We sat around for about an hour and then it started. Opening Ceremonies is always very moving. Our emcee, Sheree, is very uplifting and exhuberant, and frankly, had they had signups right then and there, I would be first on the list (thankfully they didn't). We were introduced to survivors, remembered those for whom we walk, and then a banner was raised with the names of those lost to breast cancer, and at the exact time, a gaggle of geese flew overhead - talking about ripping your heart out!! Soon we were given the signal, and off we went, all 1300 of us!
Technically, this was to be our route: Approximately 21.5 miles - The Philadelphia 3-Day will begin with an inspirational Opening Ceremony at Willow Grove Park Mall. We will travel through beautiful suburban neighborhoods on our way to Philadelphia. Once in Philadelphia, we'll go through Chestnut Hill, an area filled with interesting architecture, as well as many small shops and restaurants. The day will end as we walk to the Art Museum and down the "Rocky Steps" just before walking into camp, our home away from home for the weekend. And we pretty much followed course, except for maybe a few hitches along the way ...
We walked along in the neighborhoods, past homes and several schools. Many of the schools had their students and teachers and parents out, passing out water and treats - truly a treat just to have them out there! This day care had their littlest ones out - doing their best to cheer us on, and many were wearing pink!!
One of the first Pit Stops was with Rocky, whose steps we would hopefully be limping down later in the day. Here we adjusted any foot and toe bandages, refilled our water bottles and treats, and headed back out for the next few miles. The volunteers who prepare and monitor the Pit Stops and Grab and Gos (not to mention lunch, dinner, and safety) are totally amazing!!
Our next adventure was on Central Avenue, where the residents had blocked off each end of their street. They decorated their houses, were out cheering, and furnished drinks and more treats. The support from this group was amazing, and I especially loved the look and sentiment of the bra clothesline!!
We had planned all along to eat along the course rather than have the sandwich lunch furnished by the event. We were looking for a place to eat when Sharon's toe caught an upended part of the sidewalk and kersplat - down she went!! Her knees were bloodied like a 5-year-old on the playground (the resulting bruises on her hands and knees wouldn't show up until tomorrow). We patched her up and ended up eating lunch (furnished by UP Team Member Marilyn who is taking a sabbatical this year) right next door).
After lunch we got back on the route. Molly went on ahead, as she is much younger and walks faster. We walked and walked through the neighborhoods and into a park. As we came out of the park, the sun kept getting stronger and stronger (and hence the temperature got warmer and warmer). It struck KB with a vengeance, and soon enough she was not doing well (we had reached the Pit Stop at Mile 17). Pretty soon we were going from shade tree to shade tree in order for her to sit down (as opposed to passing out). Some fellow walkers were very generous in supplying things we didn't have, like electrolyte tablets and cool rags. A sweep van came past and the Fitty-Whats boarded and headed for the last pit stop where we took a camp bus for the last two miles (as opposed to a hearse). Molly forged ahead for all the miles, and we met her back at the hotel (the camp is located indoors at the convention center, which is connected to our hotel - very convenient, especially if you prefer a bed to sleeping on the floor).
All in all, it was a good day - certainly not what we planned, but a good day nevertheless! Today I walked for Emily, Jane, Bethany, Frank, and Janet.
Today was a gift because: walkers and crew of the 3-Day; Opening Ceremonies; dudes who helped Sharon; lunch on Marilyn; sweep van crew; walkers who helped; dinner and room service