Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Pair of Sneakers

Last weekend I spent three days walking in San Diego. It was an amazing experience. The walk itself was beautiful – along the coast to see surfers and crashing waves, down streets lined with shops and cafes, up (and up and up) hills that literally took my breath away, through beautiful parks where I could shed my shoes and run my feet through the grass, and in neighborhoods where the residents set up stands and offered encouragement along the way.

Rather than try to describe this indescribably awesome experience, I thought I would just list some of the highlights:

*children offering bowls of candy, saying, “Go walkers!” in their sweet little voices

*signs, signs, and more signs with words that made us laugh, become teary-eyed, and keep taking that next step

*groups of girl scouts, teenagers, families, schools, sports teams, and just about any group that could call itself a group, out on the course, just to show support by cheering, passing out stickers, and offering snacks and drinks

*the boys lacrosse team who walked in honor of one of their teammate’s mom

*the signs, shirts and ribbons worn by the walkers to honor those affected by breast cancer

* the survivors who walked in the event and those who cheered us along the route

* the San Diego, San Jose, and other law enforcement officers who kept us safe along the route

* the countless volunteers who carried our bags to our already-set-up tents, or prepared and served our food, or cleaned up, or offered a kind word, or bandaged our blistered feet and wounded bodies, or massaged our weary muscles, or passed out towels, or restocked the porta-potties, or did whatever it took to make the weekend unforgettable

*the walkers who looked after each other, who helped another get up that hill, who offered assistance and advice when needed, who shared their bandages and ibuprofen, who passed along their cardboard squares to sit on the damp ground, or who told their personal stories as you walked along with them

*the dude who took Marilyn’s hand and walked with her awhile along the beach

* the bars and cafes who offered specials (like $1 margaritas) and treats in front of their establishments

* the Girl Scouts who gave out Thin Mints on Sunday morning

* the snores from the tent behind us, and the walker who yelled out “STOP SNORING” at some point in the night

* the Girl Scout troop who bussed our plates at the end of dinner

* the hot showers in the shower trucks

* the unbelievable, absolute kindness and good spirits of everyone involved in the 3-Day (well, except for the one old geezer who yelled, “Quit taking up the whole sidewalk!” – he’s lucky he kept going, because there were several walkers in our group who were about to get him!)

* the walker who gave out pins to random walkers

* the butterfly lady with butterflies representing her donors and honorees, the sisters we had breakfast with, the knee-cyst lady, the sister team during opening ceremonies, the two friends who helped Marilyn get a good position in the closing ceremony, the brother/sister team in the tent next door, and countless other walkers we met along the way

* the fact that over 3800 walkers raised over 9 million dollars this weekend alone

* the poignant and meaningful opening ceremony when we honored those we lost to breast cancer and the inspiring closing ceremony when we honored the survivors

In other words, it was three days and sixty miles, but so much more. It was a lifetime of memories packed into those three and sixty. It was the chance to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. It was the physical representation of how people can get together and do something momentous on many levels. It was the opportunity to do something significant that will literally save someone’s life.

And all I had to do was put on my sneakers and walk.


Things that make today great: watching Pelham 123 and GI Joe with Molly; doing a little of this and that

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