Dear Family and Friends,

After 3 months of preparing and gearing up for the big breast cancer walk, we raised over $2500.00 for the Avon foundation. Thank you so much. Your support was amazing and I was a witness to the living proof of how donations like yours save women’s lives. Your donations contributed to the $3.2 million Los Angeles participants raised alone. Because of you, numerous under-treated women will still be living next year at this time. However during the 33 hours I was participating in the walk, 670 women in America were diagnosed with breast cancer; and 145 women past away from the disease. The fight is nowhere near over.

My journey began at 4:30 am on Saturday, September 11, 2004 with my wake up call to get ready. By the time I reached the opening ceremonies, thousands were up and out at Santa Monica beach with the music blaring and everyone’s spirits rising. A sea of pink covered the beach parking lot. With a few safety instructions and a warm up stretch, we hit the road. We walked from Santa Monica beach along to Venice and up to Marina del Rey through hundreds of residential back and front yards. The walk took us over to Century City and though Beverly Hills to the La Brea Tar pits before heading home for the night in Culver City.
Every two or three miles, a rest or quick stop was set up and run by crew and volunteers. The crew was absolutely awesome. They had so much energy and kept us pumped up, hydrated, and safe throughout the whole walk. Each stop had its own theme, usually a Disney movie or the handy dandy Hawaii theme with all the treats, stickers, and music to accompany it. As we walked, a dozen ‘sweep’ vans watched over us, honking, and also blaring music to keep us right on track and to ‘sweep’ us up if we needed a break.

But it was during my first lunch break when I watched the woman next to me get diagnosed with cancer. Although it was just a symbolic diagnosis, everyone teared up who witnessed it. Every three minutes during the race, a walker or crew member was given a pink ribbon to signify another person in the United States being diagnosed with breast cancer at that very minute. By the end of the walk, every other person I walked by had a pink ribbon around their neck.

Although I registered for the event alone, there was never a minute where someone wasn’t asking me to join their group or keep them company until the next stop. Even if words were not spoken, the presence of these women next to me kept me going. Around mile 16 on the first day, after we had gotten lost… yes, they forget to post a sign telling us to turn, and myself and the other 4 women in the very front pack, headed a mile in the wrong direction before being redirected back to the course… a women 40 years my senior, who was participating in her 6th walk, was encouraging me to keep on track and pushing forward. As the first day came to a close, it was huge sense of relief to finally stop walking after 7 hours. At first all I could think about is how much my legs and back hurt. Then again all of my hurting could never possibly add up to the pain that thousands of women go through who are fighting breast cancer and all the pain families go through after they lose their mother, daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother, niece, or cousin to the disease.

I knew day two would be a bigger challenge then the day before. As we left camp the next morning we saw everyone’s limp, wrapped knee, or blistered covered feet. Yet we could hear no one complaining -only fun stories and singing voices. After the first rest stop, I was walking with a group where one of the women appeared to have just had knee surgery. At every intersection where crew worked, they would ask her if she needed help or needed to be picked up by a ‘sweep’ van. But she wouldn’t stop until she crossed the finish line on her own. The people who were drawn to participate and volunteer at this event were an inspiration themselves. The oldest walker was 82 years old and some even came and participated in wheel chairs.

The two days of the walk were a journey in itself emotionally and physically. I met dozens of women helping out the cause and those surviving it. Every step, ache, and pain was worth it once I reached the finish line and closing ceremonies and saw all the light pink shirts representing the breast cancer survivors at the event. As I walked to my car after the closing ceremonies to get home and rest, I had only one thought in my head: where do I sign up to volunteer next year?

Thank you once again. Your support made my experience and contribution to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer a huge success!!!!

Love =)

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