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.
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. She has designed wellness programs for the JCC Association of North America and Atlantic Health.
Risa, and illustrator Carol Hsuing, recently published their first book, "Why Walk.", a book of motivational pages that will get everyone walking.
Being a proud resident of Maplewood, 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 past recipient of the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year Award” (2014) and honored as a “Maple Leaf Award” for her continued involvement in community health activities. 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.”
Yohana Osorio - Trustee & Communications Director
Yohana joined Freewalkers in 2012 after moving to Maplewood and trying to meet new friends who enjoyed the outdoors. She was immediately hooked after an attempt at completing the Lenape Trail walk (34 miles). She had completed some of the Adirondaks high peaks and was very attracted to this walk as it goes through a local reservation, neighborhoods and parks.
Yohana is a graduate of Corsakas College of Business at William Patterson University and is a paralegal professional for an insurance defense firm. Much of her free time she spends working with teens and pre-teens.
Yohana is our online social network manager and is developing programs to expand Freewalkers for all ages and various groups. Currently, she is heading the Freewalkers interest group for family activities as well as leading the Stroll & Roll family event.
Why I walk...
"I sit in front of a computer all day, everyday. I am now more mindful about healthy habits. Walking is so easy and cost efficient. Just go! No equipment is necessary. I have come to realize that I can go anywhere I want if I just start walking in that direction. We owe it to ourselves to take care of the perfectly designed machine we call “our body.”
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."
Ed Purcell - Trustee & Treasurer
Ed has been a long distance walker since the freshman year of high school when he joined the school’s hiking club. The club’s goal was originally to get members to walk 50 miles in a day. Having completed 50 miles on several occasions, the club set their sights on 70 miles and on one occasion even 80 miles in a day.
After high school graduation, Ed took a break from long distance walking. Needing a challenge, he took up running and ran several marathons. He also decided climbing the high points of the 50 states would be another worthwhile endeavor (30 done). Ed, now retired, worked as an auditor for the government, which allowed him to travel around the world. He realized; having walked in places as varied as Mt Fuji, the Golden Gate Bridge and the towpath along the Rhine that walking is the best way to see a location.
When at home, Ed and his wife Ellen try and walk around their neighborhood of Summit everyday. In 2016, Ed’s sister told him of a group that sponsored 50-mile walks. Almost 40 years since he left high school, he found himself walking the 50 again!
Why I walk...
"More or less something I just do. Probably parts challenge, exercise, exploring new areas and spending time with likeminded people."
Charles Updike - Trustee & Region Director, Delaware Valley FreeWalkers
Charles is an active walking advocate and history buff who joined FreeWalkers in 2015 after searching for challenging walking events. While residing in Levittown, PA he participated in many events which soon led to his interest in expanding FreeWalkers to his area which includes eastern Pennsylvania, western New Jersey and Delaware.
Charles is renowned for his knowledge of local history and knowledge of the local interesting places which he shares on the numerous walks he organizes in the Delaware Valley area. Due to his vision, high energy and meticulous attention to detail, he's quickly organized and now heads FreeWalkers' first regional division.
Why I walk...
"I walk because it's a personal challenge and a thoughtful experience. It provides a way of immersing yourself in your environment. I really enjoy getting others to walk with me. Our walks provide an opportunity for many to be the best they can be."
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."