Meet the Trustees

    Risa Olinsky - Trustee & Vice President

Risa Olinsky joined FreeWalkers in 2010 on a dare to walk 50 miles in one day. While completing only 11 miles that day, Risa was immediately hooked long-distance walking and has logged hundreds of miles since then. Risa is a certified health coach, personal trainer and group fitness leader with the American Council on Exercise. (ACE). She holds a Master’s degree in Adult Fitness Management from NYU and wellness-coaching certification with Wellcoaches Corporation. She has designed wellness programs for the JCC Association of North America and Atlantic Health.

Being a proud resident of Maplewood, Risa once wrote for “The Local”, a New York Times hyper-local blog. Risa’s current business “Count on Yourself Coaching” offers wellness coaching, fitness consulting services and motivational speaking engagements, with programs for individuals, groups, medical centers and corporations.

Risa is a founder of the community walking group SOMa on Foot (South Orange, Maplewood) and co-creator of Maplewood’s award-winning “Mayor’s Wellness Campaign”. She is a past recipient of the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year Award” (2014) and honored as a “Maple Leaf Award” recipient for her continued involvement in health activities benefitting her community. Risa is married to Mark Olinsky, an attorney and avid cyclist. They have two sons, Benjamin and Daniel; now living their own active lifestyles.

Why I walk...

“Walking is incredible therapy, both physically and mentally. I walk because I can; and if the day comes that I can’t, I’ll be truly grateful I did, while I could.”

    Albert Walker - Trustee & Treasurer

While Al Walker has always walked to a degree, at his 47 birthday he started stepping it up. He was haunted by a history of heart disease in the family and a desire to live the rest of his life fully, Over the past eleven years he has carried a pedometer and calculates he has taken over 90.7 million steps! Al is now one of our healthiest, strongest and fastest walkers we know.

Al enjoyed a successful career in health care management and helped create health plans in 34 markets for The Prudential around the country. He later formed PMC Consulting and assisted dozens of health plans and provider organizations manage change over the last 20+ years. Al has taken on most executive roles (CEO, COO, CFO and CIO) at various stages in his career. He has also helped many non-profits grow and succeed.

As Al likes to put it, “I’ve been ‘A. Walker’ since birth,” validating the fact that this comes naturally for him. Semi-retired now, Al can be found clocking over 10 miles walking each day. He is a graduate of Rutgers and currently lives in Bedminster, NJ and Hardeeville, SC.

Why I walk...

"There are many reasons, but one of the most important is to be around to enjoy his family. Some of his most important steps have been just a few dozen – walking his two daughters up the aisle at their weddings and walking with his two granddaughters the first time. Al walks to have more family milestone steps ahead."

    David K. Ascher - Trustee & Secretary

David Ascher, a life-long cyclist, converted over the last five years to a long-distance walker after trying one of FreeWalkers challenging events. David has long been active in civic and charitable affairs, sharing his knowledge and wisdom on organizational matters. He has designed bike routes for the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure rides, and has been a Trustee of the Achieve Foundation of South Orange and Maplewood, a Member of the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education, Secretary of the NJ Committee of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, and Secretary of Congregation Beth El.

David is an attorney specializing in corporate law. His wife Joani, is a successful author of mystery novels. Both have been fostering Seeing Eye puppies for the last 20 years since their daughter, Shonna, got them hooked. David received a BA from the University of Buffalo, a Masters in Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati, and a J.D. from the University of Buffalo School of Law.

Why I walk...

"Walking enables me to enjoy our beautiful natural environment while exercising, seeing things that one misses while driving, cycling, or running. To paraphrase Frank Zappa--good for your body, good for your mind, cucaracha."

    Paul Kiczek - Founder, Trustee & President

Paul is the founder of FreeWalkers and is both an avid walker and cyclist. He sees unique and complementary benefits for practicing both. He believes the power of motivation and suggestion lead to the best results in fitness, regardless of an individual's age.

A technology specialist and software entrepreneur, he currently manages multiple websites and social networks, while writing and blogging about the history, pain, pleasure and benefits of extreme walking and public pedestrianism. (Distant Thoughts – Tumblr) and (Walking History – WordPress)

Paul is a graduate of Rutgers where he earned his MBA in Finance and spent most of his career at HSBC heading a technology center. More recently he organized several business ventures, including Morris Internet Group, specializing in local and state government software applications. Paul also has previous experience developing and serving on a non-profit board.

Paul started FreeWalkers in 2009 in search of alternative exercise for the larger population. He formed a successful partnership with the East Coast Greenway Alliance which led to hosting multiple long distance walks in the unique open style of FreeWalkers. Paul’s vision is to grow and unite a larger community of walkers and to inspire other groups, such as children and seniors, to see the many benefits of walking.

Why I walk...

"I walk because nature invites us to. Walking is the most natural of exercises we can do.
I walk because I want to stay active. A healthy lifestyle begins with movement.
I walk because it makes me feel alive. Walking is an easy way of interacting directly with your environment and community."

Recent Events

Roebling Ramble 

June 17, 2017 - This event combined the history of the Roebling family (built the Brooklyn Bridge and many others) and their rise and fall and the town they created that represented an immigrant's dream 100-years ago.

Our 34 FreeWalkers continued another 13 miles to Trenton to experience a unique festival called Art All Night which offered a huge stage to experience live visual and audio art along with caravan of food trucks for 24-hours straight. The entire day was a unique and interesting experience in history and art.

Hudson River Loop 

June 10, 2017 - It turned out to be a great day for a great event. Our largest event yet with 125 participants. Many making it all the way to the end of 30-miles. If there was any particular challenge it was the heat building up but with some breeze to help as it reached the mid-80s.

This year to accommodate more challengers we expanded the support providing improved signage and a support stop near the GWB. Our thanks to the Hudson River Walkway Conservancy, East Coast Greenway, Shorewalkers and Metrotrails for helping make this a huge success for FreeWalkers and our United Walking effort.

Website Update here

Survey resultsTake Survey. 

Photos here

The Big Walk 2017

May 20, 2017 - Rain at the crack of dawn did nothing to stop 40+ FreeWalkers' at this 8th annual premier long distance event. Fortunately, the weather cooperated, mostly, and we had 11 finish the maximum 50-miles.

The walk from Metropark station to Penn Station NYC is a diverse challenge with many obstacles which draw the best of our long distance walkers.

Website Update here

Survey resultsTake Survey. 

Photos here

Between Walk 2017

April 15, 2017 - With a good temps but overcast skies 23. FreeWalkers walked the 12 miles from New Brunswick to Metropark station. This year's events included a new free bagel stop at Ruthie's in Highland Park and a great personal tour of the newly renovated Thomas Edison Center in Menlo Park.

Jack Shi's Excellent Adventure

Website Update here

Survey resultsTake Survey

Photos here

Great Canal Walk 2017

April 8, 2017 - It was a beautiful day for a walk with a taste of spring. FourWalkers walked the 40 miles from Trenton and 29 walkers favored the shorter, yet challenging 28 miles from Princeton to New Brunswick.

Website Update here

Survey results. Take Survey

Photos here

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 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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