THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! For supporting my 3 Day Walk for Breast Cancer and the Susan G Komen Philanthropic Trust. Thanks to you I raised $2700, and Alex raised almost $6,000. There were more than 2200 Walkers, and 400 volunteers, this years walk raised 5.5 Million Dollars! Since it’s inception, the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk has raised over 400 Million Dollars.
When asked if I met my goal, I passed on something I heard from another walker, “What, did they cure breast cancer?” because that is the ultimate goal. I walked (hobbled much of the time) in honor of my sister Jill. She is my hero.
I wanted to share a bit of the experience with you, my supporters. Without you I would not have been allowed to walk, each walker is required to raise at least $2300 to participate.
Training for the walk had challenges itself. It was difficult to make time to walk 3, 4 , 5 or 6 hours even once or twice a week, so we did much less walking than they recommend. Back in early August I suffered what I thought was a stress fracture but turned out to be Gout in my right foot on our longest training walk of 17.5 miles. That pain nagged at me throughout the rest of the training and the 3 Day Event. Then less than 2 weeks before the walk I severely sprained my ankle and was forced to stay off it as much as possible and ice as much as I could. I was seriously questioning my ability to participate in the walk.
Anytime I experienced pain, I just kept thinking about Jill, and how my pain is nothing compared to the suffering she endured. Thinking of Jill carried me through this experience, which, as it turns out, was meant to be.
A week before the walk, Alex and I received an email from one of the 3 Day Event Organizer’s, saying she saw our 1KpaperCranes.com website and read about our reasons for walking. She had been searching for 2 more people to fill the last 2 spots carrying Honor Flags at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. One was the “Sister” flag, and the other the “Father” flag. Alex’s father had esophageal cancer and also has passed on. She said it was a perfect fit. We agreed and accepted the honor.
We awoke at 4:30 Friday a bit tired but ready to go. My ankle felt pretty good and so did my foot. I was excited for the experience ahead. We proudly carried our flags at the opening ceremony then off we went. So many people, so much PINK! Mostly women, occasionally I’d see another guy sporting a “Real Men Wear PINK” shirt or a Pink ball cap. Me, I wore a T-Shirt that said “I LOVE (heart symbol) BOOBS! With Support Breast Cancer Awareness underneath. Any other context and I would have been crucified!
I met a gentleman at the opening ceremony, who was in his full fireman uniform, coat pants, helmet and all, over 40 pounds of gear. His name was Tony Scoccolo, so I asked him if he knew Pat Scoccolo, who was a close friend of mine in Junior High and High School. It was his cousin. Tony’s Mom passed away from breast cancer last Sept. and he decided to do the walk in honor of her, and his Aunt, who is my friend Pat’s mom, and a breast cancer survivor. Tony is a firefighter for the port of Seattle and when his firefighter buddies got word of the walk, they egged him on and challenged him and 4 others to do the entire walk in their full firefighter gear. They made bets and received larger donations to do the walk in full gear. And they did it! At the end Tony said it was the hardest physical challenge of his life. I have to agree with that, and I was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt!
Off we went, I felt pretty good when we arrived at the first pit stop at 3.1 miles into the first day. Then I stepped on the edge of the pavement where it turned to grass and I sprained my ankle AGAIN! I was so upset, it hurt so bad I actually cried. Alex said it was ok to stop, but I kept thinking about Jill and once again, no amount of pain can begin to compare to what she went through. I hobbled to the medical tent and they taped my ankle up real good so it wouldn’t collapse again. We started walking again, I was limping because of sharp pain shooting up my leg, and developed a painful charlie horse in right butt cheek! It was sooo freakin painful. Day one was pretty miserable for me, I was in extreme pain the whole day. One step at a time, 8 hours later, we made it – 21.6 miles.
Wasn’t sure I’d make it back on Sat. My friend Lonnie re-taped my ankle, and we showed up not sure what to expect. Lots of stretching and I managed to do ok on Sat, but it was also very hot. Alex and I were both exhausted. My muscles ached, I got sick, shivers and sweats all night, it was crazy. We did almost 44 miles the first two days so only 15+ miles was left on Sunday. I felt better, my body had recovered somewhat, I had very little pain and honestly Sunday was a piece of cake.
When we signed up for the walk they don’t tell you where in the Puget Sound area you’ll be walking. The last 2 years they started in Tukwila, walked through the eastside, camped at Marymoor park in Redmond and ended up at Seattle Center. We found out a week or so before the walk we’d be starting at Shoreline Community College and walking to Everett Friday and Saturday, then Sunday would start around Green Lake, walk up Capitol Hill then end up at the Seattle Center.
The route Saturday took us directly down Jill’s street and past her, Tim and Anna’s house in Everett. Later that day we passed the church where her memorial service was, and then we started up a walking trail and Alex said to me “is that a golf course over there to the left” I stopped in my tracks and responded something like “OH MY GOD! That is the cemetery where Jill is buried. It was a challenging experience both physically and emotionally. When we passed the cemetery I was overheated, dehydrated and exhausted. I just broke down crying right there while walking along the trail. Grief is a very powerful emotion, even years later. Ya think maybe I was meant to do this walk?
Alex is a trooper, she battled tendonitis in her Achilles for the past 2 months but she still kicked my sorry butt. We finished the 60 mile trek together, hand in hand. With all the challenges I experienced, I doubt I would have made it without her patience, love and encouragement.
I did a ½ Iron Triathlon Swim (1.2 Miles) and Bike (56 miles) 2 years ago, and 2 – 100 mile+ century bike rides a year ago, they were nothing compared to walking 60 miles, over 3 days. 25 Hours of walking in all (including breaks)
During the walk we were in the presence of 2200 amazing people, all with a story. Some breast cancer survivors, just as Jill was when she did the 3 Day Walk during a remission 8 years ago.
My Parents Jack and Terri, Brother Mark, Sister Linda, Jill’s husband Tim and her Daughter Annelise all joined us at the closing ceremony.
I am grateful for the experience and look forward to doing it again next year, and every year after that as long as I am physically able, until a cure for breast cancer is discovered. Thank you again for your support. Your money went to a great cause. You’ll hear from me again next Summer, I appreciate any and all contributions. If anyone is interested in joining our 1000 Paper Cranes Team, shoot me an email, we’d love to have you with us.
With Love and Gratitude,