Friday, July 29, 2011

MY Weekend, THE Walk, OUR Experience

In the early morning sun on Saturday July 23rd, I learned that I was one of 1250 men and (mostly) women who had joined to raise over $2.6 million towards the research and cure for women's cancer. It was a mind Linkblowing big deal to me in that moment and would only be the first of many mind-blowing big deal moments I would experience within the next 48 hours.
Opening Ceremonies

None of the images in this post were professionally shot. Most of them were done while hobbling with a point-and-shoot but I feel that after so many of you supported me prior to and during the Walk that I should give you a glimpse at what transpired this past weekend. This post is a doozy so grab a coffee and prepare to hunker down a while (I walked 60 km in 2 days so I'm sure you can stand to hear me wax on for a few paragraphs...then we'll call it even, 'kay?)we raised almost $6500 as a team!

The Weekend to End Women's Cancer is held annually across Canada in various large cities. My old friend and photography colleague Jennifer Kirk (from Vancouver, BC) and I teamed up with our mutual friend (and all-around pillar of strength, rock star), Katy Vaydo (from Langley, BC) for the Calgary walk. Kinda of a meet in the middle sort of thing. Jenn had walked 3 previous 60km walks (yup, she's nuts), 2 in Vancouver, one in Toronto.
Jennifer Kirk

Jenn is our team captain. She lost her grandmother to breast cancer and does her grandma proud everyday with the integrity and passion in which she lives her life. Her friendship is one of my most cherished things. She has seen me through A LOT and therefore her strength through this whole crazy adventure didn`t surprise me at all.
Katy Vaydo

Katy (Katie, Katee, Kady) Vaydo. I met Katy through Jenn and I kind of feel like everyone in the world should meet Katy at least once to become a whole person. Katy is funny, quiet but mouthy, beautiful and has a chasm-deep sense of family and community. Katy`s mother is a breast cancer survivor. Katy`s 24 year old brother, Andrew, lost his battle with lymphoma only 10 days before Jenn and Katy left Vancouver for the walk in Calgary. 10 days!!, yet Katy honoured her brother with humour and strength through the entire thing. I never met Andrew but through the gut-spitting laughter and the occasional teary-eyed smile over this weekend, I felt like I got a pretty good idea of why everyone will miss him for long years to come.the first of MANY steps

the volunteers were amazing. Nurse Deb Harris bandaged my foot at lunch at 11:30 am and I saw her working on people at 9:00 that night...lunch, day onesecond photo down on the left (above) is the list of the people you asked me to tuck into my pocket while I walked.Jenn and Heather, being Jenn and Heather

the Boobs on Bikes were the most amazing group of volunteers. They not only VOLUNTEERED all weekend to direct traffic and keep the route safe, they buoyed our spirits constantly along the way. I became well-known along the route for my bouncy walk (if you know me, you know my walk) and the dude on the right with the hairy boots always grabbed my arm and skipped along side me whenever we met up!
on the left: Mel Porter, college friend that I hadn`t seen in 16 years and breast cancer survivor (this time last year she was still in treatment AND walking). On the right, Melvin, the 80-year-old man who pushed his wife`s empty wheelchair 60kms in his wife`s memory
my family, thank you!
the end!
a really good reason to walk, my 9-year old daughter, Grayson

I want to thank a LOT of people. I want to FIRST thank Rob, my husband or `Slingy`as he became known as due to a ridiculous-sized, post-surgery arm sling. He was our pit crew and all around support throughout the weekend... plus in the 10 months leading up to the walk he helped me train, helped me fund raise and kicked my butt out of bed to work out and walk (while he rolled over and took the warm space I left behind). I want to thank EVERYONE who made a donation. Each walker needed to raise a minimum of $2000 to participate. Thanks to Molly Lux & Marla Boyer-Cook for helping fund raise with The High Tea in Saskatoon; thank you to all the ladies who came out to support The High Tea; thank you to my dad for helping train the `long walks`needed to get my body ready for 60km; thank you to Carla at Bridge City Fitness for kicking my butt around the gym all winter, supporting the walk by bringing a bunch of ladies out to the Tea and continuing to support me as I stepped out of the gym and began to hit the payment in earnest this spring. Thanks to my mom for watching my kids and being the person I leaned on throughout the fears of training and fundraising. Thanks to my kids, you just rock.

Thank you to everyone who emailed, texted, Facebooked and Tweeted me through the Walk. Through the really tough parts, those messages inspired me. Thank you Calgary, you were a beautiful city to spill some pain, laugh a lot and do good.

1 comment:

Tairalyn said...

Thank you Heather for posting about THE walk. The photos toych my heart the script brings me there along side. I wish I could have been there with you 3, you sure made a difference in this world! And Ivan never thank you enough for that!