Thursday, April 26, 2007

#63 - Do a charity walk, run or ride.

2007 Susan G Komen Race for The Cure

On Saturday, April 21st, 2007, I, along with my mom, Troy, several friends I used to work with and about 40,000 other people, participated in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure, which is a charity event that raises money for and awareness about breast cancer. I've participated in this event once before and also in an event called the Breast Cancer 3 Day where participants raise a minimum of $2000 (in 2004) and then walk 20 miles a day for three days in a row. In 2004, I walked from Kenosha, WI to Chicago, IL. (It's a LOOOONG way if you look at it on a map!) That event took quite a bit of intense training, but The Race for the Cure was a horse of a different color.

There are participants from all walks of life who's lives have been touched by breast cancer in one way or another. There are soccer moms to senior citizens, 2 year-olds to 82 year-olds (probably even older). The course is a 5k or 3.1 miles and the length of time it takes to finish it depends on how fast the mob in front of you is moving (not very fast) and if you stop at the port-a-potties (there was a line of them at every mile). We started towards the back 1/4 of the pack and by the time my mom got finished with a restroom stop at mile one, the end of the pack had nearly reached us. At one point, we commented that maybe this was less a "race" for the Cure and more a "mosey" for the cure.

In addition to making a donation of $30 to actually walk, participants can also purchase signs to wear on their backs "In Celebration" of a loved one who is fighting the battle with breast cancer or "In Memory" of a loved one who has lost the fight. It is always very touching and often brings a tear to my eye. One group of people who tugged at my heart were all about my age and wearing signs saying that they walked in memory of their mother and they had clipped a picture of her to each of their signs. One had even written, "I miss you, mom."

Before I participated in the Breast Cancer 3 Day, I actually hadn't been personally touched by someone I know having the disease. I just thought it was a great event to be part of and whether we are a woman who has breasts or a man who simply enjoys them, we are all touched by breast cancer and it's devastating effects. However, in the late summer of 2005, after I had participated in my walk, my brother's girlfriend Tammy was diagnosed. She was only 42 and had always led a healthy life. She never smoked, worked out, ate right, etc. It touched too close to home and I've been trying to participate in fund-raising efforts as much as I can now. (She is doing very well now after several surgeries and intensive treatment. God willing, she is back on the road to full health again.)
The event is sponsored by many local entities including WTHR (a local television station). There is an opening ceremony where survivors (appropriately dressed in special pink shirts) walk through a gateway of pink balloons behind numbers indicating the number of years they have survived cancer. Before and after the event you can stroll around and visit the booths of other sponsors including New Balance shoes (where we got cool pink shoe laces) and Ford (great pink scarves). Did I mention there is A LOT of pink?

Besides getting to participate in the event with my mom and Troy, the highlight of my day had to be this little girl who couldn't have been much older than 3. She was sort of walking along at her own pace. Her shirt was too big and she would often get her feet caught up in one another and kind of amble along like someone who had enjoyed one too many "beverages". She would occasionally push her sunglasses up on her face (also a bit large for her), but she seemed to be moving forward with such determination. This was a girl who was on a mission! I asked her mom if I could take a picture of her and she agreed. I don't even think the little girl noticed. She never missed a step.

If you would like more information about how you can get involved or support one of these charities, just click on one of the links under "Other stuff you might want to check out when you're bored."

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