They were right - without any doubt in my mind.
First and foremost, we walked with over 1900 of the most amazing people I think I have met in my life. We were crewed and tended to by over 500 volunteers who came out just to make sure that we, the walkers, were kept comfortable and healthy. I've never seen anything like it! Crew members up at the crack of dawn making us breakfast; medical staff tending to every blister, headache, ache and pain; and a security team made up of big guys on Harley's with pink mohawks and beards.
The one unfortunate piece of all of it was the extent of the blisters that I ended up getting due to the 90 degree heat for three days in a row. My feet are still in recovery! The heat made a lot of things unbearable for a lot of people - the blisters, heat stroke, dehydration, etc. We saw at least 7 ambulances take people away from camp because of how extensive the heat was. Those blisters also prevented me from doing the entire walk - I was only able to do about 45 miles in total. I know, I know, only 45 miles. But when you have a 78 year old man who is doing the walk with you, and beating you into camp every day, you realize exactly how humbling of an experience this is! However, crew members definitely made it a point to remind us that we already did what we came to do - raise the money, and bring awareness to the cause. The walking was just icing on the cake.
Downtown Plymouth - our new favorite city
The best and coolest part of the entire walk was the amount of people in the community that came out to support us. It was as simple as walking by a house on the route that had a sign up saying "Please Run Through Our Sprinklers" (something that was very much appreciated at high noon!). There were families that sat out in their front yards handing us cups of fruit and bottles of water. It seemed like the entire city of Plymouth came out to celebrate our walking through the downtown area - they had to put barricades up so we actually had room to walk! There was a woman (we called her the dancing lady) that comes out to the walk every year with a giant speaker and an iPod, and she just stands out there every day all day blasting her music for us along the route, dancing and singing. She's a 28-year survivor. And just the amount of people that came out to support us, telling us we're making a difference, holding signs that say "You Hold Our Hopes" - it's hard to hold it together even thinking about it now.
The Dancing Lady! Still there on Day 3
Looking back on the walk, it's hard to pick a moment that is really my favorite. It could be walking through downtown Plymouth, or the rainbow that came up over camp on Saturday night, or maybe all of the walkers raising our shoes to the breast cancer survivors that walked with us. But if I had to pick one, it would be walking into closing ceremony with Allen. Just him and I, walking through the field in front of Ford Headquarters, overhearing on the loudspeaker that we had finished. I wouldn't have made it the entire last day without Allen and his support. We laugh trying to think about it now, but it's hard to look back on the walk and remember every mile - mostly because I think we blocked most of it out! But we do remember snippets, snapshots, and flashing moments that I know will stay with us forever.
Rainbow over camp on Day 2
Raising our shoes to the survivors
Everyone keeps asking us if we're going to walk again next year. I can say with all honesty that we wouldn't be able to walk next year because of the wedding, but we will be out there supporting. This year's Michigan event alone raised over 5.4 million dollars toward breast cancer treatments, research and community outreach programs - but it still isn't enough until there's a cure. So yes, we will be financially supporting, but we will also physically go out and support those that choose to walk again. The people that came out and supported us on the walk are incredibly selfless and amazing, and we would like to give back what was given to us throughout the walk - inspiration.
The love of my life :)
Thanks again to everyone who followed and supported us on this amazing event - you guys are all incredible :)