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The morning of Day Three, there was a buzz in the air. Days One and Two were done. No matter how crappy our bodies felt, we only had one more day to go. I could put my feet up all day tomorrow if I had to. Plus, my family was coming to visit today, so I had to make it to those cheering stations. As I exited the camp and crossed the starting line, I saw my dad and step-mom standing there, dancing to the music, giving hi-fives to the walkers as they passed by them. I immediately broke out in tears and hugged them so tightly. I could see their confidence in me in their faces. They knew I could walk these last 20 miles.
I now had to make it to mile 5, where my friends (Ashley and Anney), Hubby, and two boys (who I missed desperately) were waiting to cheer for me. Those 5 miles were a breeze, even though it started to rain. I was motivated and excited again! As I turned the corner, I saw my kids’ blond hair blowing in the breeze as they jumped up and down with the signs Jason had made the night before. I couldn’t stop hugging them. They smelled so good; I just drank in their love and support. Then Anney and Ashley ran up, cheering and shouting. It was like another shot of adrenaline. Their smiles were infectious! I saw my end goal and I knew I could meet it.
At mile 7 I ran into Dr. Doug again. He quickly repaired my bandages and gave me the encouragement I needed to press on. After lots of stretching stops, a visit from my awesome step-dad (John), dance parties with the Hookers for Hooters, a lunch break for a machaca burrito in Old Town, and a trek up the hill on San Juan Street into Mission Hills, we were in the final stretch. Burning calves, shin splints, and painful quads wouldn’t slow us down. We could taste the victory. The stretch along Balboa Park was filled with cheering fans and family members, thanking us for walking for their loved ones. “2 more miles!” they shouted. Their support infused us with encouragement and perseverance.
Finally, it was the last mile through downtown San Diego. The pain in my body seemed to dissipate. I was almost there, with my mom and new friends at my side, surrounded by cheering fans. We entered the gates at Petco Park and a crew member scanned our badge for the final time. My mom and I looked at each other and burst into tears. The journey was over! We had overcome both physical and emotional pain to get to this point. The overwhelming emotions I felt at the moment were similar to those I had experienced as I walked down the aisle to marry the love of my life and as I saw my boys enter the world. Intense strength and love for myself and those around me.
The conclusion to this event was the Closing Ceremony. Mandy, Lisa, my mom, and I walked arm-in-arm into the ceremony area, surrounded by all of the courageous women and men who had accomplished this amazing feat as well. Lining the entrance were the crew members, police officers, and Walker Stalkers, who were the cheerleaders and spirit-raisers throughout the walk. Without their support and encouragement, I may not have been able to finish those 60 miles.
This final scene reminded me of the movie Big Fish. At the end of the movie, Ewan McGregor is reunited with all of the characters from his father’s tall-tale stories, as they offer their respects to his father, who had just passed. Walking past the crew, officers, and Walker Stalkers as we entered the ceremony, I looked into each of their teary eyes and offered thanks from the depths of my heart. They played such a pivotal role in this journey and they were the embellished characters in this 3-day story.
As the breast cancer survivors entered the ceremony, all of the walkers took off a shoe and raised it high into their air. We walked alongside them. We walked for them. We walked for their families and friends. We honored their commitment and strength. They are true heroes. In San Diego, 3,600 walkers raised 9.2 million dollars to go towards breast cancer research. What an accomplishment for all of us.
I am a truly changed woman after walking these 60 miles. I feel so blessed for all of the good fortune I have experienced in my life. I hope to continue to view my life with the perspective I have gained over the past weekend. I now know that I am able to accomplish anything that I put my mind to, which I hope to pass on to my children. And I hope to be continually reminded of the importance to give to others and to pay it forward, for I may never know the extent of which a good deed will grow.