Gustavson Column: Get ready, set, step! (for the hospital)

Eastern Long Island Hospital's Paul Connor, president and CEO  and Dr. Anthony Mitarotondo, chief of radiology at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. (Credit: Courtesy Photo)
Eastern Long Island Hospital’s Paul Connor, president and CEO and Dr. Anthony Mitarotondo, chief of radiology at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. (Credit: Courtesy Photo)

This is to announce the periodic return, at least for the foreseeable future, of this column, along with the news that the former Joan Giger Walker and I hereby accept Eastern Long Island Hospital’s Fitness Challenge.

If you haven’t heard about it, the Challenge is an effort by the best little hospital in the land “to get people moving while using social media to encourage donations,” according to a recent article in this newspaper. “I am asking everyone to pledge to walk 10,000 steps (a day) in honor of the hospital’s 110-year anniversary,” ELIH CEO Paul Connor was quoted as saying in a press release. And Mr. Connor and the hospital’s chief of radiology, Dr. Anthony Mitarotondo, put their money where the mouths are when it comes to “get moving” by climbing the highest peak in Africa, 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro, this past October.

Joan and I — and another 100 or so supporters of the hospital — were filled in on the challenge and the conquering of Kilimanjaro at a “Grateful Gathering” Friday evening at Sparkling Pointe vineyard in Southold. Mr. Connor and Dr. Mitarotondo presented a slide show of their six-day trek, and Mr. Connor accepted a $20,000 donation to the hospital from Southold resident Mark Miller and his son, Evan, who “pledged a dollar to ELIH for each foot of their January climb of Ecuador’s highest peaks.”

Now that’s a challenge!

Joan and I may have our sights set on a slightly less lofty goal — perhaps something like Brown’s Hills in Orient — but we accept the Challenge nevertheless.

As follows: For each mile (or approximately 2,000 steps) each of us walks between last Friday and Labor Day, we pledge $5 to the hospital. So if we meet our personal goals of 4,000 steps a day, we’ll be writing a check for about $3,000 to the hospital come September. We realize that’s not nearly as generous as the Millers, but please remember that we are retirees living on a fixed income. (And any amount, no matter how small, will help meet the challenge.)

Joan plans to keep tabs on her steps using a neat iPhone app called Sports tracker, and I will rely on my Nike + Fuel Band, which tracks daily steps, calories burned and a mysterious metric called “Nike Fuel.” All I can tell you is that if I reach my daily goal of 2,000 units of “Nike Fuel,” I probably will have reached my goal of 4,000 steps/two miles.

I’d also like to issue a personal shout-out to any other Nike + Fuel Band users who might be reading this. As I understand it, there’s an easy online method, via Facebook, of finding friends who also use Nike +, so in theory we should be able to keep track on a daily basis of each other’s commitment to the Challenge. If interested, please shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] and we’ll try to figure it out.

In addition, according to an earlier article, the hospital is “asking participants to upload a video of their first 10 steps to Facebook, using the hashtag #ELIHFitness, and then challenge three others to either do the same or donate to the hospital through its website. Those who upload a video will win a free pedometer.”

The ultimate goal, according to the original press release, “is to raise $10,000 or reach 110 participants by Dec. 2, which is known as Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back.”

So, ladies and gentlemen, what say we start our engines for dear old ELIH.

[email protected]