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‘Road to 2026’ launches in Western Pa.

Maria Cade, Miss Butler County 2023, and Jordan Grady, president of the Butler County Chamber of Commerce, attend the America250's launch of Road to 2026 on Tuesday, March 28, in Pittsburgh. Submitted photo
Buildup to 250th U.S. anniversary

America250PA launched “Road to 2026” Tuesday at Penn Avenue Place, Pittsburgh, kicking off a health-and-wellness initiative in the lead-up to the country’s 250th anniversary.

Jordan Grady, president of the Butler County Chamber of Commerce, said the event emphasized how “epic” the state’s celebration is going to be.

“America started here in Pennsylvania,” Grady said. “It’s the greatest state in the country to live, work and play, and it’s where the Founding Fathers solidified the country’s roots.”

Hosted by sponsor Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Road to 2026 launch featured remarks by a variety of state and local officials including Dan Onorato, executive vice president of Highmark Health; Lt. Governor Austin Davis; and Miss Butler County 2023, Maria Cade, who performed the national anthem.

“It was an honor,” Cade said. “I was really grateful to be there and share a little bit about Butler County with representatives from across the state.”

The Road to 2026 initiative challenges Western Pennsylvania to use one of its “greatest assets, the great outdoors,“ according to Grady, and to live healthier lives as this momentous anniversary approaches.

“When you looked around the room and saw the professionals who were at the event,” Grady said, “you knew this was pretty serious.”

A statement released by America250PA called the initiative a “virtual four-part cumulative challenge” that encourages participants to walk, run and bike the commonwealth while recording their progress.

“When you look at Butler County, we have so much to offer in terms of outdoor recreation,” Grady said. “Whoever had the idea to tie that in with the Western Pennsylvania kickoff, that makes perfect sense to me.”

This America250PA initiative will run in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the counties to highlight state parks, local parks and local historical sites, according to the statement.

Road to 2026 is open to any U.S. resident 18 or older. For more information, visit

A celebration of unity

The upcoming celebration of America’s 250th anniversary, Grady said, really brought home a need for national unity — literally.

“That was stressed a little bit by a couple of speakers: about unity, coming together for the greater good,” he said. “I think that really hit home.”

Grady said the national America250 celebration is organized at the state level across the country.

In Pennsylvania, he said, each county has appointed “stakeholders in their community to form a committee.”

Jack Cohen, chairman of Butler County’s committee, said there was a lot to celebrate in the counties.

“There’s 67 of us, and all of us are going to do something special in our own backyard,” said Cohen, president of the Butler Tourism & Convention Bureau. “And, you know, we’ve got lots to talk about.”

The three-year buildup to the anniversary, in accordance with America250’s theme, serves to educate, preserve, innovate and celebrate (E.P.I.C.).

“It has potential to be a really big deal, an event that unites the entire country together celebrating the birth of the United States of America,” Grady said. “I think it has potential to be very powerful in that way.”

Participants at the America250PA gathering attend the Road to 2026 Western Pennsylvania Launch Tuesday, Mach 28, at Penn Avenue Place Lobby in Pittsburgh. The initiative encourages Pennsylvanians to live healthier by walking, running or wheeling their way to the nation’s 250th anniversary by exploring parks and historic sites. The Road to 2026 is a four-part cumulative virtual race/challenge that participants can track online. Among attendees was Jordan Grady, second from right, president of the Butler County Chamber of Commerce. Submitted photo

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