Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk

I don't even know where to begin with this post of our weekend. This is the longest post I've ever done, but I promise it will bless you! So please hang in there.

The weekend was incredible, emotional and so much fun and I didn't really even do much, when you compare what I did with 2,400 women and men who walked 60 miles in 3 days! Talk about feeling like the laziest person in the world.

Heath's sister, Ashley, walked in DFW's Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk. If you are not familiar with it, you can google it and read all about the walks they hold around the country.

Ashley and 5 other women from the law firm she works at were members of Team Smokin' Hot. All the teams had fun, silly names. It's very woman driven considering the Susan G. Komen organizational color is pink, therefore it was a sea of pink, which I loved. Pink cups, pink backpacks, pink feather boas, pink hats, even the tents they slept in at night were pink.

Heath, Ella, Heath's mom and myself spent probably a total of 18 hours throughout the weekend on the 60 mile course cheering our team on and the other ladies. It really was an incredible experience, besides the extreme laziness I felt as these ladies passed me limping from the 40 miles they had previously walked.

The race is very well organized. They have specific pit stops with bathrooms, snacks and drinks. A lunch stop. And then they have camp set up for them that night upon their arrival, with portable showers, entertainment and dinner.

They walked from Southfork Ranch in Plano, 60 miles to Southern Methodist University in Dallas. They break it up to where they walk 20 miles a day.

It was such an emotional 3 days that I couldn't help but want to document it for the girls. I have a serious addiction to taking pictures and took 600 over the course of the 3 days. I tried to narrow it down but it was hard. I hope you enjoy.

Day One

This was Friday, so Heath was not able to join us, but Kay, Ella and I made our way to Plano. After a couple hours of trying to find Ashley, who blended in well with the other 2,400 women dressed in pink, we were in full cheering mode. All the ladies were in good spirits, very excited about the adventure they had just embarked on!

Mile 5. This was the first time we saw them on the course. They were so excited to see Ella!

Ella surpassed all of her cuteness this weekend. She literally stood on the side clapping and waving to all of the hundreds of women that passed us. I know she blessed them.

Team Smokin' Hot! Mile 10!

And they're off!

Day Two

Heath joined us this day and was such a great little brother. He willingly participated and joined in with my obsession with this race, wanting to cheer these women on as much as I could. Before we left our house, we loaded up our cooler with water, gatorade, monsters, and bananas.

When we arrived on the course, we thankfully found his sister's team right as they were taking a rest for a moment. As soon as we pulled up and parked, there were immediate hugs and tears flowing from the walkers. The walk had started taking its toll on them physically and emotionally. I can't imagine this second day, being so exhausted and also so touched by all the women and their STORIES, and the emotion welling up in them.

They said it had been a hard day so far. They were tired. They already had blisters, as all the women did, and they were absorbing the emotions of the women who were walking in memory of somebody, or walking for themselves or walking as a survivor! After surveying the scene and the extra bit of support they were needing, we knew we were going to be there until they finished the 20th mile for the day.

So throughout the day we would go about a mile or two ahead of where they were on the course, pull over, get out with our signs and cheer them on as they passed, frequently handing out more fluids and encouraging words. At every stop we were met with more tears from them. I was overwhelmed with pride. What a display of strength. We could not help but cry along with them.

Taking a banana break with Aunt Ashley @ mile 29!

Krystal mending her feet!

Angela and Ella!

More high fives for all the sweet ladies!

This was after Ella spotted Aunt Ashley's team walking up. She literally took off sprinting for them. She was happy to see them again at mile marker 30!

She wanted to keep walking with them so badly.

Mile 38! Only 2 more to go for the day! It was getting really rough for the walkers at this point and they were ready to get to the campsite and sit!

This is part of the camp. Don't you just love the sea of pink tents?! So perfect! Every time I look at this picture, I imagine all 2,400 women/men sitting around at night resting their weary feet and learning each other's stories. Praise the Lord at this point in my life, I have not been directly affected by breast cancer in my family. But I have very good friends who have been, whose mother's were taken away from their children unspeakably early because of this disease. For example, I saw this older woman that had a shirt on that said, "I'm the reason my daughter walked 60 miles." How do you even handle that?
I have a good friend from college whose mother died a few years ago from it and she was also walking for her mother. It was really hard for me to control my emotions while cheering her on knowing the different perspective and reason why she was walking 60 miles.

The Vans

These vans blessed me every time I saw them, which was almost constantly. The purpose of the vans (or boob mobile) was to drive up and down the course and cheer the women on and be just flat out silly. Also, to pick up walkers who can't go on for the day and take them on ahead to camp. The part that blessed me was how they decorated the vans. It was AWESOME! And the women ate it up!

Day 3 - The Closing Ceremony

This was definitely the most emotional day of all!

They made it! 60 Miles! This is their team officially crossing the finish line.

More tears flowing!

A hug for big sister!

The closing ceremony was very intense. The walkers had a final victory walk as hundreds of family and friends lined up to cheer them on! It was incredible. This is our team walking in!

All the walkers gathered inside this gate by the stage while the CEO made her emotional speech. I LOVED this. Each walker took off one of their shoes and held it up. It was awesome!

The walkers that are currently fighting breast cancer and those that had survived it had a special victory walk carrying these flags after all the other walkers had walked in! The tears were out of control from everyone. This was my favorite part of the day.

Mom and Daughter!



Amanda said...

I'm crying right now. That was so incredible. We must do it one year. Three years from now, right? We may have some baby weight to get rid of anyway.

Sunni at The Flying Mum said...

I love this post! So awesome that they did the 3-day! Save the boobies!

The Preacher's Wife said...

Can't even imagine what a powerful experience this was...

or how long it took you to put together that awesome post! :)

loved this..


Anonymous said...

Excellent post.
Great pictures.

Thanks for sharing with us.
Love- Annette

Lamar, Jill and Tyler said...

I have done the 3 day the past two years (last year I was 8 months pregnant) and it truly gives you the most amazing feeling of accomplishment. I wasn't able to do it this year and I have cried many times this weekend thinking about how I am missed out on something so incredible. Thank you for this post. For those of us who have had breast cancer affect our lives, we thank you for seeing the 3 days impact! PS-Im looking for a walking partner for next year. You interested?

Ang baylis said...

This was an amazing post! I feel like I was there with you guys. I have a special place in my heart for this one... I lost my oldest sister from breast cancer! They know so much more today than they did 9 years ago! Thanks, I needed a good cry today!


Promise Christian Academy said...

Wonderful that you were able to be involved in this. My Aunt is a two time survivor. My small contribution is to ALWAYS purchase anything I see that gives part of the cost to the foundation. I have a lot of pink Pampered Chef and candles and jewelry..... Most of the time I pass it on to my neices who both want a pink kitchen! I know it isn't much, but it is what I can do.
Hilda Rebecca

Kristin said...

Okay, so I don't know how anyone made it past cute Ella on the sidelines. That hat and those tights!!!! How did they not all get too distracted by the cuteness to go on!?!?!

Fran said...

BEAUTIFUL!! BEAUTIFUL!! Thank you so much for sharing that wonderful journey with us.

Blessings to you~

Heather said...

I want to do the 3 day one year. This inspired me to make it sooner rather than later!

MamaCass said...

I loved this post!!! These women are amazing. I loved all the pictures of Ella cheering them on. So sweet!