Friday morning, pink globes of light shone in the dark, illuminating a site where hundreds of people who have been touched by breast cancer began to gather. At Collin Creek Mall in Plano, as the sun rose in the sky, we heard touching stories from Honor Speakers, watched in admiration as survivors raised our flag, and were reminded by 3-Day Specialist Amber Livingston and Dr. Sheri Prentiss why our footsteps hold so much promise.
Then, as the music pumped, we began our march towards a world without breast cancer. Our first Pit Stop was Mardis Bra themed, and as festooned crew handed out shiny beads, we stretched, munched on grahamwiches, filled up on sports drink, and then stopped for a quick play on the nearby playground. Just a few steps out of Pit Stop 1 were hundreds of children from Aldridge Elementary, lining the sidewalk eagerly giving out high fives and words of enthusiasm.
Cheering stations lined the sidewalks at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Richardson, Texas, and then, at mile 7.3, the bridge at Cottonwood Park served as the perfect backdrop for selfies.
The stride continued to our lunch stop and then Anderson Bonner Park, where we wrapped up the day with more photo opps with the fun, metal people at Churchill Park. Brookhaven College became our home away from home for the night, and this Farmer’s Branch campus was a sight in pink. After we welcomed in our last walker, we had a rollicking camp show, complete with a hilarious game from Bank of America, and a speech by Dr. Weibo Luo, who shared his personal reasons for being a breast cancer warrior. After that, we bundled up in our cozy pink tents, laying tired heads on pillows in preparation for an amazing day two.
The energy was contagious on the brisk morning of Day 2, and after stopping by Mardis Bra again at Pit Stop 1, we headed to Pit Stop 2, which was ‘Wizard of Bras’ complete with a rest spot with a miniature tornado, flying monkey, and wicked witch.
Cheering stations including Park Hill Junior High School and the 3-Day cheer corps lined the blocks of the city, waving pom poms as we paraded by. Our lunch spot was the Wild West at 10 miles, and walkers feasted on sandwiches and salads, powering up for what lay ahead including puppies! Just shortly after of our lunch spot were the Guide Dogs of America, with yellow labs and black labs in training eagerly awaiting pets from excited walkers. After seeing puppies, it was onward to Pit Stops 3 and 4 (with some Grab and Go’s in between), at the scenic Vitruvian Park (mile 18.7), leading into the Survivor Stretch, and then through a tunnel of Team Komen volunteers, all in matching pink and handing out goodies.
From this amazingly uplifting stretch of the route, it was into the closing miles for Day 2, with a drum corps beating cadence into the sky. We welcomed our last walkers against a beautiful blue and yellow sunset, celebrating being one day closer to the end of breast cancer. Then, we heard from Catherine Olivieri, VP of Human Resources at Susan G. Komen, who shared with us the reason that she works with Komen, after losing her own mother, a breast cancer survivor, three years ago. We then celebrated our top fundraising award winners and milestone and local impact award winner. The spirit of 150 3-Day celebrations was filled with joy, as crew passed out cupcakes, sparkling juice, and special 150th gifts. Family and friends lined the perimeters of the tent, and whoops of joy filled the air as we clapped and clapped and clapped, finally ending our night with an exuberant dance party kicked off by Youth Corps. Then, we went back to our pink tent city, laying our heads on our pillows, dreaming of a day we can say, the world is free forever from breast cancer.
Sunday began with a quick bus ride from camp at Brookhaven College to Curtis Park. We were impressed by the cheerful smiles on walkers’ faces, even though feet and legs were feeling pretty sore. Our Pit Stops had cold, freshly brewed sports drink and a smorgasbord of snacks, from fresh bananas and oranges to the ever popular grahamwich.
At miles 8-10, the stunning neighborhoods of the historic West End kept our eyes busy, especially as some houses paid special tribute to our walkers with elaborate decorations.
Around 13 miles, we walked by a momentously historic location, the spot where John F. Kennedy was assassinated. We walked through the Kennedy memorial at the Grassy Knoll on to the Mobil Red Pegasus, and a scenic park where bull statues are crashing through the park, stopping to take plenty of photos.
Our day ended with us walking through Fair Park and at the Cotton Bowl, where the gray skies broke slightly to reveal patches of light. In our emotional Closing Ceremony, as survivors raised their hands together, and walkers and crew dried their eyes, Dr. Sheri and Amber shared that we raised more than $2.4 million. This was all thanks to the tireless fundraising and support from our 900 walkers and 300 crew.
Dallas/Fort Worth, they say everything is bigger in Texas, and the passion we saw for ending breast cancer forever proved it. As walkers, crew, and spectators streamed out of Fair Park, a triple rainbow arched from our stage to the sky, saying in perfect harmony that the world knows that together we are now 60 miles closer to ending breast cancer forever.