Over the past three days I walked 55 miles. Yeah, not 60. But that is OK with me. My feet still hurt. But it was amazing and I’m glad I did it! I might even do it again!
On Friday morning, my teammate Stacy and I met at the Willow Grove Mall, which is where the walk started. It was dark and cold out, but thank goodness not raining! (It poured on Thursday.) We were given the day off by our principal (so we didn’t have to use up any personal or sick days) and our classes were covered by fellow teachers who volunteered their time (i.e they didn’t “blue card” the time so our principal didn’t have to pay for coverage out of the building budget). Thanks, everyone who helped out!
At the opening ceremony, we got pumped up by the music and cheered on by the crew and volunteers, and Stacy and I were on TV as we walked past the TV cameras. That was really nice because Stacy’s kids got to see her on the news!
The first day took us through the northeastern suburbs before entering Philadelphia and arriving at Fairmount Park. We passed through Abington and Springfield (MontCo), walking through residential neighborhoods who had been warned ahead of time of our passage. There were families cheering for us from their porches; people offering water bottles, baked goods, and candy; homes decorated in pink—we felt great! In addition, there were designated “cheering zones” where families and friends had gathered, and there were volunteers who cheered at other places along the way. As we passed through Manayunk and were walking down “the wall” (bicyclists ride up it in the annual bike race), for example, we passed by our favorite cheer team, “high five,” “woo,” and “hooray.” Wearing matching green t-shirts and striped black-and-green socks, these three gave personal high fives (and high tens), woo!’s, and hoorays to EACH walker and kept us going! We walked past them twice each day, and they gave us something to look forward to as we approached the end of each day’s course.
We arrived at our original camping spot (Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park) at the ends of days 1 and 2 to be loaded on buses to our indoor (and therefore warmer) campsite: the Pennsylvania Convention Center. We camped on the ground floor and had meals on the upper floor. Thank goodness for escalators! Also thanks to the Temple University football team for carrying our baggage from the upper floor where it was stacked to the lower floor where we camped!
Breakfasts and dinners were served by women in costumes (bathrobes, fuzzy slippers, hair rollers at breakfast!) and when our hands were full of plates and cutlery, boy scouts and girl scouts carried our drinks to the table for us. Country singer Candy Coburn serenaded us (well, it was a lot louder than a serenade, I guess) and sang her song Pink Warrior, which is the theme song for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It makes me tear up, though I am not really a fan of her music. There were areas for medical help, for buying NewBalance or Susan G. Komen merchandise, getting a mechanical foot-and-back massage from Energizer, and signing up for the 2011 walk (I didn’t sign up…yet). Showers were provided in trucks parked out in back of the convention center. If you got to the showers at the right time, there was no line!
In the morning, there was no need for an alarm clock. The room we camped in started getting noisy before 5:30 am, though the buses didn’t leave until later to get us back to Fairmount Park, where we began walking on both Day 2 and Day 3. There was plenty of time for breakfast, and Stacy had the people at medical wrap her feet since her arches were bothering her.
On Day 2 we walked through the Main Line, passing through Narberth, Ardmore, Lower Merion, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Havertown. We were cheered on at Suburban Square and lunched by the duck pond at Haverford College. It was very familiar territory for me, as I have lived in both Narberth and Ardmore and I’ve driven on Lancaster Avenue and Montgomery Avenue more times than I can count!
Day 3 was all in the city, starting with the zoo! Very cool! We also walked right by our Convention Center “home” and by many tourist sites including City Hall, the National Constitution Center, Elfreth’s Alley, Headhouse Square (where the farmer’s market was in full swing), South Street, and Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s Steaks! We saw many of our fellow walkers stopping at the local eateries and pubs (including both Geno’s and Pat’s) and I have to admit Stacy and I did stop into a South Street bar for a beer! Some other walkers came in for shots while we were finishing our drinks. A slightly premature celebration, but we felt we deserved it!
We finally arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, to be greeted by hundreds of cheering families and of course “high five,” “woo,” and “hooray!” After walking through the throngs of people who had walked in before us and who had lined up to continue the high-five’s, we were given our victory shirts and long-stemmed roses. Wow. It was an amazing experience, and Philadelphia’s walkers raised $5.7 million for the cause. A Susan G. Komen official announced it, along with the fact that even in these tough financial times the foundation has been able to award over $59 million in research grants this year! Thank you to all of you who donated! You rock!
PS you can see the rest of my photos on flickr: