Oct 2 2018
This past Thursday I was dropped off at the airport at about 4:30 in the morning to catch a flight to Philadelphia for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. I was really looking forward to this since I had not been able to walk for the last three years due to some health and work issues. That was not going to be an issue this year. I had turned off my work phone at noon on Wednesday and had no intention of turning it on again before Tuesday when I went back to work. This would also be a new experience for me since I was traveling fairly light for the 3-Day. This year in Philly they were going to trial having camp hosted at a Hotel instead of the traditional camp so I didn’t need many of the things I would take if we were camping outside. My suitcase and I made it through security quickly and then I had to wait for my flight.
Once I arrived in Philly I had to make my way from one terminal to another to wait for a couple of my teammates that would be arriving soon after I did. We were going to share a cab over to the host hotel. Before long we were all over at the Hilton at Penn’s Landing and were checking out the setup. There was a steady stream of walkers arriving all afternoon. The Hilton had done a nice job of getting the place ready for all the walkers. The staff was friendly and welcoming and there was pink everywhere. We went out to lunch with another walker that we were talking to in the Lobby as we had plenty of time to kill before we had to be anywhere. It was good to have time to catch up a bit and talk to other walkers to see what they thought of the setup and what to expect as I had not walked in Philly before. Before I knew it, it was time to get some sleep. 5:00 would come way to early.
Our team gathered at about 6:00 on Friday morning to take a couple pictures and get ready for the day. We started the day with four members of the team. Our fifth member Lisa would not be joining us until around dinner time as she had some work obligations for Friday but still was going to walk with us on Saturday and Sunday. We lined up outside and skipped the opening Ceremony to get out on the route a little earlier. The route opened at 7:30 and we were out right away. Normally our team ends up walking in at least two different groups for much of the day. Our Captain, Kathy, and Stephanie like to walk a little faster than I normally do so they end up ahead of me most of the time. When I walked in Tampa, Marcia was new to our team and I walked with her that year since she has a pace that’s closer to mine. Sometime on Friday afternoon Marcia and I met a woman named Megan who was walking by her self and she joined us for the afternoon and ended up joining the team for the rest of the weekend. Megan had done a couple of the Avon walks but had never done the 3-Day before. She enjoyed the weekend enough that she has already signed up for next year.
Once we got back to camp for the day we took our traditional end of day picture and I had to grab my gear and check into my room for the weekend. I did not get assigned a room at the Camp Hotel. I was in a different hotel about a block away. It was an easy walk even after walking 20 miles. Once I had checked into my room and cleaned up I went back to Camp to relax before dinner. Bank of America had brought it a bunch of massage chairs and I spent a little time in them and it felt great. We spent some time during dinner talking about the day and I heard that the route for the day was quite a bit different than previous years. That was good to hear since I was not all that impressed by the Day 1 route. It took us through some rather sketchy areas of Philly.
Day two started much the same as Day 1 but just a little bit earlier. The route opened at 7:00 so the team met at 5:45 for breakfast and to get ready for the day. One of the attractions on Saturday morning was walking by the Art Museum and getting pictures taken with the Rocky statue. Marcia had even brought along some pink boxing gloves for her picture. After she and Megan had taken pictures with them she decided to leave them there so that other walkers could take pictures with them as well. Once we left there we ended up walking along a river for quite some time and I was surprised at how many people were out rowing on the river. Crew must be pretty popular there since I saw quite a few different teams out practicing. We ended up crossing the river and walking along a nice trail to get to lunch. After lunch we walked through the Zoo on our way back to camp. Quite a few people stopped to take pictures in the zoo sign as our team did. That was one of my favorite pictures of the weekend. The trip through the zoo was fairly quick. We had a straight line path setup to follow and really didn’t get to see much of it. I think the highlight of the zoo for most of my team was having a place to stop and buy a diet coke 🙂 . Once we were back at camp we got cleaned up and had dinner and got ready for the camp show. One of the highlights of the show is when the youth corps gets to get up and tell why they wanted to be part of youth corps. Stephanie’s son Blake was on youth corps but I didn’t stay for the show as I was really dragging. I had gone to Medical before dinner to get a couple blisters drained and was really tired as I was not sleeping great in the Hotel. Medical was setup very well. They had a podiatrist and some of his third year students there to get experience dealing with blisters and foot issues. They did a great job taking care of my feet.
Day 3 started early again but this was a strange Day 3 since we were staying in a Hotel and didn’t have to get up extra early to pack our tents. I had to go back up to Medical to get some things to wrap my blisters for the day after breakfast. I ended up wearing my backup shoes for Day 3. I had forgotten how much my feet swell after walking for long distances and my newer shoes were just too tight. At one of the pit stops before lunch I borrowed some scissors from Medical so that I could cut out part of shoe to take some of the pressure of my little toe. It still looks pretty ugly today. We were making some pretty good time on Sunday and we ended up being in the top 100 into lunch. We were not in a huge hurry to leave lunch though since we less than 4 miles after lunch till we got to holding. On our way to holding we walked past the Philly sports complex. It’s actually a pretty cool setup. All of the homes for their major sports teams are clustered together and within walking distance of each other. I know that I have to be careful when I say that because my idea of walking distance does not match normal people’s idea of walking distance. As we got closer to holding at the Navy Yard the Philadelphia Eagles Drum line was there to greet us. Got to love some percussion to keep you going. We arrived at closing early and had some time to kill. After a couple pictures at the finish we had to say goodbye to a couple of our teammates. Lisa had to leave right away to catch an early flight out that night. She had been traveling for work and needed to get home. Megan got to spend a little time with us at closing before her ride but she had to leave early as she was going to spend some time with her niece for a special birthday. Kathy was a little bummed about being in Philly for this day as well. She is very dedicated to the 3-Day and fighting Cancer but her son was finishing up a 4 Day 500 Mile ride today to raise money for Scholarships in the names of Illinois National Guard Members who lost their lives in service our nation. It’s a ride called the Gold Star 500 and she is very proud of her son’s dedication to this cause. I think I know where he gets that dedication from.
The time before closing didn’t take quite as long as I thought it would. We spent time discussing the weekend and what we thought Komen needs to do to breath life back into the 3-Day. The 3-Day is a special event and we really want to see it growing again. After closing ceremonies it was back to the Hotel for a little dinner and rest before calling it a night. The team members that were still there on Monday morning got together for breakfast one last time before Stephanie and Blake had to head for the Airport. They had an earlier flight than the rest of us. Kathy, Marcia, and I were back at the Airport for our flights soon after. It didn’t take long to get through security so I had a lot of time to kill. Our plane ended up taking off about 20 minutes late because we couldn’t push back from the gate on time because a fuel truck lost a week directly behind the plane and we had to wait for them to fix that. It was a pretty uneventful flight back after that. I had a great time but was really glad to be home.
All in all the weekend was a huge success. The Walkers and Crew for Philadelphia had raised $2.1 Million Dollars. I have mixed feelings about the Hotel experiment this weekend. I like the fact that I didn’t have to sleep in a tent this weekend. I have had issues with my Asthma in the past and tents don’t exactly help that. I also know that knowing that you won’t be staying in a tent may attract new or return walkers. I do think that some of the community is lost with this kind of camp though. According to some people I talked to the cost of the traditional camp and this setup was about the same with the Hotel as one of the sponsors so with all things being equal I think that this would probably attract more people. I was also really happy that I was able to finish the entire route this year. This was my ninth walk and the fifth that I had completed the entire route. In the four that I didn’t complete sometimes it was just a couple miles and other times it was complete days. I want to keep working to complete as many as I can. Everyone on our team was able to complete the route this year even though a number of us had to visit medical for a little help with blisters and other issues. The support that the 3-Day provides for the walkers is really top notch. During this weekend we talked about where we want to walk next year and we have decided on going back to San Diego. So far we have a definite four going and who knows what will happen in the next year. It was good to see my friends again. I have been walking with Kathy, Stephanie, and Lisa since 2007 and last walked with Marcia in 2013. Megan was a welcome addition to the team also. She fit right in with the group. Some day we may not have a reason to walk and I will be ok with that. Until then it’s good to know that I have friends that I will see when we get together to continue to raise money to find the Cure.
Many thanks to all that donated to help us continue this fight.