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Parks and Recreation

215 Church Ave., S.W., Room 303
Whitney Slightham
Marketing and Outreach Coordinator
[email protected]

Friday, Sept. 2, 2016

Mayor Lea Launches New Parks and Recreation Dog Walking Wellness Initiative

Roanoke, VA – Mayor Lea introduced a new local dog walking wellness program called Marla’s Miles this morning at Highland Park. The City of Roanoke’s Department of Parks and Recreation has teamed up with Angels of Assisi to encourage volunteers to get outdoors and walk a dog from the shelter before work, on lunch break, or after work. The program was first developed by City employee, Marla Robertson, who adopted a rescue hound named Gabby.
Every mile walked counts helps support the shelter. Local businesses are supporting the program by donating walking harnesses to the dogs based on volunteer mileage. When the dog is adopted, their new family will receive the harness as a gift. Other local businesses in the downtown area will set up checkpoint stations, where program participants can stop for water and dog snacks. Parks and Recreation staff liaise with local sponsors and help the walkers track their miles while offering wellness tips, encouragement and suggested walking routes.
“Marla’s Miles benefits Angels of Assisi, the dogs, the volunteers, and our community by promoting optimal wellness through walking,” said Maurissa Mursch-Medina, fitness and aquatics program supervisor, Roanoke Parks and Recreation. “We want people to get outside, explore downtown Roanoke and breathe in some fresh air while walking a furry friend.”
All volunteer walkers need to attend orientation at Angels of Assisi before getting started. The first orientation session is set for Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 5:15 p.m. All of the dogs are ready for adoption, which means they are spayed or neutered and up-to-date on shots. Once a Marla's Miles participant completes the training, they will be paired with a dog that matches their walking pace. Walkers can meet their friends at Angels of Assisi any time after 9 a.m., as long as the dogs are back by 5:30 p.m.

Marla's Miles runs from Sept. 1 through Nov. 23, and will resume again in the Spring. To learn more, visit 

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