed great weather and scenery as we walked the greenway trail, including under the Verrazano Bridge. Thanks leader Nancy Jonap!
See photos here

Autumn on the Delaware Series


October 20-23, 2016 - Four consecutive days, 120 miles. Walking from York PA to Frenchtown. FreeWalkers walked in support of Jim Gregoire, a FreeWalker and man on a mission to walk the entire US East Coast. Charles Updike, FreeWalkers PA Regional director organized this series of walk to keep him company and provide a great reason to visit the Delaware River area.
See photos here

Sailung Nepal Trek


October 3-16, 2016 - Two weeks trekking te foothills of the Himalayas. Sydney Frymire of Trek of Your Life (TOYL), a FreeWalker and experienced hiker and traveler organizes trips to Nepal which include a bit of volunteerism and plenty of incredible sights.
See photos here

Lenape 34


October 10, 2016 - On Columbus Day each year we brave the wilds of Essex County and travel through five reservations, 8 parks a dozen or so towns as we walk from Millburn to Cedar Grove, Montclair and Newark as we follow the Lenape Trail for 34 miles in our most diverse walk.
See photos here

Endless Summer Walk


September 24, 2016 - Once again we tried our best to hold on to summer and made a 30-mile trek along the bayshore and oceanside from Matawan to Sandy Hook to Asbury Park. Great conditions again this year for a beautiful walk and one of our most popular.
See photos here

Tour of Boston

September 17, 2016 - Fran Price, our FreeWalker leader in Boston, put together a great tour of the highlights of Boston. We walked from South Boston to Copley Square, mostly following the water and the historic trail.
See photos here

Providence - Boston Expedition

Providence to Boston July 23 to July 29 - Loredana, Ken and Nancy have finished thier 110 mile week-long expedition on the ECGA.

Read Loredana's story on why she walks the expedition each year.

See Loredana's 7-day Photo Journal

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