The 2013 Tampa 3-Day

This past weekend I traveled to Tampa for the Komen 3-Day for the Cure. I am not sure why they call it the Tampa 3-Day since we didn’t walk at all in Tampa but it was a nice walk anyway. This was my seventh year walking and it did not go quite as planned but was a good experience anyway.

IMG_0641I traveled to Tampa on Thursday to meet my team Thursday night before we walked on Friday. I was at the Airport in Milwaukee at 5:00 AM and finally arrived at my Hotel in Clearwater at about 3:30 PM. I had time to grab some dinner and check out the beach before heading to bed. Thursday nights are usually early nights since we have to be up so early on Friday. The picture above is a picture of sunset over the Gulf from the Hotel Beach. It was awesome.

Friday morning I was up about 5:00 AM to get repacked and to head over to Opening Ceremonies with the team. Our team started with five walkers and one Youth Corps this year. While we were waiting to get our picture taken before Opening Ceremonies, we met a young woman that was part of a larger team but really didn’t know where any of them were. We invited her to walk with our team and and she walked with us all weekend. Christina had lost her Mother to Breast Cancer 4 years before and had been walking, crewing, or volunteering at the Tampa 3-Day each year since then. She shared a lot of her Tampa experiences with our team and was a great addition to the team. I think she connected really well with another new member of our team who is a Survivor. It’s these kind of connections and people that make walking the 3-Day such a great experience.

openingOpening Ceremonies were held at Sand Key Park in Clearwater. They started a little differently this year by trying to get everyone warmed up by doing a little Zumba instead of just stretching. I think they could rethink that one. We were a little too tightly packed to do Zumba in that space. You also had people like me that are a little too uncoordinated for Zumba and could be dangerous in running into someone else. The route Friday morning was very scenic and had us crossing bridges in Clearwater with great views of the water. It was just after lunch that my first issue of the weekend really started to be a problem. I had stomach issues Thursday night and thought that I was over them Friday morning. By lunch on Friday I was so nauseous that I could barely eat. I was drinking plenty to stay hydrated but just could not eat. A couple miles out of lunch I had to stop as between the heat and the nausea I felt like I was going to get sick just about every step. That finished my day. I ended up taking a sweep van to the pit stop and then was transferred back to camp for Medical to take a look at me. They were concerned that maybe I was dehydrated but I was putting out plenty so I was sure that was not the case. They gave me a couple of tablets that settled my stomach finally and I was able to have dinner without event. I am very thankful for the great volunteers of Medical that took great care of me. I didn’t have anything life threatening but they made sure I was ok and I saw several of them later in the weekend and they all asked me how I was doing.

Saturday morning was the next of my two issues for the weekend. The night had been damp and my allergies were bothering me and when I got up Saturday morning I had to take some medicine for my Asthma. My lungs were not feeling very good even after my morning meds and I didn’t want to use my inhaler again as i had used it during the night so I had to not walk Saturday morning to see if my meds were going to take care of my lungs in time. I was fortunate that by lunch I was feeling pretty much normal and I was able to walk all of Saturday afternoon. It was another very scenic route and there were many people out cheering and encouraging the walkers. The people of Tampa were very generous in their support of the walkers. There were many groups out that were offering walkers bottles of water, ice, cold towels, or anything else they could think of that would help out the walkers. I just love how generous and supportive the people were. I was able to make it back to camp and actually have a normal night in camp and did not have to spend any time in Medical.

youthSaturday night during the camp show, one of the highlights is the speakers. The one that our team was very interested in was the short presentations by the Youth Corps. One of the Youth Corps members was the daughter of our teammate Stephanie. The Youth Corps is a group of kids between 10 and 16 years old that spend the weekend helping out around camp and the route. They work as a group all weekend and there is an interview process to get accepted to the group. There were 16 members this year and they all had stories of how their lives had been impacted by Cancer and why they wanted to be there. The youngest of the members this year was 10 and the oldest was 15. I heard comments from several crew throughout the weekend that the Youth Corps was doing such a great job and was pitching in and helping where asked and had a very positive attitude. All of these kids were here because they wanted to be there to help and make a difference. It’s awesome that these kids have this opportunity. The Youth Corps started out years ago in Boston but is now present in all of the 3-Day cities. Stephanie’s daughter has been cheering her Mom on for years so I am sure that getting to be part of this weekend with her was a great experience for both of them.

TreeSunday morning I was up at 5 to get ready for Day 3. Sunday is always an early start because we have to repack all of our gear and take down our tents because once we leave camp that morning we are not coming back. This was a particularly difficult Sunday morning for repeat Tampa walkers because after 9 years of 3-Day events in Tampa, this was to be the last. Komen has cut the number of 3-Day Cities form 14 to 7 for next year and Tampa will not be one of them in 2014. It’s kind of a shame because it really is a beautiful walk and there is plenty of community support. The route on Sunday had us walking into St. Petersburg with lots of time on the water. It was awesome. There were more people out cheering and supporting the walkers on Sunday than there were on Saturday. The weather was almost perfect for walking. I personally would like a little cloud cover every now and then but we didn’t get any of that. We had sun all weekend long. Sunday was my best day of the weekend. I felt great. I had a couple of blisters but I pretty much do every year so no big deal there. We were feeling so good that we even got our picture take in a tree at lunch. In hindsight it probably wasn’t our brightest idea but we did it anyway and no one got hurt. It’s one of my favorite pictures of the weekend. Christina wasn’t in our picture because she was eating lunch with her other team at the time. They got to see her around lunch and we got to see her the rest of the weekend.

closingWe finished walking about 3:00 PM on Sunday. We made it into Holding and spent some time just relaxing before closing ceremonies. We did get to meet some more new people and one of the women that we were talking to just amazed me. She was working on getting the bandages off of her feet while we talked to her. The blisters were unbelievable. They made the ones I had look like nothing at all. Despite those blisters she had walked the entire way and made it. It’s that kind of determination that simply amazes me. There is a lot of that during the 3-Day weekend. Closing Ceremonies were brief but emotional as always. This was also when our team lost our new member. She could not join us for Dinner as she had to go meet her family to celebrate her niece’s birthday which had been on Saturday. It was a pleasure to have her join us and I wish her all the best in the future. The rest of team went out for Dinner and then back to the Hotel where we also said goodbye since the team members had flights at different times.

I think that there are times every year when I ask myself why I continue to do this and I just have to look as far as the 3-Day walkers group on Facebook or at the faces all around me during the 3-Day weekend to be remind me why. I started walking to honor my mother but I continue to walk for the same reason that so many others do. It’s because we can. It is something that we can do to make a difference. I am so fortunate that my mother is a Survivor but there are so many others that have not been that fortunate. We have to keep walking so that my daughters and nieces and everyone else can some day live without fearing this disease. This was not the first walk that I had not completed all 60 miles and it probably won’t be the last. I train and I prepare to walk and walk as much as I can but if I can’t walk all of the miles I am okay with that. Everything happens for a reason.

I have already registered to walk in the Twin Cities next year for my 8th year. My daughter Molly is going to train with me next year and is going to join our team and try to walk all 60 miles as well. That means more effort in Fundraising next year but I am sure that we can meet that challenge. Sharing the experience with my daughter is something I can’t wait for. I also look forward to seeing my teammates again. Kathy, Lisa, Stephanie see you next year in the Twin Cities. Marcia, enjoy your walk in Seattle. Christina, have a great time planning your wedding. Kristen, Dale, I hope that you can join us again next year.

Thank you for all of your support this year and for all the years past and years to come.

God Bless

Greg