On April 21, 2011, Dennis “Denny” Schoenthaler and his wife, Ginger, came to the Foundation office and told about a dream Denny had for his community. Denny wanted a walking trail that would be somewhere other than in the middle of the street, that would be open to the community and be able to be used at any time by anyone.
Ginger explained that Denny loved to walk and was logging 5 or more miles per day before his cancer slowed him down. Denny and Ginger asked if the Community Foundation could help make this dream a reality, and if the Foundation could help, could they designate Denny’s memorial funds to the campaign. The Schoenthaler’s worked with the Foundation to set up a designated fund that would in time, receive memorial funds and other donations for the creation of a walking trail.
Denny lost his battle with lung cancer on May 20, 2011.
In the Fall of 2011, the Community Foundation approached the Fort Hays State University Leadership Studies classes to ask for a team of students that would help in the creation, location and completion of Denny’s dream. An eager team of 5 students picked the Walking Trail for their class project and the trail began in earnest. The first section of the trail was dug and concrete was poured in October and November, 2011. The first Annual Dennis Schoenthaler Memorial Walk/Run was held and raised over $200 to support the trail.
Since the trail did not reach full completion, a Spring FHSU Leadership Studies Team was sought. The Spring team has continued work on the trail and promoting healthier lifestyles for the Ellis community members.
In order to spread Denny’s healthy lifestyle, the Spring FHSU Team held a Health Fair in conjunction with the Trego Co. Hospital and Ellis Family Care Center. Many visitors learned various ways to take small steps toward healthier living.
The Walking Trail was completed in 2012.