Sure, we were all tired. And our feet hurt.
And more than a few of us had on the equivalent of moleskin socks.
But there was
That last day, the energy and enthusiasm and gratitude of the people lining the route, actually carried me to the finish.
There were wonderful pit stops, stocked with all kinds of fresh fruit and snacks, including boxes of Uncrustables. (Never had one before. Never thought I'd enjoy them as much as I did. Never thought I'd rush out to Costco and buy a huge box because they are the best.creation.ever!)
There were hilarious and grateful pit stop workers - many of them breast cancer survivors, themselves.
There were more huge hills...
And there were more people with funny ...
And thoughtful t-shirts.
There were younger men who made us smile...
And older men who made us proud...
And there were scores of people who made us think about the loved ones they had lost.
There were children dressed up...
And dogs dressed up...
There were babies colored up...
And adults colored up...
And even dogs colored up.
There were courageous police men wearing pink shirts and pink shoelaces and pink beads that took a break to swing at one of the playgrounds along our route.
And we walked past a local school chorus, who were singing...
... these lyrics which were provided by the school's Music Director.
Our incredible three-day journey ended at Petco Park in downtown San Diego.
And our awesome husbands and beautiful children were there, waiting for us. (Including my own husband who brought me a dozen long stem pink roses and eight pink balloons - for each of the loved ones we have lost to cancer.)
We concluded our walk by passing beneath the "Hoofin' It For High Beams" sign...
And collecting a t-shirt for completing the event. (For anyone who doesn't think that they could complete a 3-Day walk, they could always consider volunteering for the crew - which was critical for our journey and looked to be a lot less painful!)
Walkers received white shirts and those people who were breast cancer survivors, received pink shirts. What amazed me is to see all of the women I had been walking alongside for the past three days - all of those women who hoofed it twenty miles a day - and many of whom slept in tents - and showered in trucks - and climbed hills and endured blisters and pulled muscles - how many of them were wearing pink.
I heard that there was a 17-year old survivor on the course. And while I didn't see her, I was approached my a mother and daughter walking duo, that asked if I would mind taking their photograph at the Finish. "Of course not!" I said. But I had to swallow hard when I noticed that the daughter, no more than 25-years old, was the one wearing the pink shirt.
When I looked at my own pink shirted daughter, perched on her daddy's shoulders, I felt like all I could do is walk - and pray - that we find a cure, soon. Because my heart absolutely aches for any parent whose child faces a cancer diagnosis. I cannot and do not want to imagine it.
As we walked, arm in arm to our closing ceremonies, we passed a young woman who was in the midst of treatment, standing on the sidewalk watching our progression. As tears streamed down her cheeks and she mouthed "thank you", several of the walkers passed over to her, the long stem pink roses that we had received once we crossed the finish line. By the time we reached her, she had at least two dozen in her arms - with more and more coming.
The participants in this event arrived in to the closing ceremony in waves. The white t-shirts arrived first.The wonderful crew, medics and police officers arrived next. And then, the pink t-shirts who represented the breast cancer survivors, arrived last.
As the breast cancer survivors walked in to the ceremony, all of the walkers took off one of their shoes and held it up, as a show of support to them. For what they have been through and for what so many are still going through. It was - by far - the most inspiring and emotional moment of the entire event as hundreds of pink shirted walkers, went past us and we locked our teary eyes with women who were so grateful - and thankful - and hopeful.
Recently, I received an e-mail from the 3-Day Organization asking if I could provide my feedback on this event and what, if anything, I learned from my participation.
I learned that next year, we might want to rethink "Got Triplets?" on the backs of our shirts, because we were approached by more than one person who wanted to know if that meant we had three nipples? Uh ... no.
I learned that something as ugly as cancer can bring out beauty from everywhere.
I learned that the world would be a MUCH better place if there were more pink clad law officials and Harley riding bikers helping people stay safe.
I learned that each of my 'More the Merrier Walkers for Knockers' teammates were faced with their own set of challenges for participating in this event.
But everyone rose to the occasion. We met our fundraising minimums - and then we raised some more. We walked sixty miles. We left our four husbands alone for three days, with 14 small children including four sets of triplets.
I am so proud of the strong, beautiful women I had the privilege of walking beside.
I learned that early detection saves lives.
I learned from people who were walking, that blisters are a lot less painful than chemotherapy. I learned that everyone should experience an event like this at some point in their lives. And I learned that we can do anything we put our minds to because each one of us has incredible power and each one of us IS the cure.
Now, who wants to go with me for a 3-Day stroll in 2010?
(Or join our crew?)
OK. OK. Don't go too crazy.
One at a time...