Thursday, August 04, 2011

Breaking My Stride ...

I should be asleep.

I should be asleep in the Renaissance in Northbrook.

I should be expecting a wake-up call at 4 a.m.

Because that is what I've done every year right around this time of year the past six years. I've walked that many 3-Days in a row.

My first event was in Atlanta, in 2001, three weeks after September 11th.

And then I didn't walk again until 2005. I had met an amazing woman in 2004, confined to a wheelchair since she was 11 years old, and I vowed to walk every year for the simple reason that I am able to walk.

So I did.

In 2005, I met Catherine.

In 2006, I met Erin and Shel and Mike.

In 2007, I met Jen and Tina and a whole gaggle of gals who adopted me as part of their team.

In 2008, I met Amy, who became my "Aimes."

In 2009, I met Rhonda, Amy's friend who wanted to experience the event for herself. And I wore the Cubs hat given to me by the family of L.A. Dave.

In 2010, I met Michael and his wife, Monica, forces of nature both.

I saw Barry in event after event. He sprays his beard pink. He is hard to miss. And he is very dear.

This year, I will not walk. And I will miss it.

I signed up with all the usual and best intentions.

But fundraising and circumstances didn't gel. And I don't believe in coincidence, and something very important arose that I need to attend to tomorrow, so not walking makes sense.

And while I will miss the event and the friends I've made and the energy and the laughter and the tears, perhaps it is best to recharge, to get truly excited to do it again.

A friend's sister has been diagnosed. She is 37. Next week, she will have a double mastectomy. My friend wants to walk next year, for her.

So we will walk together.

And I will be able to see the event through his eyes, experience it as someone else experiences it for the first time.

And he will have a friend to hand him Kleenex at opportune times, not that any walker wouldn't do the same.

And he will have someone to hug, along the way and when he takes his final step, 60 miles from where he started, but so much more.

I've said over and over that the 3-Day will change your life. And it will. It does.

So I'm excited for all those men and women who are trying to sleep tonight, who are unaccustomed to going to bed at this hour and who are nervous for what tomorrow holds.

And I'm a little sad not to join them.

But Paul, one of my contributors this year, suggested that since I won't be walking this weekend, I should bake something in the shape of a heart instead.

I have no idea where that idea came from, but I love it.

And so I shall. In honor of those we've lost and in honor of those who fight and in honor of those who love all those men and women, I shall bake something in the shape of a heart.

And then I will go for a walk.

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