TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation is expanding the Konrad Holmes Memorial Trail that will stretch a mile and a half around the W. W. Keeler Tribal Complex to offer Cherokee citizens and public a place to walk, jog or run as part of the tribe’s recent public health and wellness initiatives.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed the Public Health and Wellness Act earlier this year that dedicates $9 million to $12 million per year to provide Cherokee citizens with access to substance abuse treatment centers, wellness centers and walking trails. On Monday, Cherokee Nation leaders and Konrad’s family broke ground on the trail expansion.
“Deputy Chief and I believe that health care is more than just routine physical check ups. It’s also about taking care of yourself and your mental state, and having these designated sites to help our citizens with a more holistic health approach is extremely important,” Chief Hoskin said. “This walking trail is one project of a large expansion plan for wellness centers, more trails and more mental health treatment services to serve our people.”
The walking trail was initially dedicated in 2003 and named after Cherokee citizen Konrad Holmes. Under the act, it’s currently under expansion.
Holmes, a Sequoyah High School student passed away in 2004 after a battle with a rare form of cancer. He was 19. Holmes was a runner and on the high school’s track and field and cross-country teams.
His mom, Penny Holmes said, “running was one of the things that kept him grounded, it was the normal part” during his time with cancer.
Penny Holmes recalled when the trail was initially dedicated, that her son felt honored and grateful, but a bit unworthy because he knew others were out there suffering.
“I’m very honored and blessed to have this and be able to go there and walk and know that’s where he walked and ran. We’ll feel that closeness,” Penny Holmes said. “With everything the Nation is doing, from me personally, and on behalf of my family and so many others, thank you.”
The Konrad Holmes Memorial Trail is located between the Cherokee Nation W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex and the Sequoyah High School Campus and is currently in its first phase. The trail expansion will begin with a loop around the One Fire Field. In phase two and three, the trail will connect behind the complex, looping around the pond and Heirloom Garden and continue back to the southwest One Fire Field. Concrete from the former Cherokee Casino Tahlequah parking lot under construction for the new Durbin Feeling Language Center is being reused as the gravel for the trail.
Under Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner’s Public Health and Wellness Act plans to build more walking trails at different Cherokee Nation Health facilities throughout the reservation, a wellness center in Stilwell, new wellness center in Tahlequah and more are to come.