60 miles, 3 days... I did that!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are so proud of Denise Deitchman, JF&CS Manager of Volunteer Development who participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure the weekend of October 21-23. These are her reflections on why she walked 60 miles for a cure.
I decided to walk the Susan G Komen 3-Day for a Cure in 2006 because it was always something on my bucket list. I thought it would be a great physical challenge, as well as inspirational, and I signed up with a few friends to do the walk. At the time, breast cancer didn’t really affect me personally, but I still wanted to help the cause.
The experience exceeded every expectation I had, and upon completion I promised that I would walk again. Well, 2011 was the year, and I just completed my second 3-day walk. This time, my friend and I joined a larger team that is in its 5th year, and our fundraising efforts helped Angels 4 Angels reach a goal of over $1 million raised towards finding a cure - incredible! This team was started 5 years ago in memory of a few very special women in Atlanta, and I was honored to be a part of that.
This time, my reason for walking was different. This time I am a mom. This time my best friend’s mother is a survivor. I made the decision to walk again because I wanted to be part of the solution. I literally felt compelled to walk again, and I was excited to have friends both old and new share with me in this journey. I know what it feels like to lose my mother at a young age, and I do not want that to happen to other families. I want my children to grow up in a world without cancer.
Opening ceremonies were at Stone Mountain, and as the sun finally rose on an unseasonably chilly October morning, the excitement among the 2400 Atlanta walkers was infectious. My team was ready, as our captain says, “To get this party started.” And we walked, and walked and walked- 20 miles each day all throughout Atlanta. This was an incredible walking tour of the city – through many beautiful in-town neighborhoods, passing some of Atlanta’s most historical sites. I never realized just how hilly Atlanta was! Our home away from home during the walk was the Georgia World Congress Center, where we camped on the floor in colorful pink tents! Logistically, the decision was made to move the 3-day camping experience indoors because of inclement weather in previous years. For this we were thankful because the nights were cold!
There was a consistent, special energy that could be felt – almost seen through-out the 3-days. Women of all ages, races, and backgrounds, as well as several men, all had a common goal: to contribute to something larger then themselves. To fight. To help find a cure for breast cancer. It is incredible to walk alongside a stranger and, after only a few minutes, know that your lives would forever be impacted by each other. I remember walking up hill towards Freedom Park and meeting a woman from Tennessee. This was her 3rd walk this year, and she was fighting for her mom. I laughed out loud at a comment she made, and we kept talking the rest of the way. To hear what her family had experienced brought me to tears and inspired me to keep walking.
On Day-2 my family came to visit me at the morning pit-stop. When I saw them, my eyes filled with tears, and I went running towards them. I missed them even though it had only been 36 hours since I had seen them. I knew they were proud of me. I hugged my daughter so tightly, and when it was time to go she said, “Don’t leave yet mommy.” I looked at her and said, “When you’re a big girl, you’ll walk with me.”