Thursday, October 7, 2010

The sum of all our steps - so much more than 60 miles

From my perspective.

Looking back on the 2010 3-day walk there are so many memories, it is hard to narrow things down. I tried to come up with 10 representative pictures that will help me tell you what this walk meant to me. I don't know if that is possible. But here is my best try.

Oh and by the way... there are 12 photos. Just because.

The team.

Our team was a collection of people from Patti's life and mine. Each person had their own reasons for walking in this walk. All of them have exceeded what they thought was possible in the beginning. That is what the 3 day will do for you. In the beginning you don't think it is possible to walk 60 miles (or you do in the beginning of training, until reality sets in and the legs start freezing up). Undoubtedly everyone had their doubts at one time or another. But you realize on your 18/10 back to back training walk that you are not alone. You have your team right there with you.

You don't believe in the beginning that you will be able to raise $2300, until you realize that you don't have to do that alone... There are the donors and your team to help. You don't think you could ever sleep in a little pink tent, until you wake up in the morning after day one and realize, maybe you were right! But there is something pretty fantastic waking up with 1400 people getting ready to attack the next day of the walk. Each step of the walk is made easier by having a team with you along the way. There is strength in numbers they say... but as far as a team of walkers go, the number is less important than the commitment of its members. I was blessed with a GREAT team.

Stephanie walked with us this year. Its a big year for her. She retired and she walked in the 3 day. Glenn and I have been friends with the Cihaks for eons. They are our children's godparents. But lately with all of life's twists and turns we have lost some of the closeness we used to feel. Not that we weren't emotionally close still, but we weren't spending the kind of time we did in the early days. As we approach transitions in life, and lately us baby boomers are flooded with those, you take a survey of where you were and were you are going. The Cihaks have been there throughout.

So with Stephanie walking with us, it helped us reconnect in a very meaningful way. I got to train with her. Chat about everything and everybody. I got to get to know this gal who is obviously talented and accomplished in a way I hadn't ever seen before. Stephanie was solidly behind this walk from the day she signed up. She shared the frustration we all feel when people around us don't seem to get it. And she shared and was a huge part of the success you can have as a team together. She and Chuck were instrumental in the success of Wine Wars as they cooked their ways into the record books. The $10,000 the event raised helped make our team #3 per capita in fundraising.

Allison and Katie got to spend some time with her that they had never really spent before. Our ties were strengthened and our friendship deepened by having her walk by our sides.

One of those walkers impressed me no end.


Dana had said last year (about the week before the walk) that he was going to walk with the team. I discouraged him. OK, maybe I just said he couldn't. I told him there was training involved and I wasn't going to see him hurt by shortcutting that. I told him next year he was welcome to walk as long as he #1. Saw his doctor and #2. Trained.

Well that is exactly what he did. Religiously he referred to the training schedule and for the most part stuck to it. It paid off. Dana walked the entire 60 miles and was his own unique self along the way. When I remember the 2010 walk, I will remember Dana and how he took this challenge on and did such an amazing job. Yup, Dana impressed me and a lot of other people.

I will remember the homeless man asking him if he was a pimp with all those fine ladies. I will remember the look he had on his face that hinted at the motivation he had inside that kept him going. I will remember a stubborn, determined and very "Dana-like" will.

On the walk there are moments that you simply glow about. Those almost always are because people have come out to show they care. On day 2 the Coast Guard welcomed the walkers at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. They had those bright young smiles and even the men among them (because there were a couple of gals) are tough enough to wear pink. Even their dog is dressed in pink. The inflatable is adored with pink balloons. They stand at their fence for hours as the walkers come by. They stand for photos and encouragement. They stand in salute.

I often wonder if this walk impacts others as much as it does the walkers. I have to believe it does. When you see a woman who is obviously still battling cancer walking with determination and with a reserved energy that you simply marvel at, how can you not be impressed. When a woman in her 70s, walking with a limp with a steely glaze in her eyes passes in front of you as she struggles down the road, how can you not be moved. You are stopped in your tracks by a young man wearing a sign that says I am walking for my Mom, as you realize his Mom lost her battle. I think about how long it took me to ever go and see these miracles. I can only wish others not wait so long.

On day 2, after walking through a less than friendly Sausalito, I was so thrilled to see my business family waiting for us at the border to Mill Valley. I was immensely proud to have their support. To see Myriam with her bright welcoming smile. To get a Carllie hug. To see my manager Steve with his basket of candy. The others with their dogs and their children. To see the open house signs saying "we are walking with you" all did my heart good. But honestly, I know what it meant to the walkers. It meant someone on this side of the bridge got it. I am very grateful to Susan Gordon who did so much to make this happen. I am grateful for the 1/2 page ad in the Marin IJ that Alain Pinel ran to advertise the walk and this cheering stand. I hope it becomes a tradition and each and every person who came will tell 10 more how incredible the experience was.

I will remember the incredible crew that work this event. Walking so far takes a lot of energy and emotion. It would be easy after day one, to simply stop and go home. But for me the crew makes that next to impossible.

Like the Manbulance
John and Ken are a dancing mood lifter. There is no way you could walk by this sweep van without dancing a bit with these great guys.

Like Bill, "Welcome to my crosswalk" Bill. He has a gentle way of just making you feel taken care of. A bright smile and a warm heart, he isn't too flashy but you can't help but remember him. I remember Bill from 2009 and I will remember him from 2010.

The dancing girl with the clappers in her hands. How can you dance that long and not fall down???

The fellow with the pink leggings. The guys who wore a tutu.

AND the San Jose cops. My oh my they are in a category all themselves. I will remember dancing on the first day with the one who had been pounding on the doors of the port-a-potties.
You thank them and they reply that each and every one of them wants to be there. They certainly make you feel special. Especially that fine young thing that rode his bike up the hill to the bridge with Katie and me. He talked us all the way up the hill.

Yup.... we are so lucky to have people who will give of themselves to support us.

And Katie and Patti found out how wonderful the medical volunteers are. Katie's resolve to walk this walk was incredible. I know with her schedule and the weather conditions in the Northwest training was challenging for her. But she ultimately walked 45 miles which is quite an accomplishment. She had help all along the way from the medical crew. She especially commented on the fellow who worked on her shoulder saying he was especially competent and kind.

Patti had one on one attention to a blister that was above and beyond from a gal named Cherise. I know from last year, when you need medical you are soooooo grateful they are there for you.

When Katie told me at Christmas she would be walking in the 3 day it did my heart good. I knew this walk would help us be closer, but it was the fact that she wanted to be closer that touched me so much. When the time came that she needed to stop walking she apologized and was very sad. I saw the look in her eyes that I know too well. The look that says I want to do this, I should be able to do this, but I can't. I told her how proud I was of her and how happy I was that she was there with me. I was proud of the initiative she showed trying to raise money for the walk. I meant it. I will always remember her walking by my side in this walk. It meant the world.

Maybe the best of all things on this walk are the kids. Mine and other people's. For me to walk with my daughters this year was incredible. Allison's commitment to the 3 day seems to grow with each year. I know there will be a time when she will be in some foreign country and not able to walk with me. As proud as I am of her accomplishments on her career front I am as proud or more proud of how she has fully embraced this walk. So, when I saw this little guy come running up to her with a small sprig of jasmine, I felt like he has doing it for me. He was thanking her for being there. And his gift made us all beam.

Allison is an intelligent, determined lady. The fact that she re-injured her foot on day two, didn't surprise me. I think it did surprise her. I know the demands of her life made the kind of training I did, next to impossible. I do know she did everything she could do to train as much as she could train. And she raised a lot of money to participate.

With an injury like hers, you would think on day 3 she would simply sit out the rest of the walk. But if you think that you don't know her. That strong will had her back at it - finishing the walk with me despite the inconvenience of pain.

People who support you. Now on that topic I am overly blessed. I had over 100 donors this year. That is a lot! I finished as #3 in the SF Bay Area for fund raising. Wine Wars had businesses and people who went above and beyond, helping us all exceed our own expectations in a very challenging economic time.

During the walk we had people come to cheer. Wren brought us lattes and.... SONYA came from Arizona to surprise me at the finish. Bill and MB came to closing ceremonies and I understand Barbara and Curtiss and Jill came to meet us along the way (but we missed seeing them.)

You know what you are doing is important to you. It makes it even more significant that others see that and stand with you, whether as a walker or a cheerer. I am filled with gratitude to them.

I will remember our family.

On this 3 day walk I was surrounded by all my family. Our two daughters, now all grown up and on their own, back by my side. Bright smiles on their faces I was sent back to days when they were my little ones. My heart could burst with the love I felt and still feel for them. You can grow up and move away, but you will always be my little girls. I want you to be happy. I want you to be as blessed as I have been. I want us always always always to be able to be together as a family. As different as each of us are from each other, we are family. YOU are my family and I love you.
There are no words that can adequately express what I feel for my man in a pink boa. Love is to shallow a word. Respect is only part of it. I could try and try and never come close.

When Glenn first came along to cheer this 3 day last year he shyly hopped from spot to spot. I had given him beads to hand out, and boas to wear. For the first few pitstops he blended into the grey of the city. Somewhere along the line he gave out his first beads and watched as that simple act could reignite the spirit of the woman he gave it to. By the end of the walk he, Dana, Curtiss and Chris were all wearing their boas. John (who is British) preferred to put the boa on his crutch he was using at the time. But there they were all in pink.

It seemed to me by the time the pink came out, Glenn's eyes lit up. He could see how much of a difference they were making on this walk to people he didn't even know. I hope he could see how much of a difference he made to me.

This year Glenn was our head cheerer. This was Stephanie's first walk and Chuck's as well. Chuck seemed to avoid the pink boa until the second day. I remember him standing in Mill Valley with one around his neck. But Glenn, Glenn wore his 24/7 throughout this walk. In doing so..... it is obvious, he gets it. I am so lucky to be married to a man who can see beyond himself enough to wear pink.

The final memory is for Patti.

This walk started for me when Patti got her diagnosis of Cancer.

Patti is a dear dear friend of mine and a godmother to the girls. I have known her since 1972. We have shared alot with each other. Marriages, divorces, deaths. We have heard the sounds of babies crying and children laughing. We have felt the wind on our faces on the Mediterrean and lived in the same chilling fog of Richardson Bay. We have both gotten that call that told us we have Breast Cancer.

When Patti got her call, she called me. I felt like a mother eagle lifting up to the sky with my talons at the ready. Eyes sharply surveying for danger around. I wanted to battle for her. I wanted to protect her.

What I discovered as I flew above, was that I needed to protect myself. I realized I had been hiding from my own Cancer for 14 years. I was preparing myself to fight a fight for Patti that I hadn't fought for myself. And in that there was a great gift.

It's funny how something so devastating can ignite a passion that directs your life to a place that is transforming.

Patti and I walked last year with Allison and two of our Sorority sisters, and it was certainly a once in a lifetime moment. This year walking with Allison and Katie, Stephanie and Dana and Cathy Shea, the walk was meaningful in some different ways. But both walks for me carry one great moment. Patti and I walking into the survivor circle, hand in hand. Sisters.

I stood next to another survivor at the end who I didn't know. I looked at her and saw tears glistening in her eyes. I said to her "look what you did." Then quickly I added "No look what we did" and the tear fell from her eyes and she responded "Yes look what we did."

That same moment when she heard the words "you have Breast Cancer" had made that woman my sister too. Standing next to Patti, this woman, and all those others in pink I wanted to shout to the sky "Look what we have done! Take that Cancer!"

So now 2010 is behind us and I am looking back only to look forward to what is to come. I cannot give up this fight just yet. I would like to say I will always walk, but I can't promise that. I can promise I hope I will always be able to walk.

Next year I will. In Washington DC. To the steps of Congress and the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. I will walk and shout to the sky "Take that Cancer!"

If you would like to help keep me walking please donate to the 2011 walk. Same address. Different walk.

We are not nearly done.