Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Part 1

The 2009 Washington DC Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is over and now it’s time to let everything settle in and reflect on the weekend. As always, the event is an amazing gathering of several thousand folks – all working hard for a single purpose – to fight breast cancer. And as always, it’s very difficult to put the emotions of the weekend into words.

This was my 10th major Breast Cancer event since 2001. Each one has its own character and energy. It’s a weave of threads of various shapes, sizes, colors that all blend together to create an amazing tapestry of smiles, tears, sadness and triumph!

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

For me, the journey began last June, a few weeks after the 2008 Avon DC walk ended. I made the decision to walk again, signed up and quickly began my fundraising and awareness drive. I really hope that my efforts help make people more aware of breast cancer and the fact that it can strike anywhere at any time – and not just women. I saw a couple women walking for their husbands!

This year, in addition to my wonderful teammates, the Seneca Sisters, a friend from NY was coming to town to walk the event. Mary Newell is a 3 year survivor. If her name sounds familiar to some of you, she is Mike Newell’s wife (Mike of the WDWToday podcast and MouseWorldRadio). Mike and Mary have visited the last 2 years and cheered all the walkers on. I did my best to talk her into Walking this year — I think she’s glad she did!

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

From the moment one arrives at Event Eve, a transportation of spirit takes place. Suddenly you have thousands of strangers who have become your friends and support for the next 2 days. People you have never seen before and may never again will smile at you and offer words of encouragement, support and understanding. There is a huge buzz of activity: people checking in, last minute fund raising, turning in donations and much more.

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

During the Event Eve activities I scurried around looking for friends from previous years. Plus, I had several things to accomplish!

I had additional donations to turn in! Another $700!!!!

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

I received my Avon Breast Cancer Fundraising Ribbon for raising over $5,000!

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

And I needed to sign up for 2010!

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

Friends, who I see every May, walk quickly towards me as I walk quickly towards them to hug in support of the fight that brings us together.

Barbara Jo Kirshbaum is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She began doing the Breast Cancer events in the year 2000, when they began. She knew no one who had been touched by breast cancer. Since that time, she has walked in every single Avon and Komen weekend events (over 100 now!) and has raised over ONE MILLION DOLLARS for the cause. She is one of my heroes and someone provides inspiration to me as I continue my fundraising efforts. Visit her website!
2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

Here I am hugging Seneca Sister Team Captain Helene Block. This woman has led the Seneca Sisters since 2000! She has amazing energy and a great spirit. She is another one of my Breast Cancer heroes!

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

I was so happy to see Allison on Friday afternoon. We walked into the Closing Ceremony together in 2008. I almost didn’t recognize her because last year, she walked during her treatments and was bald. I’ve thought of her often during this past year – hoping all was well. Indeed – she is doing fantastic and it was a very happy reunion.

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

The walk is much different than training. Most of the time the pace is much slower since you are bunched up with hundreds of folks, walking thru residential area sidewalks or near main highways. But that also gives you time to get to know the people around you and hear a bit of their story.

Saturday was a very cloudy day. Fortunately for all of us, only a few brief sprinkles of rain.

Some photos from Opening Ceremony:

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

There are around 30 of us on the Seneca Sisters Team. Here are the 4 Breast Cancer Survivors: Hetty, myself, Elaine and Thuy.

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

I wore 2 signs this year which got lots of attention and enabled me to meet many new folks. On the first sign, I had the names of all your loved ones that you sent to me.

The other had the number of folks who generously supported my walk and the total raised and my years of survivorship! Many many (over 800) folks donated to my walk and most of the donations were $5 – $25. I think it is quite powerful that together we CAN and DO make a difference!!!!

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

When I got to the first Rest stop I was pleasantly shocked to find a Porta-John with my name on it LOL! Names of all the top fundraisers had their own place of honor 🙂 It gave me a huge huge smile!

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

Proud Mike smiles at his wife Mary, who just completed 26 miles on Saturday!

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

Carol is a long time walker buddy from the Needwood Solemate days!

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

Finishing up the day!

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

2009 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington DC

Part 2 of this blog will share stories of our rain-filled Sunday!

Part 3 has final thoughts, reflections, and an announcement!

13 Replies to “Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Part 1”

  1. Deb – you inspire me to keep walking and keep believing!
    I am so glad that I met you in DC and hope to share the road with you again in the future.
    Best Wishes,
    Teresa Robert

  2. Hi Deb,

    I am in the third photo leaning over to help someone next to the guy in the baseball cap.

    Again, thanks for walking for the cause and I hope to recognize you next year when I volunteer.

    Are you a walker for the Race for the Cure? I am.

    Deb: I have done Race for the Cure in the past, but won’t be participating this year. I hope you have an awesome event!

  3. Hello Deb,

    While viewing your website which I do often, I noticed that you participated in the Avon Walk. I was curious to see your photos and happened to stumble across a picture of me on Event eve. I was a volunteer for that night and it was my first time volunteering and I absolutely loved it.

    Thanks for walking.

    Hi Nina – how awesome. Thank you for volunteering. Which photo are you in?

  4. Deb,
    Thank you for sharing your story! I have just reconnected with my best friend from college after 12 years. When we did, she told me that she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31 and lost one of her breasts. Immediately, I thought of you and the Walk. We’re currently talking about creating a team and walking in Philadelphia. Ironically, also at age 31 I found a lump which turned out to be benign.
    Any tips would be appreciated! I really admire your courage and the wonderful fund raising you are able to do.

  5. YEAH! I preparing for my own Avon walk on June 6 & 7 in Chicago. Thanks for sharing your story and giving me something to think about as I walk the 26 miles on Saturday and the 13 on Sunday!

    Thank you for sharing awareness and your story.

  6. Your updates always bring tears to my eyes but this time I laughed too when I saw your personal throne 🙂

  7. Deb, Thanks for posting pictures of the opening ceremonies. I was on the crew for Rest Stop 3, so we go right to our site and miss the ceremonies. It was great to get a glimpse of what we missed. Looking forward to your tales of Sunday. What a day!!

  8. Thank you Deb for carrying my mother’s name with you..Earlene Gallo, who passed away Aug. 25, 1993 at age 51, when I was 22 years old. Your strength is an inspiration!
    jeanie

  9. Deb, I’m touched that you remember my twin sister, Allison. She talked about her experience with you at the closing ceremonies last year. She showed me the pics of you and her and I thought they were great. Then after I walked the NYC walk with my team, “Allison’s Breast Friends”, we were looking at some literature and noticed pictures of you and Allison littered all over the Avon booklets! (needless to say we screamed!) So, its funny; I look at my sister in those pictures and automatically think of her good-friend Deb next to her.

  10. I found your blog through a google search. I think we may have met at the walk in the Spaaahh Zone. Anyway, great pics (especially the porta-potty!) Last weekend was an amazing experience and I definitely plan to be a part of it next year. Great job with the fundraising!

  11. Hey Deb! Congratulations once again on your amazing accomplishment. We thought about you often over the weekend. In a few photos, you appear to be carrying some sort of white banner with pink writing, but none of the pics show the whole thing. What does it say?

  12. Deb, I am honored to have earned a place in your blog! I have thought of you throughout the year as well, and hoped that you were doing ok. Especially when I saw our picture popping up in Avon publications! I’ll be walking again this year, in NY in October. I’ll be thinking of you as we hit the streets. Viva la Avon Walk!!!

  13. I’ve thought you deserved special recognition for your tremendous fundraising success, but your name on a porta-potty door is more wonderful than anything else I can imagine. Congrats!

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