Monday, May 07, 2007

Walking for a Cure

Cheer stop in Chevy Chase, MD. Saturday May 5, 2007

At 3:31 a.m. on Saturday my alarm went off. I snoozed a bit and finally roused myself enough to shower, quickly gather my gear up, and eat a tasty fluffernutter sandwich before my ride came to bring me into the city. The drive in was quiet as we were all thinking about the weekend ahead, had laryngitis or simply were too sleepy to talk. It was only 4:45 in the morning after all.

Amid a sea of visors, baseball hats, fanny packs and pink ribbons we made our way to Opening Ceremonies for the 2007 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The sun was trying to make a valiant effort for us as we learned what the weekend held and did our stretches in groups. A bit more awake now we held our hands high and that of our neighbors as we made a pact that we would fight for a cure, walk for a cure, and walk even more to spread awareness about breast cancer. Slowly the herd of walkers made their way away from the Kennedy Center and out into the quiet of the early morning.

Along the way that day we passed over the Key Bridge into Georgetown. We were greeted by cheers and banners of encouragement. M Street with all it's normally crowded shops was still silent. It was heaven. We traveled through elegant neighborhoods with graceful yards and quaint town homes. Brightly painted homes and old women with candy and donuts urged us on as some of us would be walking 13 or 26 miles that day. Here and there we walked in clusters and packs talking amongst ourselves and cheering each other on. We commented on team t-shirts and decorations. I was dubbed a "Wing Girl" with my group as we walked into Chevy Chase.

My wings. I wore them with pride all weekend. Each ribbon holding a name of someone now passed or currently surviving or fighting. One woman remarked that I was "too young to have that many names." I smiled at her and said, "and that is precisely why I am walking. There ARE too many already." My teammates wore wings with names as well. All different names. Rarely did we have a person in common, except for our teammate who is currently fighting her own breast cancer battle and unable to walk and one for our dear friend and team member's mother who passed earlier this year. It was a somber walk for many of us on our team. We were not the same bunch that has walked in years past. We were all thinking of this past year and those we've lost or who have been diagnosed and our own issues.

The Pack walked on as clouds spread and winds picked up. We lunched on a hospital lawn amidst family and friends. We walked through Bethesda and on into Silver Spring. We set up our tents in just the nick of time. Then the rains came. We dashed to and fro shaking in the cold and all wishing that this year we had opted to stay in a hotel or at home overnight. We went to bed pretty early this year and blocked out the camp noises as we burrowed under our many layers of sleeping bags, clothing, and Mylar blankets. I woke up at dawn shivering and damp. I didn't think I would ever get that chill out of my core.

Day two started out brisk and ended up sunny and bright. We had thirteen miles to walk that day. We hit the pavement early and walked until lunch. I barely noticed as Maryland turned into D.C. and we found ourselves out of Takoma Park. I took a breather and chanced to look around and noticed we were in the land of Embassies. I took photos and wore a pink and silver boa for cheer. I ate candy, cookies and not enough water. I saw Mohawk Man, the Cow Man, a pink Cadillac, two Darth Vader's and a Storm Trooper as I walked further into the city nearing our finish line. There were even tween boys with bras on their heads a la Weird Science to give us a laugh and cheer us on. We found that the closer we got the more we had to smile about as signs declared that we "do make a difference" and "each step is one step closer to a cure". Those signs really helped.

We heard the finish line before we saw it. The steps to the Kennedy Center a sea of pink. Pink balloons, shirts, hats, streamers, pink EVERYTHING! Cameras flashing, people cheering as we climbed the steps. It was wonderful! It makes it all worth it. You no longer care that you are caked in dirt and may have a blister that has been biting you for miles. You just want to hug someone, shed a tear in joy that you made it in the name of someone who couldn't this year, and shout out loud that it's done!

Through the wind, rain, sun, and sometimes long bathroom lines the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer came and went. It's done. I'm sad. I feel like to quote my friend and team captain, Candi, "it came at us like a bull this year, and then just fizzled." There was too much. Too many reasons to walk this year. It was bittersweet. Perhaps that is why I will choose to walk again.


  1. I'm proud of you for doing this walk again! - Ashley

  2. Congrats to you for doing that walk! I did the ATL 2-day (30 miles) last year and cannot wait until next year to do it again (my baby will be too young for me to participate this year, unfortunatly).


Thanks for commenting! It's always good to hear from a reader and not say, a robot.