Not Survive, But Thrive: Washington, D.C. 3-Day

To say that it rained on Day 1 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in Washington, D.C. this last weekend would not be doing it justice. For 1,000 walkers and over 300 crew members who braved the elements (with rain really coming down just as the Opening Ceremony started), Friday was another defining feat in the lives of those who walk to find an end to breast cancer. From the Westfield Wheaton Mall where an inspirational tribute was given to breast cancer survivors to a lunch stop which gave time to change into dry socks, participants showed the resolve that I heard so many times over the weekend: “Well, it’s nothing like chemo!”

The 20.9-mile Day 1 traveled through Wheaton, Silver Springs, Chevy Chase, Bethesda and finally Washington, D.C. The old adage, “These are Komen miles” was particularly poignant as some walkers veered off course, adding more mileage and likely just trying to show how tough they really were! I admired many solo walkers (those who came without family or friends) who were pushing on alone, but constantly meeting new people. And who doesn’t feel loved when they encounter the themed Pit Stops and lunch crew along the way? Everything from the Western-styled cowboys and cowgirls of Pit Stop 3 to the Hawaiian luau theme of Pit Stop 2 delights a weary 60-mile walker.

The walkers ended the day at the Washington, D.C. Armory and were treated to a little relaxation while drying out from the day. John Shinar, walking all fourteen events, was recognized along with the top fundraisers. Ron R, a breast cancer survivor, gave the inspirational speech of the night, laced with his humorous personal style.

The 17-mile route on Day 2 remained mostly dry and walkers took advantage of it by quickening their pace. “I’m moving in case it rains later!” quipped one walker as she cruised by me in Pit Stop 3.  A special treat of the day was the “Pink Firefighter” at water’s edge. Having lost so many loved ones to breast cancer, he stood in remembrance in full pink firefighting regalia, with a fireboat blasting at full throttle just off shore. The sign in front read “John Glenn, Jr. and the crew honor all angels lost. Their flame will never be extinguished.” That night, inspirational speeches from Kimberley B, a co-survivor, and Lindsay R, a young survivor energized the audience of walkers and crew. Hearing from the Youth Corps gave everyone a renewed hope to fight, as their stories of why they became involved touched everyone deeply.

Sunday’s course of 16.9 miles started with a bang as an impressive amount of walkers were chomping at the bit to hit the streets as the route opened. Spirits were high as the group made its way around Washington, D.C. The streets were busy on Sunday, and the pink flags that the walkers carried turned heads as they crossed busy streets and moved through popular destination areas. The private cheering groups along the last few miles were a real bonus! One chalk drawing read, “59 miles” and parked cars with family and friends gave a last, supportive cheer. The emotional finish line and Closing Ceremony gave us all a time to reflect on our loved ones and the reasons we continue to help find a cure. After the Survivors’ Circle raised the flag of hope, the Washington, D.C. 3-Day walkers, crew, volunteers, and family and friends danced to “We Are Family!”

Thank you all for thriving on this Washington, D.C. 3-Day!

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