“I was terrified to walk alone,” said Christina at lunch on Day 1 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in Tampa Bay this year. “It wasn’t the 60 miles that worried me; it was the large teams that were very organized.” It’s true. The Komen 3-Day participants sometimes have large teams that sometimes incorporate scores of walkers and their coordinated outfits which can turn heads on the streets of any American city. “I heard Stephaney say she was alone walking, and I said: ‘Me too!'”
The two were handed pink balloons by an onlooker, so by lunch, I assumed they were walking together anyway. I was surprised to find out they started alone – and that it was their first time participating. Stephaney is walking for her mother who is now a 5-year survivor of breast cancer. “I saw a commercial on TV when I was getting ready for work earlier this year, and thought that I needed to celebrate my mother’s health!” Both Stephaney and Christina were raised in ‘military’ families, both Air Force, so they quickly realized they had a lot to talk about.
Christina’s mother is currently in treatment. “I loved the Opening Ceremony,” said Christina. “I tried not to cry.” The Tampa Bay 3-Day opened with a bang on Friday morning in Sand Park, and a glorious sunrise accented the booming cheers of the celebration. Christina was brought to the 3-Day by her father’s ‘shenanigans.’ She mentioned, “We always knew about the walk, but this year, my father expressed interest. He then only helped ME with the fundraising! I was in the top ten for fundraising!” Walkers have to raise $2300 to participate in the 60-mile walk, and most find creative strategies to fundraise. “We opened up donations from my father’s work, and they were more than generous.” By Day 3, they still had pink balloons, explaining that since the beginning, it had become their thing. One of the girl’s father went to a balloon shop to revive the symbol of their new ‘team.’ “The guy at the balloon shop just gave them to us, considering what we were doing!” the girls explained. They had written their mascots’ names on the balloons: ‘Wilson’ and ‘Henry Jr.’ (The movie reference from the Tom Hanks film was apparent, but evidently ‘Henry Jr’ is just a loving nickname.)
They are anticipating some strong family support today at Closing Ceremony in Tampa Bay. Congratulate Stephaney and Christina on their first time walks this weekend!