|early Friday morning|
|end of day1|
|end of day 2|
|end of day 3|
I will resist the urge to recount every moment of the three days, but I will give you the highlights.
Early on Friday morning S drove us up to Lake Lanier for opening ceremonies and the start of the walk. We were some of the first walkers to arrive and we were on TV with Karyn Greer from channel 11.
After an emotional and uplifting opening, we were off! We walked 19.5 miles the first day and arrived at camp to discover our pink tent was already set up for us! It pays to be friends with someone who's twitter friends with some seriously dedicated 3-day supporters. We settled into our pink tent in what was slowly but surely becoming a pink village.
So then we showered, ate, slept in our tent, woke to a chilly morning, walked, showered, ate, slept in our tent, woke to a chilly morning, walked, celebrated, went home. Here are some of my favorite moments:
Cheering stations! Each day there are two cheering stations and folks come out to to cheer and say thank you and hand out lots of sugar! If you are in a 3-day city, you should definitely check out the cheering stations during the event.
S and Buddy came out on Saturday morning. Don't you like Buddy's pink ribbon bandanna? And our friends Katie and Nathan joined S on Sunday morning.
Folks don't just limit themselves to cheering stations. They also show up in parking lots, front yards, and in front of neighborhoods to cheer you on. This dog cracked us up.
And signs like these keep you going.
These kids and their dads showed up on both Saturday and Sunday. In the early morning they had coffee for us and later in the day they brought us little cups of water. These kids are learning so much about giving to others. And about the efficiency of Henry Ford's assembly line: coffee, creamer, sugar, stirrer, coffee, creamer, sugar, stirrer.
These are my doctored up toes after day 2. Okay, my blisters weren't really my favorite part but I did love knowing that I could push past the minor pain and walk all 60 miles. I kept seeing the sign, "blisters don't need chemo" and that sorta became my mantra when my feet wanted me to stop. On the third day we passed a woman who was walking a little bit slowly with a bit of a limp and using a pink-striped walking stick. We asked her if she was doing okay and she said, "yep" and then "if I can beat cancer I can beat this!" Yep, and if you and my grandma and my great aunt can beat this disease, then I can keep walking!
The crew. There were 350 volunteers who helped on the crew: medical, safety, pit stops, sweep vans, camp. They kept our spirits up and were super silly. Nothing like a pink eyelashed crew member serving up Gatorade in wine glasses in front of a bank of porta potties to make your day!
The motorcycle crew had the most awesomely decorated bikes and it was so fun to see them whiz by. It is amazing how quickly community forms in this setting. Kindness abounds. Leanne and I were talking to a man who was walking by himself on the morning of day 3. We asked him who he was walking for, his mom, and how his walk was going. He responded with, "You know, I didn't train for the kindness." It is overwhelming at times. Did I mention cheering stations? Walking through all those people and having everyone, young and old, telling you "thank you for walking" is enough to keep you going for the rest of the day.
The EMTs on bikes were decked out in pink bunny ears, pink bras stuffed with blown-up pink gloves, and pink striped socks.
My teal ribbons accompanied me on the walk, on my fingernails and on my Camelbak. Women would ask me, what's the teal ribbon for? And I got to tell them about ovarian cancer, the signs and symptoms, and about September and Teal Toes.
On the third day we were served bloody marys outside a house on Peachtree. Thanks guy who lives in that house!
At lunch on Sunday we were greeted with this much appreciated sidewalk chalk.
And then, there was only "1 mile" left. "1 mile" because signs on the 3-day go by "3-day miles" so they can't always be trusted to be accurate, but at least we knew we were relatively close to Turner Field!
The best part of day 3? Taking off my shoes in the holding area. Okay, maybe not the best part, but it's up there!
And it turns out we parked ourselves right next to this sign.
The entire crowd of walkers and crew begins to gather in the holding area as the final walkers arrive. Everyone gets a t-shirt. Walkers get white, crew members get gray, and survivors get pink. It's the first time during the three days that the survivors become obvious. Leanne and I were struck by how young so many of them were. They looked like they were our age and several had little kids.
Then we all walk into closing ceremonies together with our friends and family cheering us on. We found out that the Atlanta walkers raised $6.1 million for breast cancer research. The survivors walk in last together and the walkers offer a salute.
And a small group of survivors carry the flags of hope, love, courage, and the like to the center of the crowd before the ceremony ends.
Um, there may be a few tears.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who gave donations, offered support, wrote letters and notes to us at camp, said prayers for our feet, legs and spirits, and told us how proud you were of us. Now it's time to prepare for 2011! Yes, I will definitely do this again. And you can too! I will probably walk in Dallas next year and I would love to have you walk with me.