Why I Walk: How Mark S.’s 3-Day Training Supported His Health Journey

“I know that there are probably very few others on the 3-Day who will understand my excitement to finish 60 miles while battling my illness. I know there are many others who are battling other challenges like mine.”

The 3-Day is an amazing accomplishment for anyone who participates. The fundraising, training, and walk weekend itself push many people out of their comfort zone. Mark S. knew he would be one of those people when he decided to join the Philadelphia 3-Day this year. But Mark also knew that getting out of his comfort zone would be a very good thing!

He was diagnosed with MdDS, Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, in 2016, and has been experiencing a variety of health issues since then.

That, combined with weight gain over the last few decades due to a variety of reasons, led Mark to need — and want! — to make a change in his physical fitness.

“I read that walking helps reduce MdDS symptoms. I had tried walking for exercise many times to try and lose weight before MdDS, so walking seemed like a good option for me. When I first started walking, my limit was ¾ of a mile in 20 minutes. It took another 20 minutes after the walk for my MdDS symptoms to decrease to their “normal” levels. After all my training, I now walk 3 miles in 45 minutes during my lunch break, and the time it takes for my MdDS symptoms to recover from my walks is substantially shorter.”

While he was working on his fitness, Mark decided to join the 3-Day to really jumpstart his progress.

“Walking 60 miles for breast cancer research seemed like the perfect match for my goals. There is no way I could have undertaken this challenge when I was at my heaviest; I could not even manage to walk an entire mile! I imagine the depression, anxiety, and helplessness I often experience with MdDS are some of the same emotions someone has to conquer as they fight breast cancer. But we can all do this!”

Mark began participating in 3-Day training walks, as well as extending his own personal walks. That, combined with healthier eating habits, helped him lose more than 100 pounds!

All of that work culminated in October, when Mark began his first 3-Day in Philadelphia. We caught up with him after he crossed the finish line with a big smile on his face, and he told us how much those 60 miles had meant to him…

The 3-Day weekend was an amazing experience! It was emotional for me personally at the start and of course at the finish. Here I was, challenged to walk even one mile for exercise in early 2018, yet starting a 60-mile journey in October 2019. I never thought I would be at this point where walking this much would be part of my regular daily schedule.

During the walk, it was incredible to talk to others. I met a man who was married for almost 50 years before his wife lost her battle. There was a young mother who just recently finished her final treatment who was walking with her mother. I passed a woman who just had knee surgery four weeks prior but was giving the journey her best. There was a man in an orthopedic boot determined to participate in all 3-Day events this year. The stores were inspiring and will stick with me forever.

I also can’t forget about the Crew! The kids in Youth Corps who truly get what it means to serve others. The people who take the time to decorate the inside of a port-a-potty (I even had to take a picture of the inside of one!). The Safety Crew who made sure walkers were safe. There were so many people giving of their time to make these three days possible!

My walking journey is not finished!

We love seeing walkers like Mark accomplish new goals and reach new heights on the 3-Day and we’re honored to be a part of their wellness journeys.