Bob Corbin lost his wife to cancer in 2017 and was looking for an activity that aligned with his active lifestyle.
Well, Corbin needed a little push from family members. And he said he’s glad they encouraged him to get out and engage with members of the South Carroll Senior & Community Center. Corbin found a bunch of liked-minded seniors who met each week to walk and socialize.
“You need human contact,” Corbin said. “So I joined this group. I walked all the time, so they put me in charge of doing this. And it’s just, to me, amazing.”
Corbin, now 84, lives in Sykesville on the Howard County side. But he leads a group called Walkie Talkies and said it has increased in size since he came on three years ago. Corbin said his goal is to have the group number get to 100, even if only a dozen or so meet up and walk together.
Several Walkie Talkies faithful gathered Thursday afternoon at Howard County Conservancy in Woodstock for a 2- to 3-mile trek. Off the pavement, as Corbin says, is one of the group’s occasional activities. And pets are allowed, which is what had Liz Fite of Sykesville enjoying the sun and unseasonably warm temperatures.
Fite, 64, said she was first introduced to the walking group when she joined a Tuesday morning outing with Tri Sport Junction in Sykesville. There she met Bob, and soon Fite was a regular with the Walkie Talkies and had her rescue dogs, Oliver, and Kiwi, in tow.
“It’s been really good, especially during the pandemic,” Fite said. “Because a lot of older people don’t have a lot of things like this. [Corbin] calls it the Walkie Talkies ... sometimes we do more ‘talkie’ than ‘walkie.’ ”
Fite said she has bonded with other walking members who have been dealt similar life changes. Corbin has been widowed for a few years, and Fite said another member recently lost a spouse. She calls herself a “longtime widow” since losing her spouse about 11 years ago.
But the walking group fosters new relationships, and Corbin said that’s one of the perks of joining.
Andy Becker, 83, lives in Eldersburg and said he enjoys getting out to local and state parks and places like the Conservancy, located at Mount Pleasant Farm and spanning some 230 acres.
Corbin said the Walkie Talkies try to get together on Wednesdays or Thursdays, and when possible take to more rural sites such as Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area in Baltimore County and Patapsco Valley State Park. But paved trails are usually better suited for the age bracket, Corbin said.
“It is a senior group, you know. [But] I’d sign up anybody who wants to sign up,” Corbin said. “I got a call [Thursday] morning from a lady from Mount Airy. I said, ‘that’s a ways to come,’ so I don’t know if she’ll be here or not.”
Corbin said there are new faces from time to time, but most weeks the regulars make sure to show up. He’s hoping more members take advantage of the weather and get outside when they can.
People were a little hesitant in the early stages of the pandemic, but since then Corbin said he has seen his group create more interest in walking.
“I cajoled people to come out, saying that, surely you know that it’s healthy to be outside,” he said. “At first, they wore masks. That lasted about a half-a-mile. And then the masks came off, and as far as I know none of us have ever caught [COVID-19]. ...