First off, when I first started writing this, I figured it would be short and quick – though now that I read if over, it’s a lot longer than I thought and it only gives you a quick idea of what the past few days have meant to me.
Here’s the abridged version:
Thank you to everyone for your support and generous contributions to help Lauren, Michele and I raise over $6,000 for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer!!!
Here’s the unabridged version:
It’s been an interesting few days for me that have turned out to be much more rewarding then I ever imagined. Back in January, Lauren (my girlfriend) ran the idea past me of participating in the 40 Mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in NYC in the fall. I thought to myself that I love a challenge, so why not. And then she also happened to mention that we were going to need to raise $1800 each for the walk and if we didn’t receive that much in donations, then we would be on the hook for it.
Again I thought about it and questioned if we could raise that much. One of the biggest challenges would be that we shared a bunch of friends so it would make it even more of a challenge. I enjoy participating in a lot of events for charities and all of you regularly receive requests to help me raise money for them, though the worst part for me in participating in any of these events is asking you for a contribution – I truly hate having to hit you guys up!!! However a good Monmouth friend of mine put this into perspective one day and said that it doesn’t hurt to ask, and if someone chooses to donate, then the charity is better off.
So, back to the 40 Mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I figured if Lauren wanted to participate, then I’m going to support her and we would need to come up with a plan. At about the same time, my sister Michele who’s been interested in doing this event for years got on board and now we had our team – “Simply the Breast”. The first thing we did was put together a breast cancer awareness bar night and “Buy a Heart” campaign at Lauren’s local watering hole in Bayonne – The Rock. This was a spectacular night and everyone working at the Rock during the event was absolutely amazing with helping us raise enough money to take care of Lauren’s share.
The breast cancer awareness night at the Rock really gave us a shot in the arm letting us know that we could do this and it also showed how many people supported both us and the walk. Though, somehow the next few months slipped by and the next thing you know, it was the end of August and both Michele still needed to raise our portion to participate.
I dreaded this part, absolutely dreaded it!! Though, one by one I started sending a note out to you guys and it gave me a chance to say hello and see how you were doing. I actually started to enjoy reaching out to everyone and you guys in returned showed me amazing support. I really wasn’t expecting this type of supporting and again, I was charged up by hearing stories of how you’ve been affected or those you who had completed this walk or something similar. It truly showed me that I’m blessed to have such an amazing group of friends that truly encourage me to do great things!!
Before we knew it, now Michele and I had reached our goals and we were now on our way. It’s funny, the donation website suggest you send out mass emails and that it takes about 6 emails to get someone to donate. We instead took the approach that if you personally reach out to those you know, you’ll be surprised how willing they are to help you!! And not to mention some late night bar chats and bets about whether or not I could accomplish this and some added challenges still to come (yup, there will be another post about the fireman’s mile challenge I accepted for Tuesday!!!)
So, this past Friday, the three of us took a trip into NYC to register and now we knew there was no turning back. We came back to Jersey, had some yummy burgers at Z’s and then got a good night rest before our 4am departure back into the city on Saturday morning. Well, Lauren & I got a good sleep as Michele decided to stay up to watch the Yankee’s come back from behind and win the Friday night game!!
On Saturday morning we parked in Port Authority and lugged our bags down to the pier where the walk stared from. The walk had a beginning ceremony for all of the walkers where we were inspired by stories, performed some stretches and at 7am we started our walk.
To me, I figured this was going to be a breeze. We would walk a marathon (26.2 miles) on Saturday and then finish the rest on Sunday. In my mind it wasn’t going to be a challenge and we would enjoy the stroll through the city, stop at a few bars, enjoy the camping and give ourselves a pat on the back for raising our share of the almost 10 million dollars that had been raised by this NYC walk. Yup, you heard me right – 10 million dollars!!!
We started off as the sun was rising above the city and were enjoying the sites. We had a great pace going and we were passing people on a regular basis. We were doing so well that when we saw a sign thanking us for walking and also advertising a sangria special, we ducked in to enjoy some! The walk was easy and our muscles loved it! Along the way they had multiple stands set up for us to get drinks, food, medical attention and almost anything you could think of!! We even had cheering squads along the way they encouraged us to keep going and we had a motorcycle club at major intersections helping us cross to ensure we were safe! Life was good…..
We walked through the morning and into the afternoon with a smile. As we walked down Broadway we also happened to see the Broadway Bomb which consisted over hundreds of skateboarders who were racing down Broadway through the traffic to be the first to get to the bull at the end without being killed. Really, really cool….
Though, as we were approaching mile 18 or 19, I could certainly start to feel that maybe walking a marathon was a little more challenging than I thought. My quads were starting to burn and my body was certainly starting to feel it. As we got to the Brooklyn Bridge I had started to wonder how my body was going to react to the next 8 miles, though we kept moving along – though our pace had certainly slowed.
Now we were at mile 22, then 23 and I’m convinced that the miles started getting longer and longer and I was starting to struggle. How could this be??? It was only walking….
At about 23.5, we had the idea that we needed a beer stop so we snuck into a bar. None of us could sit down because we wouldn’t have been able to get back up. I had one of the best Oktoberfests ever – it was so cold and refreshing!!! After we finished up, I stumbled up the stairs because my legs were having trouble moving due to their exhaustion and we were back on course.
Now this is where I really started to doubt if my body could make it to Randell’s Island where we would be sleeping for the night. We walked along the water and I could see the bridge we had to cross in the distance, though my legs were know throbbing. Could I make it? We passed the last water/cheering stand and were on our way. It’s amazing how the cheers and smiles can encourage you to keep going.
In my mind I was thinking to myself what would happen if I had to get picked up by the sweeper shuttle to be brought to Randells Island. At first I was thinking of the abuse my fire department would put me thru for not finishing – that I could live with. What really kept me moving was thinking about what I was doing this for – Breast Cancer. I got to thinking about my friends who have gone through (or going through) cancer and what they have gone through. No matter what I was feeling at the moment, it didn’t even compare to what they had gone through. Not only could I do this, I would finish this!!
Now I was at the bridge to Randell’s Island and I think this might have been the most challenging part of the adventure. I struggled to walk up the ramp and as we started to cross the bridge, the “mooing” cheering squad encouraged us and gave me a bit of a back massage as I walked. We slowly made it over the bridge and we’re now at the final stretch for Saturday. The problem is the last mile seemed like it was never going to end!!! As we walked down the island there was yet another small bridge and then the end was in sight!!!
We finished the first day to more cheering and then into the Avon “Wellness Center”. Now I hobbled over to the truck to pick up our luggage and luckily the girl scouts were there to help us with our tents because I couldn’t even bend over at this time!!! After a quick nap and a hot shower, I was starting to feel good again and we worked our way to get dinner and enjoy the entertainment.
After a good night’s sleep (except for Lauren stealing the covers) we were up bright and early to take the tent down, have a yummy breakfast and be on our way!! My knee was hurting a bit, though the enthusiasm of completing this challenge was pushing me along! Sunday’s stroll seemed to be much more laid back and you could sense the walkers and crew were looking forward to the end and everyone was excited for the ending ceremony!
It was a beautiful day to enjoy the city and as we counted down the miles to the end, we were definitely getting charged up!! I was starting to slow down as my knee was asking why I decided to do this, though at mile 9 when we befriended the hula skirt team and I found out that they were stopping for beers at mile 10 – I had a new drive!!! We charged along and ended up passing them and after a bit of a bar finding challenge, found a fancy European Bistro and enjoyed a frosty Amstel Light. Wow, it was good…
Now we were on our way to complete the walk and as we enjoyed the last few miles, we were surrounded by so many fun teams of walkers!! The walk is such an amazing opportunity to meet new friends and be encouraged by those along the route that were there to cheer and encourage us!!! Side note, if you ever have the chance to cheer someone on in a marathon or a walk – get out and do it because this simple act goes such a long way!!!!
Finally, just before the last mile we stopped in the Boutique Eat Shop for some more frosty beverages and a Breast Cancer shot for good measure. We met some other walkers and had a great time in this fun little place. We had so much fun that we lost track of the time and ended up having to leave in a hurry with some to-go champagnes for the last mile. As we got back on the route we had the Caboose team letting us know we were some of the last walkers and we picked up our pace a bit to get alongside our friends who were also in the bar and we crossed the finish line to cheers and smiles!!! I’m not sure if it was because I looked so beat up from the two days of walking or if I was just lucky, though it was funny when a gentleman walked by with a bucket of beers and looked at me, reached into the bucket and handed me one to celebrate!!! I’m convinced it could have been a scene from the next Budweiser commercial!!
What an amazing event that brings people together for such an important cause and shows that you can make a difference by getting involved and active. During the closing ceremony we watched as we saw how much money was raised and watched them hand out grants to show that the money raised was being put directly to use in many local organizations!! We were reminded that breast cancer will affect 1 out of 8 females and every 3 minutes, there is a new diagnosis of invasive breast cancer. Worst yet, every 13 minutes, we lose someone to breast cancer and that’s why I have to thank you all again for your help and generous contributions to help fight this…..
This has certainly been a challenging adventure, though it was so rewarding that we’ve already decided to do it again in 2011 – Now we put you up to the challenge…Would you like to join us???