I had to do one last post on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in Tampa Bay last week. One last post (maybe…) to give my thoughts on the event and weekend as a whole.
Last year, I was a spectator. I supported my sister-in-law Jenna on her training walks, and got to know some great women. Even though I wasn’t part of the event or the team at that time, I felt very much at home with these women, and looked forward to the training walks each week. When the 2011 3-Day finally arrived, I was out cheering each of the three days, so very proud of Jenna and all the members of Thanks For The Mammories as they walked 60 miles all for breast cancer.
(Photo courtesy of Carol)
This year, as a crew member, I felt as if I was part of a family. One very large family who were all out there fighting for the same thing. When I signed up to drive a sweep van with Jenna, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I never could have imagined what it would be like.
The day of the crew meeting, we found out that Thanks For The Mammories was the largest team this year, and second largest fundraising team, having raised approximately $92,000. (Thank you to Sheila for sharing this info in your very timely email last night!)
A week ago today, Jenna and I were up before the crack of dawn, getting ready to start our weekend as Boob 1 and Boob 2. All kidding aside, we were both nervous and anxious, not sure what to expect. From the moment we picked up our first walkers, I knew it was going to be a good weekend, that we would make a difference. And somehow, amongst all the walkers, we remembered each person we picked up and helped, and kept an eye out for them all weekend.
(Photo courtesy of www.the3day.org)
Each of the three days was long and it was hard work. Driving or riding in a van for 11+ hours a day, under 20 MPH, and getting out 50+ times a day, is exhausting. I kept thinking I was crazy to think what I was doing was hard, I wasn’t the one walking 60 miles. But, there were 7 sweep vans, and it was all our job to keep an eye on 1000 walkers, to get their attention, make sure they were okay, and keep them alert.
If I had to pick a moment I would remember the most in terms of a walker, it would be Day 2, as we waited for the last walkers to come in. I wish I knew her a name. There was a walker, very much in pain, limping, and crying with each step she took. We saw her less than a mile from camp, offered to help her, to drive her closer to camp and she could walk in. She refused. No words needed to be said, she was determined to walk in to camp, no matter the pain in getting there. When she passed the sweep vans, so close to camp, still crying, I was so touched. I don’t know who she was walking for – herself, a loved one, a friend… I will never know. But I was so proud to be a part of something so wonderful that brought on such emotion.
The last walkers coming on on Day 2.
Camping with all the walkers and crew was just as exciting. We were literally one big family. I constantly found myself watching for people we had swept during the day, or our team members. I love this picture of Jenna, Janet, and I.
In addition to all of this, I very much enjoyed the time with my sister-in-law Jenna. I am the first to admit I can’t imagine spending 3 days with just anyone, in a van for 11+ hours a day, and then camping at night…. And at the end of the day, we sat outside our tents in our folding chairs and talked. I feel like we worked very well together, we make a great team, and I appreciate the time we spent together. I am happy we will share these memories, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It is something I will remember for a very long time.
When the weekend came to a close on Sunday, I was exhausted and drained, but felt like I had made a difference. It was, and still is, a great feeling.
This past Monday, there was an after-party for the team, hosted by Deborah at her beautiful home. I took time off work to go, as did Jenna. It’s not surprising at all that Jenna and I were both wearing the shirts we bought over the weekend.
(Photo courtesy of Jenna)
It was a nice afternoon, great to see much of the team, and talk about the experience we all shared over the weekend.
If you ever have the chance to participate in the 3-Day or a similar event, to be a part of a team that pulls together for one similar cause, I highly recommend it. It is a life-changing experience. Every person out there could have been me or someone I love. No one is immune to breast cancer, but we can all make a difference. If you would like more information, please visit www.the3day.org.