In 2011, 38-year Kingwood resident Charlie Armstrong lost his wife Ilean. After 65 years of marriage, he found himself lost and lonely, but not ready to give up. As a World War II paratrooper, he was determined to do something, so he began walking the mall at Kingwood Medical Center. As Mr. Armstrong says, “You can’t beat the weather. The temperature is always nice and you don’t have to worry about the rain.” According to Mr. Armstrong, 7 laps equals 3 miles, which he does five days a week. In the beginning, he was walking every day, but his doctor of 20 years, Salvador Recio encouraged him to pace himself.
Mr. Armstrong believes that this has had a positive impact on both his physical and mental health. He meets friends along the way, Alicia Barker, Kingwood Medical Center employee for one. She states “I met Mr. Charlie as I was out walking one day. In our conversation he shared with me that he is 95 years old and walks 3 miles a day. I told him that I needed to get back in a good walking routine. He told me what a difference it has made for him and encouraged me to get going. Mr. Charlie has been an inspiration to me to walk regularly on my lunch break. I can be sure I will see him each day and he will be waving and smiling with patients, volunteers and employees alike.”
When asked how long it takes him to walk the seven laps, Mr. Armstrong says, “well, it depends on how many times I stop.” He takes a break to speak to other walkers, Kingwood Medical Staff, volunteers, and patients. Everyone knows Mr. Charlie and he seems to know them. Tiffany Thomasson and Vicki Sheldon, nurses in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Department, have known him since the beginning, and even recruited him to join the Kingwood Medical Center team at the Greater Lake Houston Heart Walk last year. Tiffany stated “Mr. Charlie is such an inspiration. He is so friendly, takes time to talk with me any time he sees me in the hall and asks how my day is going. He knows my daughter’s name and asks how she is doing. He said his cardiologist says he keeps getting healthier. I am one of Kingwood Medical Center’s team captains for the Greater Lake Houston Heart Walk, and he was on our team.”
“We are so happy to be able to offer this safe space at Kingwood Medical Center for people to walk in comfort,” said Melinda Stephenson, Kingwood Medical Center Chief Executive Officer. “I see many of the same people every day. It’s not only great exercise, but a social activity.”