I never really understood the whole concept of walking or running for a cure for a disease. Frankly, it made little sense to me.
This weekend thousands of women of all ages and physical condition not only walked, but walked 60 miles! They have been in training for months. You can tell this is the only exercise some of these women ever get, while others look like they are used to strenuous work outs.
I don't care how much you work out - 60 miles in 3 days of 90 plus degree weather is crazy.
Like I said, I never really got it.
As I drove down the streets, I saw signs indicating this must be a route. "Remember to stretch 5 minutes for every 60 minutes you walk."
"Stay hydrated" All kinds of reminders of just how grueling this was.
I stopped to talk to some people lined up along the route. I listened as they cheered on the walkers. I watched them offer praise and encouragement as well as liquid and drying towels.
I took some pictures and was concerned I was getting too much sun in the few moments I was out there.
I went to one of their pit stops. Medical tents were set up. Places for food and beverages.
All the spots under the shade trees were filled with walkers, most of whom, despite layers of sun screen, where a bright shiny red.
There was even a truck saying "If you see this truck URINE luck". Oh My! I hadn't even considered the bathroom problems these walkers faced.
Shoes were coming off so bandages could be put on fresh blisters.
What were these people thinking?
So I asked them. They were simply walking for a cure. They wanted people to be aware of how many lives were affected by breast cancer and how education and early detection could make such a difference.
They walked for their mothers, their sisters, their grandmothers, aunts and friends. They walked for themselves.
When I left them another group was coming into the pit stop and again I heard the cheers and the encouragement. I heard cars passing by honking their horns and everyone was waiving.
They weren't suffering like I thought they would be. Sure, they were hot, sore and tired. But they were energized. They were on a mission.
They believed in what they were doing and wanted everyone to see Breast Cancer was not going to stop them in their tracks - they were going to fight it head on.
As I pulled away, I realized the car honking and the driver waving at these walkers was now me. I also realized that when they stood up and started walking again - they were walking for me.
And I finally got it and I am grateful.
Registration is open for the 2009 Walk. I know I will not participate, but I know thousands of women will. This time I'm going to do something besides take their pictures and write this story.
After all, it's the least I can do since they are walking 60 miles in the sun - for me.
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Cleveland 3-Day Walk 2009