The story of our 3 day journey

We want to thank all those who supported us through donations, prayers and well wishes. We had an amazing time and are excited to share the details of our journey with you all. If you've never read a blog before, read from the bottom up. These are just my ramblings, so if you follow this, when Christine gets home, I think she'll add some of her thoughts as well. If you click "follow" on the right hand side of this page, you will be updated if she posts. Oh, and I am not a talented writer, sorry 'bout that.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'll shut up after this

So that about covers the 3 day.  I'm sure I have not come close to doing it justice.  It's amazing.  It's incredible.  It permeates your soul.  As Martha Stewart would say, it's a good thing.  A really good thing.  

And I'm ready for next year.  It's a big commitment, but I've been inspired.  Everytime I think of Kathie, I'm inspired.  Everytime I look into the faces of my amazing girls, I'm inspired.  Everytime I think of those beautiful faces in the remembrance tents, gone way too soon, I am inspired.  Who will inspire you?

I want to do something that shows my children that while they mean the world to me, the world does not revolve around them.  So it's ok if I have to leave them a few nights here and there to train and go away for a weekend for the walk.  They're starting to get it, and they're proud of me.  And that's really cool.  And I'm proud of them too for being willing to give up mommy for just a bit.  Because, as selfish as they can be, they're kids after all, they get that other people need mommy too.  And we've got to find room to serve outside our four walls and our little family.  I hope I can teach them that, but more importantly, I hope I can show them that.

Not sure if we'll do DC or Philly next year, but I'll walk again, hopefully with some of you all.  We'd love to have a big team to go next year.  So, wanna come?  If you do, call me, email me, write me a letter, stop by, whatever, we want YOU!  And we'll help you.  As a team.  A pink team of rockstars.

One last thing.  THANK YOU!!!  Thank you for reading my ramblings.  Thank you for your support.

For all who donated, I could not have done this without you.  Quite literally.  You played just as much a part in this as I did, and I big, puffy pink heart, thank you.  You are rockstars!

For Eric, Emma, Grace and Luke.  Thanks for giving me up for awhile.  Thanks for being proud of me.  Thanks for your patience, encouragement and love.  Thanks for being you and loving me despite who I am.  You are the best.

For Dad, Mom, Aunt Ann, Niki and Terry.  Love you all!  Thanks for taking care of my babies while I was gone.  You made it possible for me to go and I am unbelievably grateful for that.  You are superheroes.

For Ray, love you!  And thanks.  For everything.  For who you were to Kathie and who you are to Eric (and the rest of us too.)  You are a Dad.

To Kathie.  Thank you for the love you gave Eric.  You were an amazing mother.  Thank you for the love and acceptance you gave me.  I'm sorry for all the times I fell short of being the daughter-in-law you deserved.  Thank you for encouraging and inspiring so many.  I wish you could have met Luke, but someday.  We miss you everyday and love you always.  You were nothing short of amazing and we are all better people having known you.

Christine, my pink sister, it was an honor to walk with you.  Love ya bunches!  YOU ALL EVERBODY!

Our God is an awesome God.  Thank you for blessing me with these amazing wonderful people.

And here I bid you all adieu.  Thanks for helping me along this journey.  I'll keep you updated once I start to geared up for the 2011 walk!!! 


Camp and the sea of pink doom

I don't camp.  I like my own shower, bathroom, hair dryer and lighted mirror to put my makeup on.  I like my own space.  My warm bed and fluffy pillows.  And privacy.  I like privacy alot.  So, it was a big step for me to decide to do this knowing I would have to sleep in a tent, use port a potties, go without electricity and shower on a truck.  Oh yeah, and sleep in a field with about 2,200 other people.  But, the call of the pink was stronger.

Camp is cool.  Yep I said, I liked it.  Now, we didn't have to rough it quite as much as most do.  We were supposed to camp outside in a field at Fairmount Park.  However, with heavy rains on Thursday and strong wind gusts expected for Friday and Saturday, they moved our camp indoors to the PA convention center.  Toilets that flushed, woohoo!  We did still get to shower on trucks, but I rolled with that.  What I did not account for in all my planning was that I was expecting to zip my extremely claustrophobic self up in a 6.5x6.5 ft bright pink coffin.  Yeah, that was a problem.  Seems as soon as I climbed into that pink tent of doom, I had a very hard time breathing.  Luckily, since we were camped inside, we were able to leave our tent unzipped at night and I slept with my head half out the doorway. 

We camped on the lower level of the convention center and Main Street, the dining area, camp medical station and the remembrance tents were on the level above us.  Loved those men and women who served us breakfast and dinner everday.  Tried to stuff one in my camelbak, but I'll need a bigger pack for that.  Got to visit the medical tent on Saturday night.  My wonderful shoes helped some nice blisters fill up on my heels that I got to have drained.  I was a bit, ok so alot, nervous after that about walking another day with the way my heels were torn up, but then we headed to the remembrance tents.

This place was tough.  There were white tents from all the cities the walk has been through lining the walk to the main tent.  These tents are signed by walkers with notes to those they've lost.  Then you enter the main tent.  On the walls hang pictures of women that have walked in past 3 day events and since lost their battles with breast cancer.  One picture shows a woman with her daughter who looks to be about the same age as Emma.  That woman was born in 1977, the same year I was born.  It is very quiet inside this tent.  No one speaks really.  There are just quiet sounds of tears.  I sat down and wrote a short note to Kathie in the remembrance book.  There was a woman beside me writing to her mom.  It was hard.  But as we walked out of that tent, I found I was no longer worried about how my blisters would feel the next day.  I'm not one to whine about how I feel and am usually annoyed when others do.  And no matter how my feet had felt on that last day, I would have walked.  All of it.  But leaving that tent, I was reminded of why I was there.  And I was bolstered by those fighters, knowing my little blisters were not even a blip on the radar of the hell they'd been through.  And I was going to finish that walk and not give those blisters a second thought.  Because those women deserved it.  Because Kathie deserved it.  Besides, whining causes blisters.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

PICTURES! (click on this picture, and it will take you to all of them)

We are rockstars. Pink, port a potty rocking, walking, rockstars.

I started writing this and detailing each day, but I was bored and uninspired by it.  I certainly don't want that for you.   I'm starting over and I'm going to tell you about the important stuff .  The people.  Because that's what this walk is all about.

Early Friday morning, we shivered and cried thru the opening ceremonies.  We watched as they raised white flags with the names of loved ones lost.  Kathie's name flew that morning.  Rather than try to detail it, I hope you will relive that morning with us by watching the opening ceremony.   It is truly moving.  Click here to watch> Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day 2010 Opening Ceremony

We walked 20 miles that day,  traveling thru the Chestnut Hill and Manayunk communities.  And we became rockstars.  People lined the streets and cheered (screamed), high-fived, and passed out candy.  Lots of candy.  In neighborhoods we walked thru, people decorated houses.  As we passed schools, the children lined the sidewalks, decked out in pink, and cheered us on.  Cars honked as they drove by.  People loved us.  And we loved them.  These "walker stalkers" keep us going.  They are awesome.  There was a woman in a wheelchair, a survivor I believe.  She and a friend would set up their own cheering station, complete with candy, tissues, etc, twice a day each day of the walk.  We'd see her in the morning early into the route and then later on in the day towards the end of the route.  She cheered us all on.  She was a rockstar.

Day 2 took us thru the Main Line, Bryn Mawr and Haverford.  Haverford College hosted us for lunch in a postcard like setting.  We met a sweet pizza shop owner who offered little slices of heaven to every weary walker that passed.  Aside:  I would be remiss if I did not mention my dear friend Christine's love of the blue lagoons (3 day speak for port a potty.)  There was nary a one she did not visit.  However, though these pit stops were spaced less than 3 miles apart, they were not nearly close enough for Christine.  At this quaint little pizza shop, Teeny of course stopped to use the potty.  We traveled on from there, crossing a crazy intersection, over a bridge and as we were about to cross another road, she noticed her Camelbak was missing.  Yes, you guessed it, back to the pizza shop we went.  Actually, I waited for her on the bridge and she went back down to the shop to retrieve her pack.  One word Teeny, Toviaz. 

Day 3 led us thru the city of Philadelphia.  Perhaps we were not so much rockstars now, but more like exhibits from a Ripley's side show.  Seems the city folk weren't as aware of who we were and why we were walking as the suburbanites.  The dudes in tutus drew a few more stares and Teeny's pink pigtails were very "special" to the fine folks in Chinatown.  But everyone was kind and we still maintained our rock star status at the cheering stations.  We also got to see some really cool historic sites and Christine got to pee in the Ritz Carlton, just like a rockstar.  Before I forget the other rockstars of the 3 day, I need to mention the crew.  There were those who worked food service always decked out in some kooky costume to lift our spirits and feed our souls.  Those who drove the sweep vans to look for walkers who just couldn't go on.  And to beep and cheer and give us the thumbs up to keep us going.  And then there was the safety crew.  There was Thonnie Smith, the combat veteran recently back from Iraq.  And the Tutu brothers, Kristian and Ken Kauker.  They've served on bike safety in Philly for the past 3 years.  They do it in honor of their mom, Julie, a 4 year survivor.  And they wear tutus and fuzzy pink spikes on their helmets because "good men wear pink, real men wear tutus."  They all kept us going.

We ended our walk at The Navy Yard.  We came in about 150th, so we had a lot of time to relax and then welcome in our fellow walkers.  This part was really cool.  To see the faces of these people as they made it, finally, was priceless.  There was joy, relief, pride, pain, maybe a little sadness, and tears.  Lots of tears.  It was very overwhelming to walk into that final line up of people cheering you on and high fiveing like rockstars.  I will never forget the face of the young man, probably in his mid 20's, that came thru sobbing.  He was walking in memory of his mom.  To see vibrant young men, teenagers, gray-haired survivors, middle aged couples, sisters, of every age, race, and fitness level cross that final threshold with tears streaming down their faces, holding each other up, it moves your soul.  Your are there.  You cannot turn back and you will be back.

And then they walk you into closing ceremony.  Your last rockstar walk.  And you cry the whole way.  After the walkers, the crew comes in, and finally the survivors.  Clad in pink, the real rockstars, come in.  We hold a shoe high to honor these women.  These heroes.  The living embodiment of why we walk.  The final address is delivered (we raised 5.7 million in Philly!!) and the last flag is raised to signify the end of the walk. (Click here to watch the closing ceremony, but have your tissues ready!)>Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day 2010 Closing Ceremony   Christine and I hugged and sobbed for awhile and then the pink dispersed.  And it was over.  All the training and fundraising, the walking, the crying, the pain, the anticipation, is done.  But the pink spirit lives on.  And more walkers will walk for a cure all over cities in the U.S.  And we start planning for next year.  We've taken notes to be better prepared for next time.  And we hope to have a bigger team.  We've got plans and ideas.  We're excited and we hope you are too.  Because once the pink has touched your soul, you are changed forever.  And it's a good change.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why I walk-Danielle

When I first decided to do the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure walk, I wanted to walk in memory of my mother-in-law, Kathie Hess.  As I walked and talked and trained for the walk, I realized, I was not only motivated by the memory of my wonderful mother-in-law, but by the future of my daughters, my mother, my sister, my aunts, my cousins and my friends.  And for those women who I many never know, but who saw way too few years with their friends and family.  So why do I walk.  I walk in memory of Kathie.  I walk in honor of Emma and Grace.   I walk for more birthdays, more anniversaries, more graduations, more weddings, more celebrations, more victories, more laughter and more tomorrows.  I walk for those who can't, because I can.  And I walk with the hope that someday my girls won't have to.