Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This Year, I'll Cheer ...

Tomorrow, August arrives.

And with August, in Chicago, comes the 3-Day. And I am not walking this year.

I did not walk last year either, but that was by circumstance not by choice. I was registered, but I spent Day 1 in the hospital waiting room, waiting for my mom. (She's fine, thanks.) When I called to cancel my participation, the 3-Day coach suggested that I shift my registration to another city. But financially, that didn't make sense. It is not inexpensive to participate in a local 3-Day, but it gets downright pricey to walk in another city. Besides, these days, I really hate to travel. Logistically, not adventuresomely.

But this year is another story. This year, my non-participation was decided by Nancy Brinker. Right around the time I should have been registering for 2012, she decided to ruin Komen's reputation by not only defunding Planned Parenthood but by then lying about Komen's motivations in an attempt to quell the anger. The story unfolded over a few days, I wrote a few blog posts, and then I was done. With seven events behind me and many thousands of dollars raised, I was done.

Honestly, a small part of me is relieved. Finding a cure for breast cancer remains a noble cause, but having walked 7 events (x 60 miles per = 420 miles), most of the routes identical to the ones that came before, I had grown a bit weary of the walk. And then there's the Augustness of it all. Walking. 60 miles. In three days. In Chicago. In August.

Such an effort is nothing - nothing - compared to what a patient undergoing treatment goes through, but it's taxing in its own way. Which is why, I suppose, most people are not repeat walkers. Most participate to understand what the event is about or to experience what friends and family have experienced and most get to finish line and decide they're done. Repeat walkers are rare. But that also makes them all the more fun to see at events year after year. They become more than a bit like family.

So while I have no intention of ever supporting Komen again, I still support those who choose to walk. I made a contribution to a walker not toward her fundraising specifically (though she may well have filled out a donation form and sent in the check) but to apply toward any of her 3-Day needs: a second pair of shoes, socks, camp gear, whatever.

And this year, I want to cheer. Every year that I walked, I would encounter folks who would just pop up along the route, usually dressed in something obnoxiously pink, handing out ice or candy or trinkets, blaring dance music from their cars and trucks, giving walkers a boost between scheduled stops.

There are also official cheering stations designated by the event that provide intense infusions of resolve (and, if walkers are very lucky, frozen treats) that make for some of the most memorable moments of the event. It's a lovely bit of community, many people coming together for a day in a park or at another designated spot who set up chairs and coolers and settle in for a day of clapping and cheering as 2,000 walkers – give or take – pass by.

So that I'd like to do, to return the favor for all those who have shown such kindnesses to me.

I'll be the one nearly hoarse from cheering but not wearing something obnoxiously pink.

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