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      Woman inspires others in Dome Walking Program

      It's estimated 40 percent of people become sedentary during the winter months. But the free walking program at Northern Michigan University's Superior Dome is helping to get people moving.

      Organizers never realized how inspirational just one woman who uses their program would be.

      Seven years ago, a doctor's visit changed Rebecca Olds life forever.

      "They started looking around, and they found a tumor that was wrapped around my blood vessels," says Olds. "It was Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma."

      Complications following chemotherapy forced doctors to amputate, confining Olds in a hospital bed for 15 months.

      "I did a pity party for a couple days, and then one day, I don't know what happened, but I woke up and I thought, that's enough of that," Olds says.

      In recovery, she received a carbon fiber foot, then chose to undergo gastric bypass surgery to become more active. Today, she forces herself to exercise often, but it isn't always easy.

      "I have to watch my step; winter is very hard for me. I have fallen twice already," Olds says.

      The perfect solution came to her last year--the free Dome Walking Program, returning from a hiatus due to funding cuts. It's now made possible due to two new sponsors: Marquette General and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

      "We felt that we could cut the budget or save money in other areas; we thought this was an important public service," says NMU President Les Wong.

      In the Dome, she doesn't have to watch her steps; she'll make her routine three laps wheeling, then walking in a safe environment.

      It costs $20,000 a year to keep the Dome open, an investment sponsors hope will curb winter excuses and make the community a healthier one.

      Dome walking hours are 6 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays.