Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Walk

So, I think that most of you know I recently walked the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure and all I can say is WOW. It was truly an incredible experience.

A group of my teammates and I drove to DC on Thursday. We arrived in time to enjoy some great pizza and a walk to Georgetown for a cupcake. We split one that night, and bought others to enjoy the next morning for our pre-walk breakfast.
Mmmm, cupcakes.

After a somewhat restless night for everyone, we got up early to catch our 5am shuttle that took us to the opening ceremony location. As soon as we checked in, I knew it would be emotional. The signs on people's backs in honor or memory, the opening ceremony itself, the survivors circling a flag of remembrance. I truly felt lucky that I had the ability to walk 60 miles. Throughout the next 3 days, I would often think that this was way easier than chemo. Or losing a breast. Or losing a loved one.

Our team at the opening ceremony.
(The guy with the pink beard behind us is actually not a part of our group!)

One of my favorite signs.

Then we walked. And walked. And walked some more. On Friday, we did 20.5 miles throughout D.C., even stopping for a moment as the Prime Minister of Jordan passed by us and his Secret Service made us stop. We headed into Georgetown, and made it to Maryland. All along the way, they have pit stops where you can grab a snack, refill your water bottle, stretch, use the porta-pottie, etc. The event logistics are amazing to me, and must take a dedicated staff and incredible volunteers. After we had walked on Friday, we were bussed to our campsite for the weekend ... a huge farm in Maryland.

Part of our row of tents, complete with appropriate decorations.

There we could pick up our luggage, set up our tent, enjoy a hot shower via mobile shower tractor trailer units, and eat dinner. One important note ... plastic utensils make steak very hard to eat, but I enjoyed every bite. The campsite has a 9pm lights out policy, but I think everyone is so tired by the point, it is an easy rule to enforce.

Saturday, our schedule was 24 miles and this time we actually started the walk to camp and no buses were involved. This day we stayed in Maryland and had great support from cheering sections, and also just people set up in parking lots. I almost cried at every large cheering station as the people are thanking you for walking for their Mom, Wife, Sister, etc.

This was one of our favorite cheerleaders and he was out on the course all weekend, cheering on his wife. She is a survivor and had done many Komen walks and was walking in 3 walks this year! Plus, he had chocolate and a cool wig.

On Saturday night, Nancy Brinker (Susan G. Komen's sister) who started the foundation in honor of her sister spoke and it was such an inspiration to hear her story. Again, lights out at 9pm and I found that chicken was easier to cut with plastic.

We were up at 5am on Sunday so we could take down our tents, put our bags in a truck, eat breakfast and hit the road. We were bussed to another area of Maryland and we walked to DC. The Dupont Circle cheering section was great and we got to see some of the sights ... complete with a walk past the White House.

Day 3, still smiling, and ready to go!

Our team nearing the end of Day 3, in front of the White House.

As we finished the walk, we were cheered on by crew members, volunteers, onlookers, other walkers ... you name it. There was music, cheering, clapping. It was incredible and emotional. Our team linked arms and came in together. We started together and that's the way we wanted to finish. Each and every one of us walked every single step and our feet showed it. Lots of blisters, but you literally could feel the strength of all of us combined.

We stayed in a holding area until all of the walkers were in, then we all lined up together to walk to the National Monument. This was exciting to have the entire 2,000+ people together since we had been spread out most of the weekend. The survivors followed us, wearing special pink tee shirts.

The closing ceremony was just as emotional as the opening, with good speakers, music, and of course the survivors raising a flag. One of our team members who is a survivor was asked to be on stage! Even though we couldn't see her from our point, we were thrilled that she got to have that special experience.

The one shoe salute for all of the survivors as they walked into the closing ceremony.

At lunch on Day 3, our team captain asked if someone offered to donate the amount that we had raised if we would walk again the next day, and I can definitely say that I would. I really felt like I had made a difference, and it was incredible to witness it. Individually, I raised over $2,800; our team raised nearly $27,000; and the D.C. walk raised $5.3 million. Incredible.

With our team captain and my tent roomie!

A huge thank you to my family and friends for their love and support throughout this amazing journey.


Rene said...

Susan, this is a great post! You spoke of so many wonderful memories and I feel blessed to have had this time with friends contributing to a great cause.

I will be linking my post to yours too if that is ok.


Miche said...

So proud of the 3 of your and the rest of your team.

I've always found all 3 of you inspiring. This is just further proof of how amazing you ladies are :)

Goddess in Progress said...

What an amazing experience!

KatiePerk said...

You ladies rock! I got a bit emotional reading this.

Emily said...

Since I haven't told you 15 times on BBM how proud I am of you, here's one more!! You and your team of women are very inspirational. Congratulations on finishing SIXTY miles.. :)

Stephanie Billings said...

Susan, what a great way to sum up our experience! You have a gift with words! I am so lucky to have walked it with you and all the Walkie Ta-Ta Talkies. It was an incredible experience!

LauraC said...

So freaking awesome!
I can't even imagine how you are feeling now.