Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"I've never been so happy to see a port-a-potty!!" The Susan G. Komen 3-Day for a Cure!

After 11 months of preparations, November 5 finally arrived! Day one of the Dallas 3-Day for a Cure. I had slept at the Kemp house the night before so John drove me out to Colin Creek Mall for check-ins & the opening ceremony. If it wasn't for my seatbelt, I probably would have shot out the roof of the car anxious and freezing, I was so ready to get walking! We finally arrive at the mall, John bids me good luck and I roll out with my sleeping bag, luggage and fanny pack ready to go! It's still dark out, but all i PINK. I'm already loving this. The crew members, wearing pink tutus, wigs, and other tacky garb such as that directed me to where I should drop my luggage and then to the starting line.

Energizer, one of Susan G. Komen's national sponsors was there handing out pink bunny ears to encourage us to "keep going" hardy har har har

Thousands of pink bodies shivered around me as we huddled together trying to stay warm.
Thankfully, the sun was rising and opening ceremony was about to begin
Suddenly, upbeat music blared from the stage and huge pink beach balls began flying around the crowd. It was so exciting and the energy was absolutely contagious!! I forgot all about being cold once the opening ceremony and group stretch began.
After the fun, we had a moment where we recognized the true reason why we were all there. There wasn't a dry eye in that parking lot when reminded of lost mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, even fathers, brothers, grandfathers, and uncles who would never again be around to see another birthday, anniversary, wedding, graduation or any other significant moment. But in the midst of all of the sadness, there was a palpable hope that was stronger than any emotion there. It was amazing and incredibly moving to see so many people together for such an awesome cause. I felt so excited for the three days ahead.
This flag was signed by walkers and was a representation of all those lost and still fighting against breast cancer.
This is a Sweep Van... These vans were driven by crew members and if a walker was tired, they would pick them up and drive them to the next pit stop. Each van had a theme; this van was Scooby Booby Doo. Hardy har har.
Once the opening ceremony was over, we were free to begin Day One which was 19.5 miles of walking. Right at the starting line, I met a woman named Nataly who was also attending the walk alone and we decided to stick together. We talked about our lives at home and why we were walking. It was so great having a new friend to walk with!

Here are some of the local students who stood at the fences to cheer us on! They chanted, decorated, and even wore pink ties and bows made out of construction paper.
Sha baby!
I couldn't NOT take a picture of these two...
Every 3 or 4 miles was a pit stop! The pit stops were equipped with TONS of food, water, Gatorade, medical needs and AMAZING crews! The Crews were all volunteers who gave up their whole weekend to help us!
I had no choice but to quickly overcome my fear of peeing in public/peeing in port-a-potties because with all of the water they were forcing us to drink, I kinda had no choice. I never thought I'd see there day where I'd be relieved to see one of these things.
Each pit stop was themed. This pit stop was the "mammo-grammies"
19.5 miles later, we reached the finish line & were greeted by tons of cheerleaders and members of walkers families. Day one was over in a flash thanks to awesome crew members and cheering sections along the route. Once back at camp, Nataly and I decided to explore where we would be living for the next two days. Our first stop was the massage chairs...


So happy for a successful first day!
After charging our phones and enjoying the massage chairs, we decided to take on the challenge of pitching our own tents. I'm not exactly what you would call "outdoorsy" but for the cause, it was the least I could do.
It was pretty entertaining watching 2800 women attempting to pitch tents. Thank you Lord for volunteers from the local college's baseball team.
After pitching our tent, we had supper and decided to take showers. The showers were set up in 18 wheelers. It's kind of hard to explain without a picture but imagine portapotties...except you bathe in em. So I was waiting in line to take a shower, surrounded by 5 old blue hairs who decided to strike up a conversation with me that went a little something like this:
Old Ladies: So, where are you from?
Me: I'm from Louisiana... a little south of New Orleans.
Old Ladies: awwwh! She's from Louisiana!!! who are you here with?
Me: I'm here alone.
Old Ladies: awwwh! She's here alone!!! Who are you walking for?
Me: Oh, I'm just walking for those who can't no one in particular really.
Old Ladies: AWWWWHHHH!!!!

I love old people.

So we retired to bed early. And by early, I'm talking 8pm. It was freezing and i was EXHAUSTED. not the most peaceful sleep in the world, on the ground, in 35 degrees, but it wasn't as bad as I expected. I was so looking forward to the sun's warmth and day two!

Day two began with some serious stretching and some hot tea! We had a 22 mile trek in front of us and we were more than ready to get started!

One thing that really amazed me was the Dallas community's support. Every few miles we would come upon a cheering section. They would wave flags, hold signs, posters, balloons and even dress up while passing out candy, donuts, buttons, stickers, smoothies, bloody mary's and tequilla shots (don't worry, mom, I didn't take any). These groups were such an encouragement. Yelling thank yous and holding photos of those lost or still fighting. It was just a constant outpouring of gratitude, & it meant so much. My heart was absolutely melted. I couldn't even speak.

cheering stations...

About 18 miles into that day's walking, Nataly got too tired and decided to catch a bus back to camp so it was just me myself and I for the next 4 miles. Exhausted, I decided to start jogging to get there faster. I was immediately scolded by a male crew member in a pink tutu and wings. "This is a WALK not a RACE." Really? How am I supposed to take that seriously?
So anywho, 22 miles down. I practically collapsed over the finish line. Exhausted I went to the phone charging booth, then took a little breather and enjoyed an episode of Glee, which I've pretty much abandoned this season due to the busy hecticness that has become my life.
So that evening was beautiful, the camp was still pretty & pink, but the walkers kind of resembled hunched limping pink zombies. It was much more quiet and every few tents I would hear loud snores even at 3 and 4 in the afternoon. Can't say I blame them!! We were surprised by a private concert by Candy Coburn. I'm pretty sure no one reading this knows who Candy Coburn is, but if you have ever heard the song "Pink Warrior" which is on all the SGK commercials and what not..that's her. Now, don't get me wrong, its a cute song and she's great and all, but once you have heard it 234098508608439828 times at fundraising kind of never want to hear it again. However, I forced a smile and clapped along with all of the other blue hairs who just think shes the cutest thing to ever inhabit the earth.

So day 3 was now here. It was surprisingly bittersweet. I did miss home but at the same time I felt oddly connected to the people and event here in Dallas. I decided to get to the starting line as early as possible because lets face it: it was cold, I was tired and I had a plane to catch. I ended up at some point being in the top 10 people and ran into a woman named Ms. Patti who was keeping about the same pace as me. She was absolutely amazing!! She had been walking in the SGK 3-Day for 7 years. She has many family members who have suffered from breast cancer and was there representing them. She was so much fun to talk to and I got to meet her whole group of walkers at lunch. Turns out her niece is doing the Disney College Internship as well so I definitely plan on keeping in touch! Anywho, we walked so fast that by the time we hit the lunch tents we were forced to sit and wait for about an hour so the following pit stops could set up and prepare. We were about an hour ahead of schedule the whole day and the more I sat the more my body hurt so I was pretty darn relieved to get started again!
Ms. Patti & Me at a pit stop!
During lunch, a pink firetruck pulled up which thrilled me to death...and when this precious puppy jumped out the back I was sooo excited! She was the sweetest little baby! I played with her while we waited for the route to open back up!
This pink fire truck had been touring with the SGK 3-Day all year and we all got to sign it.
Please note: It was game day...I couldn't NOT wear my Saints gear, even if I was in Dallas. Sorry, Cowboy fans.
So the route finally opened back up and we walked through some BEAUTIFUL neighborhoods on day 3. These houses were basically estates. It was pretty amazing. Once out of the neighborhoods, we made our way downtown. I got to see the "Grassy Knoll" which I didn't even know what that was until someone told me it was where JFK got shot...I have never claimed to be a history buff.

JFK Museum? I duno...something JFK related.

Finally, we reached the finish line...
Out of 2800 walkers, I finished in the top 15.
However, I was beat by a sixty-something year old lady who had survived breast cancer and did triathalons for fun.
If that doesn't give the cynics in this world hope I don't know what will.

I was so happy and honored and proud to take this picture 6o miles later!!

In January, The Susan G. Komen 3 Day 60 Mile Walk for the Cure was something that seemed like a fun challenge & a nice thing to do for others, but after months of preparing, learning, and being inspired by others stories, challenges and heartache, I have learned so much and have been impacted in ways I never imagined I'd be impacted. I found myself humbled by those walking around me; wearing survivor pins, three times my age and constantly smiling, showing those still fighting that there is hope of a long and happy life beyond breast cancer. That with each day and each donation there is promise of a cure. I also became extremely thankful for the numerous numerous blessings in my life. From my health, to my comfortable warm bed and roof over my head, to my supportive loving and healthy family, the SGK 3-Day reminded me once again just how much my cup runneth over! This event in some ways can not be explained with words. It's so powerful, making the biggest men break down and cry, and causing weak, sick, feeble women to walk with a fervor and determination that is truly baffling. I can't even begin to express how honored I was to be a part of the walk. The search for a cure is something that I am genuinely passionate about and believe will be found thanks to the generous donations that SGK collects and the hope of those who are fighting possess.

Again, I would like to thank EVERYONE who helped me with providing the funds necessary to attend. I am incredibly blessed to know each and every one of you and know that your spare change helped to change a life!!

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