Morning All:-) Many of you know that in May of this year I drug my big old hiney over 40 miles (in total) for the Avon Breast Cancer walk. So many of you gave generously to that endeavor and together we helped raise not just $ but awareness. My Aunt Paula, even up in heaven, was proud of us all! Today I call upon you again. I’ve joined the Army of Women, a group dedicated to research towards the cure. I’d love for you to join! you can check them out at
but in the mean time, out of your busy day, take 30 seconds to sign the pledge seen on my page. Send a message to our government in this election season that we want a cure!! In this post I’m re-posting my wrap up letter from the walk. If you were one of my donor’s I’ve already sent it to you, but read it again. Honor your part in the efforts, you are my heroes. Have a great weekend.
“…Yep, I did it. That’s a pretty big deal. I mean I’m no puppy anymore. And if I stick with the dog metaphors I’d best describe myself as a cross between a sharpei and that cute little cocker spaniel the vet just put on doggie Nutrisystem! But I lugged my caboose all 39.3 miles. I think I will pause here to put out there to anyone who made it through this weekend and anyone thinking of doing this.. It is MORE than 39.3 miles!!!! That is the official word of the event staff. See they only track the miles in a car. A car that can’t be driven into the rest stops or trek all the way to North Dakota where they park the freaking port-a-potties! So according to one of the masochists who wore a PEDOMOTER…sick-o… we walked more like 44.8 miles…Okay nuf fussing. Really it turns out that the blisters on my heals and the hyper extended knee are more a reward for my effort than battle scars. Sounds silly huh? Well let me tell you a few stories. (we will pause this presentation for our audience to go get Kleenex).
Let me tell you first about Mohawk man (yep a grown man in his 40s with a Mohawk) and his wife. His name is Dale he is the proud husband of a beautiful blonde hottie wife. They are one of those couples you look at and just sigh because we all want a love like that. They have two great sons (13 and 11 years old). Mohawk starting walking with his wife four years ago when her best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. They both said it felt like it was something they needed to do for her and could do together. Last year they couldn’t make it the whole 39 miles together. He did it and she waited at the finish line for him with their boys. See she’d found a lump six months earlier and the side effects of the chemo where pretty bad and she couldn‘t walk. This walk meant more than all the others and the hug he got at the finish was the best ever. As I walked on Saturday I found a pink penny on a park bench. I picked it up and told my team mate Tonya “hey look a pink penny how freaky huh?”. Tanya then told me I’d picked up one of Mohawks thoughts. HUH? She explained that one of the things Mohawk and his wife do is give each other pennies for their thoughts. A cute little thing they started when they where dating and kept up for the past 16 years. See Mohawk’s wife died in February this year. He puts a pink penny down every time he thinks of her while he is walking. He now walks all eight cities and raises the whole $1800 every city through donations and by making hats with Mohawks on them to sell for fundraising… All so that no other husband looses his best friend and so that his wife will know that he will never give up the fight.
I also walked with Gerri. She gave a speech at the opening ceremonies. She met Chris, the man of her dreams, and he asked her to be his wife. She was thrilled and spent months looking for that perfect dress. She found it, a strapless, crystal laden one of a kind. Then she went in for her annual physical three days after she found the dress. The doctor found a lump but told her that at 26 years old she’d be fine because women in their 20s don’t get breast cancer. After a lumpectomy and biopsy she got the call two months before her big day, it was breast cancer. Gerri and her fiancé Chris put the wedding on hold while she had a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Last year she walked down the aisle, in that perfect strapless dress. I spent time with the two of them Saturday and I tell ya, you’ve never seen two more devoted people and the smile on her face kept me going more than once when I thought I’d have to quit.
Most of you know I’m a big believer in karma. I think we are put into places, situations and with certain people for a reason. I don’t think much about life is happen stance at all. This weekend served to reinforce that for me. On mile 25½ my new friend Michelle and I came upon two walkers. One was sitting on a low concrete over hang beside a small grassy hill. The other was laying in the grass. We stopped to check on them. The woman laying down was cold as ice to the touch , pale as a sheet and covered in sweat. Her breathing was a bit labored. Her friend had no idea what to do. Many walkers had passed and not stopped, lots of us take an unscheduled rest here and there. We stopped, and as it turned out my first aide training over the years was put to good use. Michelle called the emergency number given to us and flagged down one of the motorcycle crew who called 911. We covered the walker in our extra clothes and rain ponchos. I wet my one and only bandanna and put it on her head. She’d been drinking all day and not used the bathroom. Her pulse was erratic and she was in shock. The paramedics told us she’d need to get to the hospital right away . They figured she had heat stroke and was pretty bad off. We where told that our efforts may have helped her hold on until they got there. We never got her name, don’t know if she finished but we do know we where meant to be there when we were. Karma? An interesting thing happened on the way to the finish line. I was attacked by caterpillars all weekend. It became a comedy for other walkers who all seemed to avoid the onslaught. I found them on my legs, in my hair, in and on my tent (no where near a tree),on my jacket, in my path.. Every where I turned there they where.. I even started picking them up to move them out of harms way on the trail (my walking mates would warn others not to walk directly behind me because I made frequent stops for kids, dogs and caterpillars).. We started counting and figured about 54 in all. They often seemed to show up when I was getting low or telling another person about Aunt Paula. Karma strikes again.
I have nasty blisters on my heals and walking around sucks. But every time I feel like complaining I think about Judy, our team captain. She is in her 60’s and a twenty one year survivor. She walks a full marathon in all eight cities and has since 2005. She takes in all those people out there without a team and makes them family. They are the Solo Struters USA and this year one of our own ranks organized the first ever walk for breast cancer in Iraq. She arrived in DC from Faluja on Thursday and walked with us all weekend. And there is Moo Man and the Moo crew who travel to as many cities as their funds will allow. He dresses in a cow costume, utters and all. And they man about 10 cheer stations along the route. They hand out candy, hugs and that extra smile you need at mile 13 when your feet hurt so bad that the only way you can go on is to imagine that they don’t exist anymore. Saturday Moo Man got an anonymous donation of 300,000 sky miles so that he and the crew can make as many cities they can this year. Check out my pics. I’m sure you’ll notice the very fury guy dressed in pink drag. If you don’t, go get an eye exam! He is the CEO of a company called Food and Friends. They handed out AMAZING (even better than mine!) cookies along the route. I figured it was just a philanthropic thing he and his employees did for the weekend. But, about mile 12 on the last day of the walk there where signs about every two yards in the grass. “Food and Friends Proudly supplied this weekends cookies and lunch” “Just like they do every day for breast cancer patients and their families” “Just like they will today” “and the day after that” “and the week after that” “Because Food and Friends is made up of Chefs and food service people who donate their time to prepare and deliver these meals” “A service made possible by the funds your raised to walk this weekend” WOW! All these people are amazing but just as touching where the people who where not involved with the walk at all. Families who came with signs thanking us. Kids outside their yards with lemon aid and cookies. I remember one with four boys between 10 and 4 years old arranged by height. The first three with trays of juice and fruit. The last and youngest with a trash bag. He said to us “Put your trash in here because my mom says she cleans up enough trash already” I laughed so hard!
It all came to an end on top of a grass covered platform. We walked in as a team holding hands, our arms in the air. We walked down that platform towards a pink arch with a finish sign on it, to U2’s song “walk on” (karma again, me the world’s biggest U2 fan). Flanked on this last 400 yards by dad’s with babies on their shoulders or in strollers, tears streaming down their faces. By women in wheel chairs friends at their sides holding their IV bags. By mom’s who’d finished the walk and had placed their bandannas on the heads of their kids proudly showing off their own baldness and screaming “fight on”. By young men, flowers in hand, tears in their eyes and pictures of their mom’s on t-shirts that said “we won’t forget our mom”… okay Kleenex break… deep breath.. I left this place of triumph and hope with a knee that threatened to jump ship and blisters I was afraid to even look at and see how bad they where. I didn’t stay for closing ceremonies. I’m sure they where just as emotional as the whole weekend had been. But I didn’t need Reece Witherspoon to tell me I’d done a great job. Or to say that we set a record both for walkers (almost 4000) and for funds raised (8.3 million so far).. I carried with me the pink penny I’d picked up…beside me was my wonderfully supportive husband and four beautiful and proud kids in their Aunt Paula’s Pink Pavement Pounders T-shirts, in my heart where thoughts of my mom, dad , brothers, sister-in-law, aunt, uncle and friends who gave me so much in so many ways and pinned to my back a picture of Aunt Paula and Uncle Paul hugging each other in front of a table set for Easter dinner and that was all I needed. I thank each and everyone of you who helped me do this. Whether it was a generous donation, a supportive email or one of the prayers that helped carry me through.. I could not of done it with out you! ..”