Monday, April 29, 2013

Bryants of Vinton nominated as Outstanding Senior Volunteers

By Debbie Adams

VINTON–Anyone who uses the Wolf Creek Greenway trail in Vinton on a regular basis has, at one time or another, benefitted from the volunteer work of Peggy and Lyndell Bryant.

The Bryants are the primary volunteers who maintain the Wolf Creek Trail in Vinton, and who helped build the police exercise field there for the Vinton Police.

Thirteen years ago, Anita McMillan, Director of Planning and Zoning for the Town of Vinton, asked them to be the monitors for the Wolf Creek Greenway.

Lyndell and Peggy Bryant, both in their early 80's, are the primary volunteers who maintain the Wolf Creek Greenway in Vinton. They have been nominated in the Salute to Senior Service contest which recognizes outstanding senior volunteers across the United States. They have been recognized by both the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and the Roanoke Valley Greenways for their years of dedicated service.

Lyndell and Peggy Bryant, both in their early 80′s, are the primary volunteers who maintain the Wolf Creek Greenway in Vinton. They have been nominated in the Salute to Senior Service contest which recognizes outstanding senior volunteers across the United States. They have been recognized by both the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and the Roanoke Valley Greenways for their years of dedicated service.

According to their granddaughter, Kelly McCarty, over the past twenty years, the pair have helped to build between 50 and 75 trails with the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and the Roanoke Valley Greenways.

“At 80 and 81 years old, they are still doing work that would be physically demanding for people half their ages–moving rocks and dirt, removing trees and cutting down briars and bushes,” said McCarty. “They have also designed and built bridges and constructed and installed outhouses. The shortest trail they worked on was half of a mile, and the longest was eight miles. They have worked on trails from Christiansburg to Tazewell County to the Mill Mountain Star Trail in Roanoke.”

The Bryants have been nominated by McCarty in a contest to recognize the most outstanding senior volunteers in the United States and the impact that they make on their communities with their time and talents. The Home Instead Senior Care Network holds the contest annually.

According to their website, www.salutetoseniorservice.com/about-home-instead-senior-care/, their intention is not only to help seniors stay healthy and active as they age, but to encourage a positive outlook on aging.

Senior volunteers nominated for the Salute to Senior Service contest not only receive public recognition and appreciation of their community service, but they are also eligible for a chance to win up to $5,500 for their favorite non-profit volunteer organization.

Lyndell  Bryant at work on one of the trails in the Roanoke Valley.

Lyndell Bryant at work on one of the trails in the Roanoke Valley.

Nominations were accepted in February and March of this year. From April 15 to April 30, participants may log onto the website and vote once a day for the most outstanding senior, or in the Bryants’ case, seniors. The one with the most votes in each state is announced as the state winner of $500 and becomes eligible to become the National Grand Prize winner, selected by a panel of judges.

The Bryants were specifically nominated by McCarty for their 30 hours per month of volunteer work for the Roanoke Valley Greenways over the course of twelve years and for their 15 hours a month for 23 years with the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club.

According to McCarty, Lyndell Bryant volunteers for his health and because he enjoys working with the people in the Mid-Week Work Crew, a group of seniors who work on trails every Wednesday.

Their average age is 73, and last year they worked forty-three Wednesdays in all weather conditions. The amount of time that the volunteers put in is applied to grants, with more work meaning more money for the Greenways. In just one year, the group logged 4,000 hours.

Lyndell is a native of Vinton, but Peggy was raised in Gore, Virginia, near Winchester, known as the hometown of country legend Patsy Cline.

The Bryants met in 1955 at the Vinton Municipal Pool where Lyndell was working. They married the following year and are the parents of four children and grandparents of five.

They have not only hiked, but helped build, most of the Greenways in the Roanoke Valley Greenway System, including Wolf Creek and most recently the Gladetown  Loop Trail in Vinton. Peggy also is responsible for the planting of many of the flowers along the local trails.

“Every time it rains, someone asks me when my grandparents are going to dig out the tunnel,” said McCarty, speaking of the tunnel that goes under Route 24 on the Wolf Creek Greenway. With each storm, sand and silt wash down into the tunnel and the Bryants shovel it out so that walkers, runners, and bikers can still pass through.

The Wolf Creek Greenway begins on Hardy Road, passes under Route 24, and continues almost to the Blue Ridge Parkway near Falling Creek. Heavy rains generally wash sand and silt into the underpass leaving the trail virtually  impassable for hikers and bikers were it not for the efforts of the Bryants to clear the tunnel after each storm.

The Wolf Creek Greenway begins on Hardy Road, passes under Route 24, and continues almost to the Blue Ridge Parkway near Falling Creek. Heavy rains generally wash sand and silt into the underpass leaving the trail virtually impassable for hikers and bikers were it not for the efforts of the Bryants to clear the tunnel after each storm.

The Bryants started out in the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club (NBATC) and then became members of the Roanoke Club (RATC), as well. That led to their involvement with the Greenways.

 Peggy has hiked most of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia and some in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. She took seriously to running with her first marathon at age 50.

“Both the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and the Roanoke Valley Greenways have recognized Lyndell and Peggy for their years of dedicated service,” said McCarty. “Not only do thousands of people currently benefit from the trails that they have made, but these trails will provide a place for future generations of Virginians to hike, bike and walk. Someday their great-grandchildren will walk on the trails that they built.”

Individuals are encouraged to go online to and vote for the Bryants each day through April 30 at http://www.salutetoseniorservice.com/volunteer-contest/entries/lyndellandpeggy-b/.

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