The Philadelphia Susan G. Komen 3-Day® began against a beautiful pink sunrise at the Willow Grove Park Mall. As Dr. Sheri rallied the energetic crowd, excitement buzzed around as we prepared to embark on our 60-mile journey. In the midst of a touching and inspirational moment, a V-shaped formation of geese flew directly over the Opening Ceremony, honking loudly as the crowd burst into applause. (Some said it was an omen of good luck as the Walkers and Crew prepared for a rousing Day 1.)
Walkers enjoyed a cloud-covered sky and cool breezes to Pit Stop 1 and Pit Stop 2, decked out in awesome themes like Flashback to the 80s — complete with jelly bracelets and lots of neon. After snacks, stretching, bathroom breaks and hydration at the Pit Stops, it was on to the Chestnut Hill Cheering Station, which rallied on our walkers at Mile 9.7. The remainder of the day took walkers through Philly’s picturesque neighborhoods, including lunch at New Covenant Church, a winding walk through the lush, green Wassahickon Trail and Historic Rittenhouse, and then finally, to the Philadelphia Art Museum Steps, where walkers posed victoriously, with inspiration from a famous scene from Rocky. Walkers headed home toward camp at the Philadelphia Convention Center, where we congratulated our top fundraisers, and were inspired to take on Day 2 by Dr. Richard Bleicher from the Fox Chase Cancer Center and survivor Joanne Bidwell.
Day two started with a chill in the air, and walkers strolled to Memorial Hall at Mile 3.3, posing for photos in the striking Fairmount Park. A cheering station in Bala Cynwyd helped our 3-Day family set the tone for the day, complete with clusters of pink balloons, dogs in tutus, and candy and coffee stations to put a pep in everyone’s step. Then, it was on to the Haverford College Duck Pond, where ducks and geese floated serenely across the pond, and walkers stopped to have lunch on a grassy slope, a perfect break for tired feet. The community came out again to show their support at the Penn Wynne Elementary School Cheering Station, and in the early afternoon, liquid sunshine began pouring from the sky. Walkers donned ponchos and headed onward to Pit Stop 3 at Gompers Elementary School, still managing to smile despite the pouring rain. Walkers were greeted to another beautiful sight at Boathouse Row, just in time for the rain to stop as they completed 22.3 miles and arrived home to camp. Camp was cozy and dry, the perfect setting for a rallying show, complete with games from Bank of America, an introduction to the Youth Corps, a heartfelt speech from survivor Marieke Ertel, and a moving speech from series walker Melissa Provence. While rain may have dampened the route on Day 2, the overwhelming feeling of pride, hope, and love for Philadelphia could not be shaken.
Walkers began Day 3 against some cool temperatures, which lifted mid-morning to reveal a perfect day, complete with a stunning blue sky, occasional breezes, and the shining sun. At Mile 1.3, walkers posed at the oldest residential neighborhood in America, Elfreth’s Alley, dating to 1702. The historic sights continued past Independence Hall, which houses the Liberty Bell, and then the beautiful Philadelphia City Hall, three miles in.
Walkers powered through their fatigue with the uplifting chants of the Philly community in the Thomas Paine Plaza, and then it was onward to another Philly-centric photo opp – the dueling intersection with both Pat’s and Geno’s Steaks, two famous eateries applauded for their authentic cheese steaks. Some walkers stopped for a bite to fuel their last few miles, which brought them past Lincoln Field, and then finally, into the Closing Ceremony site at the Navy Yard. As our walkers and crew marched into the courtyard, the blue sky was in beautiful contrast to a sea of pink, and Dr. Sheri, Norm, and some of our series walkers reminded us of the amazing significance of the Philly 3-Day. As our walkers raised their shoes to the sky, we all smiled with tears in our eyes, so very proud and moved by the incredible contributions of the 1,350 Philadelphia walkers and 300 crew, who together raised over $3.8 million dollars toward the fight to end breast cancer forever. Philadelphia, thanks to you, we’re 60 miles closer toward a world without breast cancer. We will never give up!