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Spring Take It Outside Challenge winners say patience and ‘a little luck’ led to their success

Collage showing the selfies of the Spring Fling winners

The spring Take It Outside Challenge ended with seven first-place winners and hundreds of fun memories and accomplishments for participants.

They will split $900 in Amazon gift cards that made up the top prizes for the challenge. 

The Spring Fling competition, which ended June 15, featured nature-themed missions all over Will County, including GPS check-ins at specific preserve locations, photos of flora and fauna, trivia questions and selfies. More than 650 people participated and they completed a total of 25,000 missions to rack up points. The challenge finished with a total of 9 winners in first but two of those winners were not eligible to win the spring contest since they also placed in first in the winter seasonal challenge.

The winners for spring were: Bruce Galdek of Minooka, Lori Heitman of Shorewood, Linda Keeling of Chicago, Ginger Leopold of Bolingbrook, Karen Reger of Plainfield, Richard Sulkowski of New Lenox and Suzie Voss of Mokena.

Voss said she also competed in the Winter Workout challenge, too.

“The only mission that kept me out of first place was that darn snake,” she said. “So, when a snake came up again in the Spring Fling challenge, I was determined to complete that mission. On a particularly warm, sunny day, I patiently waited along the I&M Canal for over an hour for one of the water snakes to take a break from swimming and crawl up onto the branches nearby.”

She also lucked out when a coyote made an appearance at a birthday gathering she was attending, which allowed her to complete the coyote mission.

“... one strolled by right near our area and I was able to grab my phone and get a picture as he was running away,” she said. 

As with many participants, Voss touched on why so many people love the Take It Outside Challenge, which debuted in 2023 as a year-long competition and transitioned to a seasonal format this year. 

“Although I've lived in Will County for over 30 years and go out to the preserves near my house quite often, the Take it Outside Challenge introduced me to preserves and trails that I didn't know existed," she said. "Additionally, I've met many new people while out and about completing missions, which is always good for the soul. And the extra exercise is an added benefit of course!”

Determination and patience

Keeling noted that the challenge takes determination and patience. 

“It also took really reading those instructions for the missions carefully, a little luck sometimes and also sharing tips and hints amongst fellow Goosechasers,” Keeling said referring to the Goosechase app participants use for the challenge. “When on future hikes we will constantly be reminded of things we did or learned during the Take It Outside campaign.”

Heitman said the challenge had special meaning for her. It’s the first competition she’s ever won in her 64 years. 

“I live with multiple rare illnesses and have good days and bad days,” she said. “The fact that this competition could be done at my own pace made it doable for me. …This has improved my quality of life immensely.”

Summer challenge

There is still time to join this year’s Take It Outside Challenge. The Summer Soiree seasonal challenge runs from June 30 to Sept. 21 and a Fall Frolic challenge runs from Oct. 6 to Dec. 14. Challenge rules are posted online. Simply download the free Goosechase app to your smartphone to get started. 

Each seasonal challenge will feature a variety of prizes. Amazon gift cards in the amounts of $500, $250 and $150 will be awarded for first, second and third places, respectively. Additional prizes will also be awarded including prize packs from Wild Birds Unlimited Joliet. The two Wild Birds Unlimited winners from the spring challenge were Joanne Cain of Lockport and Tracy Miller of Frankfort. 

Additional prizes also were awarded to participants throughout the challenge, including:

  • Ten Take It Outside prize packs featuring a Take It Outside T-shirt, hat, mug and bandana.
  • Two $50 Forest Preserve gift cards.
  • Two $25 gift cards.
  • One $35 Visa gift card.

The Take It Outside Challenge is sponsored by The Nature Foundation of Will County.