A day of outdoors: Dominion Trail Mix comes to Northern Virginia

June 22, 2011

Virginia’s first lady wants the state’s residents to help spruce up a community trail, and be entertained while doing it.

Maureen McDonnell on Wednesday announced the first Dominion Trail Mix, an outdoor community event to be held Sept. 3 that will combine a trail cleanup, race and community festival to highlight healthy living and environmental stewardship along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

In the morning, volunteers will pick up trash and will weed and plant along the trail that stretches from Shirlington in Arlington County to Purcellville in Loudoun County.

At the Great Skedaddle, bikers, runners and walkers of all ages will travel a portion of the same path Union troops took after the first Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861.

The day ends with TrailFest, a community celebration at Farmwell Station Middle School in Ashburn, with thousands of people expected to attend.

McDonnell, who will serve as honorary chair of the event, said she hopes it will be the largest beautification project in the trail’s history. The day-long celebration, estimated to cost $300,000, will be funded through Dominion Virginia Power’s philanthropic arm and other corporate donations, said Bob Sweeney with the Greater Washington Sports Alliance.

The event is part of McDonnell’s First Lady’s Initiatives Team Effort program, which recognizes community service in four areas: health and wellness, economic development, and opportunities for military families and women.

She joined Michelle Obama in January to kick off President Obama’s Let’s Move campaign against childhood obesity.

McDonnell, who said she remembers when the first portion of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail was first paved in the 1970s, said she tries to keep her five children engaged and active in sports and nature, as her parents did for her. The Dominion Trail Mix will “hopefully encourage people to live healthy, active lives,” she said.

Proceeds from race entry fees will benefit the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority’s “Nature Nuts Program,” which aims to bring 500,000 children into parks to learn about nature over the next five years.

Children who regularly get out and experience nature are more focused, less stressed and maintain a healthy weight, said Paul Gilbert, executive director of the park authority. Adults experience similar results, he said.

An estimated 2 million people per year use the Washington & Old Dominion trail, Gilbert said.

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