Sunday, August 26, 2007

The following are some pictures from my first Breast Cancer 3-Day experience; August 10-12, 2007 in Chicago. If you are looking at this website, you most likely have been directed here because you kindly donated to this cause. Allow me to thank you once again for your part in this amazing journey. These pictures depict only a small snippet of the simply enormous effort and number of people in this event. Photo credits go to my father Jim, my friend Jaime, and my new-found friend and "official photographer" for my group, Rose.

Thank you for visiting my site. And thank you for helping to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

The 3-Day Begins...6:00am

There was not much time for good-byes, as the line of cars was immense. Funny, neither Jaime (who kindly got up at 4:45am to drive me) nor I even thought that there just might be some traffic around the opening ceremony site...So, Jaime snapped this picture (while a fairly large man standing outside her car gruffly tried to keep the cars moving) from her driver's seat. Mostly, I thought that the larger-than-me backpack that almost made me fall over would just make a funny picture.

Along the Trail...

Me, Cathy


Our guardian angel.

The walk just officially began...we all just filed out of the opening ceremony, through a long tunnel of cheering crew, volunteers, and supporters. We couldn't help but stop for this photo op. And I don't think any of us knew at this point how much we would come to adore this angel (and fairy, in another picture) - the sound of something as simple as a bike bell gave us strength and energy.

This is a fence at a pit stop. I think this balloon ribbon on a front lawn was one of the most memorable displays of support - we saw almost everyone taking a picture as we walked by. And a young man (teenage, we would guess) simply stood along the sidewalk, smiling and greeting and saying "thank you." And occasionally, he was talked into standing in pictures with walkers next to the balloons.
The support of the community was overwhelming. From displays like this to people standing along the sidewalk with bags of ice. There were signs in yards. A sign saying "I was diagnosed in 1967, and am still here today" (we all cheered the house, having no idea if anyone was home); a table and chair set up in a yard, with a posterboard in honor of a loved one, messages, and a big bucket of licorice; and just when we thought we couldn't eat another popsicle, a lady standing along the sidewalk putting them in our hands as she said, "I am alive today because of you" (through tears, we looked at each other and said, "well, now we have to eat them!").

The support was too much to list.

HUGE lesson learned:

Porta-Potties are not all that bad.

Of course, ours were emptied every night, and I imagine that not all Portas are created equal, but still...I have never been so happy to see those things in my life.

One of our favorite pit stops.

Rose, Cathy, volunteer, and Me.

With the possible exception of Victoria's Secret, I don't think there was a place on the planet with more [pink] bras that day...behind us on the clothes line, lining the food, drink, and medical tents, along a line leading back to the road...

Day 1 comes to a close...

The pink tent city. Also known as "boobville." I took this with
my cell phone.
The tents were really cute.
That is, until 3:00am the 2nd night
when I thought it just might fly away
with me in it when the storm whipped

Day 2. On the road again...

A few members of the awesome safety crew.
Not only did they keep us safe, they kept our spirits up.

One of the people Rose was walking in honor of is the woman in the black shirt. She and her husband met us at one of the cheering stations during the second half of Day 2...with iced tea! Iced tea has never tasted SO GOOD!
Also on Day 2, our number of 3 increased to 4...We saw a wonderful woman we had met at dinner the night before as we were leaving a pit stop...her mother-in-law could no longer go on so Chrissy joined us.
Rose, Chrissy, Cathy, Chrissy, Me
We did it! We made it back to camp! Day 2.

Day 3. On the road AGAIN.

The final stretch of the 66 (ish)-mile journey brought us along the Lake Shore
The "finish line"

Closing Ceremony Site...soon, the fenced-in area will be filled with 2200 walkers (and thousands more will be lining the outside - cheering)

After the walkers crossed the finish line, we waited in a holding area for everyone to finish...then we were off (yes, MORE walking!) to the Closing Ceremony
Standing in line waiting to go into the Closing Ceremony

Closing Ceremony

We are walking into the central closing ceremony area. To my right are Cathy and Rose, the 2 walkers who adopted me first thing Friday morning.

After the walkers were in the central area, the survivors who walked came down the can see what our tribute was as they walked by us. An emotional moment to say the least.

8 Survivors were chosen to start the walk, and thus signified the official close of the walk. They stood in a circle similar to this in opening ceremonies as well.

Final Pictures

We received a rose (and a t-shirt, of course)
at the end of the walk. This beauty survived
a night at Jaime's, 24-hours in my trunk, and a
9-hour backseat car ride to Minnesota. It was
still looking this wonderful a week after receiving it!
This is the shirt (with names of people you donated in honor, in memory, and in support of) that I wore on the last day. The bandana was tied to my waist pack all 3 days, so I had the names with me at all times.