Kevin Cobb a.k.a “Kernel Cobb” sells a rotating selection of fresh-popped kettle corn and fresh-squeezed “Lemon Shakeups” on the Mississippi Greenway beneath the Gateway Arch. After a year of historic flooding followed by a global pandemic, he is back for the third year as a Riverfront vendor.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to work in the shadow of the Arch. It’s an amazing structure that we locals sometimes take for granted. It looks different every single day. I have hundreds of pictures of the Arch on my phone because I am always trying to capture the way the light hits at different times. I also love meeting people from around the world. Last summer there were mostly visitors from just 4 or 5 hours away—it was the year of RV’s and campers! Sometimes we’re slammed with customers and other times we are slow—but we take it all in stride down here on the Mississippi River!”
Karlton Thornton is Great Rivers Greenway’s newest board member representing St. Louis County. He has dedicated thousands of hours to St. Louis area organizations and schools serving on the board of Hazelwood School District, The United Way, Annie Malone Children’s Home as a Child Advocate, Job Corps St. Louis Community Response Committee member, former Board member and Administrator advisor of Day Spring School of Arts and Education, The Black Rep and more. He is also a four-time cancer survivor. When you meet him, it’s hard to believe that he once weighed 300 pounds after a difficult recovery from cancer left him bedridden. He has survived cancer four times; Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma twice, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Melanoma. He shares why he said yes to serving on Great Rivers Greenway’s Board:
I remember feeling so sick I could not even walk down the hallway of my house. I decided to turn back to my childhood where I found energy and connection to nature through the joy of scouting, swimming and visits to my family’s farm. I wanted to tap into prayer and nature’s proven healing properties and get better so I could be there for my wife and daughters. Lucky for me, I lived close to the Sunset Greenway in Florissant. My recovery mirrored the progress of the first phase of the greenway as it was built from Sunset Park to St. Ferdinand Park. As construction progressed, I slowly started to walk from my house to the greenway. I would walk, and follow the path as it grew: one step at a time. I am so happy to be able to walk here with my family in good health…and to serve the agency that is connecting people to nature and the outdoors.
Home Greenway: Sunset!
Amy Marxkors is the co-host of the Charlie Brennan Show on KMOX, an author, a former hockey player and a marathon runner (occasionally ultra-marathoner!) She happily logs thousands of miles running on the greenways:
Mona Vespa is the President of GO! St. Louis. GO! is a local non-profit organization that encourages individuals and families in the #STL region to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle year round. They accomplish this through community collaborations, school-based programming and the creation of new and fun fitness events:
Kurt J. rolls all over the greenways on his ElliptiGO elliptical bike! Last fall, he placed 3rd in his age group at the World ElliptiGO Championships up Palomar Mountain in North San Diego County. Find out which greenway offered a steep enough hill for Kurt to train for the 11.69 mile route with a 5000 foot change in elevation. Any guesses? Watch the video and find out!
Home Greenway: All of them!
Bomi Park is the Assistant Project Manager for the World Trade Center St. Louis & St. Louis Mosaic Project. She is an unofficial “greenway ambassador” and enjoys introducing them to people who have come from around the world to live in St. Louis:
“Walking on the greenways reminds me where of where I come from. I think many other foreign-born people would agree that the Greenways are special to us for similar reasons. People walk and ride bikes more and drive less in South Korea, and the places for walking and biking are separated from cars. I live close to Grant’s Trail and like seeing all people and getting a different view of things. I also like how it can take you to so many places—the library, the Clydesdales at Grant’s farm, stores & historic sites. I love being out on the greenways!”
Geoffrey Soyiantet, a native of Kenya, is the founder of Vitendo 4 Africa, a nonprofit organization that helps African immigrants connect and adapt in their new home in Missouri. Vitendo is a Swahili word that means “action.” One of the many programs offered by Vitendo4Africa is the New Look Bikers Club. Geoffrey leads group rides on the Katy Trail and greenways across the region:
“Our biking club connects people from different nationalities. You may think you have nothing in common but once you are out riding a bike together, you get to know each other and find out you have a lot of things in common. It’s also important to spend time outside and be healthy. When we ride, we see different views of natural areas. Many of us grew up along forests, and the greenways and trails give us good memories of where we came from. They also let us experience different scenery and views of where we live now.”
A long-ago viral infection eventually caused Peggy’s heart to fail. Her only hope for survival was a new heart; on May 23, 2019 she received a heart transplant. Riding her pedal assist electric bike has been a vital part of her physical and emotional recovery:
“I am determined to live every day in gratitude to my donor—a nineteen year old woman. She gave me an incredible gift and I have had a hard time accepting it…I cry when I think about it. I bought this bike after my transplant to help me recover and get stronger. Riding it around the greenways has given me freedom and independence. I feel like I did when I was a little girl riding around my neighborhood. It nurtures me and connects me to nature. I’ve gotten my balance back—physically and emotionally. And every time I ride it, I take her along with me.”
Home Greenway: All of them!
Korri has lost 70 pounds and transformed her health. She took her first step towards wellness on July 24, 2017 with a walk on Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail:
“I was experiencing a variety of health problems and undergoing tests—it was a really uncertain time for me. I knew that no matter what the diagnosis was, I needed to make some changes. I was house sitting for a friend who lived next to Grant’s Trail and I decided to take a walk. That’s where my fitness journey began—right by the Clydesdales! I kept on walking. I tried to start running but couldn’t even make it from one utility pole to another. I joined a gym and started working with a trainer. After a year, I ran a half marathon! On October 4, 2020 I ran a full marathon right where it all started—on Grant’s Trail. Being able to run a marathon is something I never thought would be possible, and finishing one has taught me that I can always redefine impossible for myself. When I got down to the last six miles I was able to dig deep and keep going because I knew I could do hard things. Starting a fitness journey is hard and learning to fuel my body properly is hard, but I did it and will continue to strive to be better for myself. Running the greenway reminds me that anything is possible!”
Home Greenways-Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail, Meramec Greenway: Lower Meramec Park.
Kelly H. cycles 40 miles a day, five days a week, from her home in Soulard to her job in Crestwood. When the Gravois Greenway extension opened up in June, she starting riding on the greenway. It’s made all the difference in her daily commute:
“I was 100 percent on the road before. When the new section opened up at River City Blvd., I tested it out and loved it. I prefer being away from the cars and I like being around other people who are riding their bikes. I like seeing all the families walking and riding together. There is a sense of community on the greenway-much better than driving to work in your car. If I have a bad morning, by the time I get to work everything is better. I can’t wait until the bridge over the River des Peres opens!”
Michael H. is a former long distance runner turned long distance walker. He’s currently training for a walk on the 62.3 mile Wabash Trace Nature Trail in Southwest Iowa. He plans to cover all 62 miles in one day to celebrate being 62 years old!
“I train on the greenways because it keeps me away from cars. There’s also both sun and shade. I like walking along the River des Peres and can get there from my house on the connector from Carondelet Park. I see animals every so often and I like that too. Someone pointed out to me today that they saw a bald eagle. I see hawks, geese, and ducks …even a great blue heron. So that’s kind of neat. You can connect with nature even in the city.”
Home Greenway:River des Peres Greenway
Have you ever seen people riding uni-cycles on a greenway? There’s a good chance it’s Hogan H. & his son Corvin:
“I’ve lived in St. Louis for 15 years and been an active distance uni-cyclist for about 10 of those years. Many people have seen my son and I uni-cycling on the greenways. I enjoy the dedicated spaces to ride and be safe. It allows me to explore the city and enjoy an interesting method of traveling. A typical ride for me is 5 – 10 miles out and back. My longest ride to date was the MRT loop in downtown St. Louis. When I finished, my GPS logged just over 26 miles-it was quite an accomplishment for me! I’m currently on a quest to unicycle for 1 hour in all lower 48 US states with my son Corvin. To date, we have uni-cycled in 35 states.”
Home greenways: Deer Creek, Gravois (Grant’s Trail), Meramec: Greentree Park to Arnold’s Grove Park, Mississippi: Riverfront Trail, Missouri: Monarch Chesterfield Levee & River des Peres Greenway
Whenever we are out and about, we always like meeting new people and learning about their connection to the greenways. One person we had the great pleasure of meeting recently was Maxwell (and his mom):
“Maxwell has always loved to go fast. In his earlier years, he rode the greenways on a child’s bike seat that was attached to the front of my Workman tricycle. One of his first phrases was “go, go go!” Max now has an adaptive recumbent bike with rear steer. He still loves to go fast—and thanks to the wide and accessible greenways—he can! His phrase now is “let’s get ‘em” as he gleefully pedals away trying to catch up with other cyclists.” ~Max’s mom, Heather
Ernest Jordan is the President of Friends of Father Dickson Cemetery. Located along Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail at Sappington Road, Father Dickson Cemetery was one of the first public cemeteries available to African Americans in the St. Louis area. More than 12,000 people were interred there before it closed in the 1970’s. Without a perpetual care endowment, the cemetery fell victim to abuse and neglect. Friends of Father Dickson Cemetery organized in 1988 to restore and preserve the historic 13-acre site and more than 167 years of African American History. https://youtu.be/fNzJfoeXp2M
Ambassadors are trained volunteers who help staff our booths at community events, assist with volunteer work days and tell people about all of the fun things you can do and see on the greenways. Meet one of them:
“Whether I’m out for a run on the Centennial Greenway in the summer heat or volunteering for Eagle Days on the Mississippi Greenway in the bitter cold, I love my greenways! As a Greenway ambassador, the thing I love most about Great Rivers Greenway is the people. I get the wonderful opportunity to work with, and meet people from around the region, and talk about some of our favorite things to do outside. What’s better than that?”
Shelby Miller, Great Rivers Greenway Ambassador
Home greenway: All of them!
(Want to learn more about this and other volunteer opportunities? Go here: https://greatriversgreenway.org/volunteer/)
“I am a physical training fanatic. I love running. So when I had my traumatic brain injury back in 2011, they said I wasn’t quite stable enough to be on two wheels. They told me they had recumbant bikes, and I said “what’s that?” They told me it was a three wheel bike to keep my exercise going. I was like, okay, that is kind of nice, I had also just gotten a total hip replacement in 2015 which is even better. That way I can stay in shape. It’s like being on a motorcycle. Wind therapy is always great. Get a little sweat on and everything is gravy.”
Trevor L. US Marine Corps
One of the AMBUCS Veterans who ride together on greenways throughout the St. Louis region
Meet Sr. Laura
We crossed paths with two smiling Daughters of St. Paul last month on the Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail. We asked each of them what they enjoy about walking on the greenway:
“I come from a family of hikers. I’m from North Carolina and we would take Sunday hikes up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Now this isn’t the Blue Ridge Mountains but it is green and there are trees and the sunshine and the blue sky and the fresh air. I love being outside and am glad this is close to our house!” ~Sr. Laura
Meet Sr. Mary Francis
“The people are wonderful-they always greet you. They are very friendly. Sometimes they’ll start up a conversation-it’s a great place to meet people. I like having the library on the way. You can pop in and see what’s new. I enjoy praying for everyone here as I pass by the cemetery- I think about all of the history and all of the people who lived here in the past. It’s just refreshment!” ~Sr. Mary Francis
Home greenway: Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail. Pauline Books & Media
Monica Huddleston was appointed to the Great Rivers Greenway Board of Directors in 2009. She has served as Vice President, Treasurer and on multiple committees as a member of the 12 person board:
“I accepted my appointment to the board of Great Rivers Greenway because of the mission. There is no gray area about what we are trying to do. We are connecting the region with greenways. The people decided that this mission was important enough to approve a tax. And when the people put their vote and their YES behind something like this, why wouldn’t I want to be a part of it, do you see? The other reason is the whole diversity, equity and inclusion angle. At the time I was appointed, there were no other African-Americans on the board at all. I wanted to make sure that the great trails and other wonderful projects get to be in other areas that typically don’t get those types of things. It’s important to me to see that the Black community and the Hispanic community gets a piece of this wonderful action. I read everything that is sent to me. I analyze it and I offer very solid input not only from my personal viewpoint but the viewpoint of my community where I come from. I am really proud of the work we do-especially the St. Vincent Greenway. I am excited to see what happens when it is all connected. “
~Monica Huddleston, one of six Great Rivers Greenway Board Members representing St. Louis County. St. Vincent Greenway is her home greenway!
Meet Tracy, Vito, Frankie
“My youngest son has autism and we are working on helping him develop his core muscle strength and balancing skills. We have equipment that attaches to the back of my husband’s bike, making into a sort of tandem bike for my son to ride with him. He also has his own bike with training wheels. We live by St. Charles Community College and Legacy Park and often ride on the Dardenne Greenway. However, my son loves bridges! So, we recently rode on the Centennial Greenway that connects to the Page Avenue bridge. He LOVED it! Every morning as we cross the bridge when I take him to school he calls it “his bridge” and asks when we can ride our bikes over it again. He has difficulty expressing himself and finding topics he is excited about helps encourage him to work on these skills. We often use the greenways/biking as a go-to subject!”
Tracy, Vito and Frankie
Home Greenway Dardenne Greenway and Centennial Greenway in St. Charles County
Kenny F. is a volunteer ambassador for Great Rivers Greenway. Ambassadors are trained volunteers who represent Great Rivers Greenway at a variety of daytime, evening and weekend events such as Life Outside, earthday365, Pedal the Cause, GO! St. Louis® and more: “I volunteer because I love everything that Great Rivers Greenway represents. As a Greenway Ambassador, I get to talk about and do all of things I love. I’ve been into fitness for almost 50 years. I remember so often when I was one of very few runners out there. Now it’s exciting to see so many more people involved in exercise and being outside. I love meeting fitness and health minded individuals and talking to them–whether they are an ultra-marathoner or just like to walk. It’s fun to talk about the greenways and see the overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic responses about what’s happening and what’s coming next. Whether I am on a greenway or driving by I give everyone I see a thumbs up. I’ve been doing the same to all the construction workers building the Gravois Greenway extension- a big cheer and a thumbs up!” (Learn more about Great Rivers Greenway Volunteer Opportunities here: https://greatriversgreenway.org/volunteer/)
Home Greenway: River des Peres and Gravois Greenway
Angelica Gutierrez is a Great Rivers Greenway Project Manager. Some of her current projects include the Gravois Greenway connection to River des Peres, Centennial Greenway in Olivette and St. Charles MO, and the Deer Creek Greenway in Webster Groves and Maplewood. She also oversees our Betterment Projects-ongoing efforts to improve the user experience across greenways:
“I love that we build places for people to be outside. Not just for now, but for future generations. We all need more time and places to disconnect – to take a break from “screens” and breathe fresh air. I see it with my own two daughters. On a beautiful day, I’ll say – ‘Let’s go to the Meramec Greenway!’ They grumble a little bit- I feel like I have to drag them outside. But as soon as we get to the greenway they are all smiles. We walk, we talk, we ride bikes and sometimes even dance – it makes all of us happier.”
Home Greenway: Tie between the Meramec Greenway and Missouri Greenway: Monarch Chesterfield Levee
Meet Cathy & Roy
Every morning, volunteer bridgekeepers open up the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge so people from across region–and around the world–can explore and enjoy this historic bridge! Meet two of these amazing volunteers- Cathy and Roy.
Meet Mariah, Aubrey, Jaziah, Zosar
“I discovered the St. Vincent Greenway while walking one day and fell in love with it! I love peaceful areas surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers and designs and we love spending time on the greenway. It has been a great place for daily running or for taking walks to gain a piece of mind. It has also become one of our favorite places for enjoying family time and outdoor reading.”
~Mariah Patton, with Aubrey Sturdivant and children Jaziah and Zosar along the Ruth Porter Mall section of the St. Vincent Greenway
Joe is a legendary St. Louis County Parks volunteer who has been removing invasive plants along the Mississippi Greenway in Cliff Cave Park. Not only has he opened up views of the river for greenway users, he’s also lost 135 pounds!
“I started around 2013. I like to make places look better. I just did it because it needed to be done. Before you couldn’t see the river down here- you’d walk along the greenway and you could hear the boats but you couldn’t see them. It was a shame…that’s a good attraction! I can see the progress I made, and so can everybody else. A lot of the people who walk down here know my name. They say “Hi Joe- you sure got it looking great!” It’s like a pat on my back- I like that! ~ Joe M. Mississippi Greenway: Cliff Cave Park
Meet Denise, Steve, Izzie
“She has to go everywhere with us. This was her first trip-she’s finally calmed down a little. Best part of the bike ride has been laughing at Izzie…and the reaction from people seeing her in the trailer!” ~Denise, Steve and Izzie the dog
Home greenway: Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail
Meet Linda, a Greenway Ambassador and one of our Outreach Specialists:
“After being mostly a stay-at-home mom for 25 years, I was seeking new opportunities to learn and explore. While perusing my parents’ Oasis catalog, I noticed that they had a Hiking group. The first one I attended was on the Riverwoods Park/Earth City Levee Greenway. I had never even heard of the greenways before, but that encounter was enough to get me hooked. I didn’t attend another Oasis hike for a year after that, but once I went back, I was hooked on those, too! I became a Greenway Ambassador, and did a lot of studying on my own to learn everything I could about the Greenways and be involved in the greenway events and activities as possible. In conjunction with this, I got involved with a lot of Great Rivers Greenway’s partners, my own neighborhood’s Bird Sanctuary and Tree City activities, Beyond Housing/24:1, etc. Now I’m an Outreach Specialist, and loving it, especially sharing the Watershed Education Table. I still love hanging out with my family, and they like coming along to many of the outreach activities I’m working at, or attending just for fun! In our spare time, I play tour guide and plan fun “staycation days” for my family. These ALWAYS include an activity sponsored by Great Rivers Greenway or one of their many partners!”
(Linda center, daughter Sarah right, sister Carol on the left)
Home Greenway: St. Vincent