Walking with a Purpose 2
By Glenda J. Kline, DCSki Contributor
Glenda (right) and Anita somewhere between Frederick, Md. and Washington, D.C. The two  were among 2,800 to walk 60 miles over three days to raise money  for breast cancer research.
On the road. Glenda (right) and Anita somewhere between Frederick, Md. and Washington, D.C. The two were among 2,800 to walk 60 miles over three days to raise money for breast cancer research. Photo by Ron Kline.
In October 1999, I saw a full-page ad in the Washington Post announcing a 3-Day walk from Frederick, Maryland to Washington, D.C. to benefit the fight against breast cancer. This announcement caught my imagination. I was a new retiree and interested in improving my physical fitness. This provided a great incentive for walking towards a meaningful goal, helping others and myself at the same time. The AVON Breast Cancer 3-Day series is one activity of the Avon Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade, a U.S. initiative created by Avon Products, Inc. in 1993. The Crusade raises funds through the AVON Breast Cancer 3-Days and through the sale of unique Pink Ribbon products by Avon’s nearly 500,000 U.S. independent sales representatives. Together, as of October 1999, these activities have generated more than $50 million in the U.S. for the breast cancer cause. The 3-Days are created and produced by Pallotta TeamWorks. Other 3-Day Walks scheduled for 2000 will take place in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. There will be another one in Washington, D.C. in May 2001. When I called to volunteer, I learned that I would have to raise a minimum of $1800 to be allowed to participate. That created a challenge for me, as I had not previously been involved in fundraising. Undaunted, I decided to register for the walk. I told friends, relatives, and neighbors about my effort and their generous support brought in pledges well above the minimum I needed.

Training

The second challenge was to get myself in physical shape to be able to successfully walk about 60 miles over the course of three consecutive days. My walks had previously been, at most, two or three miles around the neighborhood. Fortunately, the Avon Breast Cancer Three Day Walks are very well organized and very supportive of their walkers. I was sent a notebook which included lots of information on both the fund raising and training. It provided an eight-month training plan with increasing increments for the total miles per week and the length of individual walks. It also stressed the importance of stretching, proper diet, and hydration for endurance walking. It provided information about shoes, socks, and other clothing. For the actual training, it included a training chart for logging the walk location, terrain, and mileage. I found it interesting to record who my walking partners were as well. My primary walking partner on weekends, Anita, was someone I met at an official Walker Orientation. She and I went on to be walking partners and tent mates for the actual event. During the week my primary walking partner was my Sheltie dog, Tomiko. Over the months, I walked with several old and new friends as I met more of the “3-Dayers.” One exceptional training group organized two weekend training walks, one 15 mile back-to-back and one 20 mile back-to-back. For these we started in Rockville, walked in Rock Creek Park, spent the night in Washington, D.C., and then walked back to Rockville the next day. These walks were very important and completing them gave me the self-confidence I needed to believe that I could indeed walk 60 miles in three days. In total, I walked approximately 550 miles from November through April, and went through three pair of shoes and six pair of walking socks.

The Journey

The actual event started with check-in on Thursday, May 4, 2000. My walking partner and I checked in, watched the mandatory 1-hour safety video, registered, and got our tent assignments and route maps. Early the next morning we gathered with approximately 2,800 other 3-Dayers for the Opening Ceremony. It was a diverse group including men and women, many races, all ages (17 or above), and several hundred-breast cancer survivors. It was a moving opening ceremony as some of the speakers had very personal stories to relate.
Local fire departments help  combat the 90+ degree heat by spraying walkers as they walk by.
Cooling off. Local fire departments help combat the 90+ degree heat by spraying walkers as they walk by. Photo by Glenda Kline.
We started walking about 8:30 a.m. We walked through some very pretty residential areas of Frederick, down the main street, and south along Rt. 355. A few of us dashed into a deli for an early potty break and, to our surprise, they gave us free bagels. There were lots of signs of support along the way, and many people had gathered to wish us well. Friday morning we walked through lovely farming country. We had one very long, steep hill, which made my walking partner and I happy that we had included some good hills in our training walks. We got in 10.7 miles before lunch. Lunch consisted of chicken salad sandwiches, chips, and cookies. There were media planes and helicopters flying over throughout the day. There were also pit stops and Grab-‘N-Go stops every couple of miles, so there was plenty of water, fruit, snacks, and medical support along the way. (A few statistics on provisions for the three days: 36,400 gallons of bottled water and cold drinks, 14,000 energy bars, 8,300 bananas, and 8,200 pounds of chicken.) We passed the time by talking with other walkers, looking at some of the innovative T-shirts, hats, etc. that people had decorated with the names of people that they were honoring, comparing waist packs, shoes, aches and pains, and enjoying seeing areas that were new to us. There was a very refreshing moment when a local fire department had the pumper truck spraying us as we walked through an intersection about 2 miles out from camp! After another 6 miles in the afternoon, we arrived at our Friday evening camp site, Rocky Hill Middle School. Camp looked somewhat like a temporary army base. There were mobile kitchens and a large mess tent where food was served. There were medical, physical therapy, podiatry, message, and media tents. There were long lines for most of the services. There were mobile showers (more long lines), lots of portajohns, and a stage for the evening’s entertainment. We had to collect our gear and find our tent space. Lucky for us the Rocky Hill Middle School kids had already put up some of the tents - including ours. This was just one example of the tremendous support for the walkers! Many walkers had balloons or other items to distinguish their tent from the 1,400 or more other tents. Some campers even put up a white picket fence with some flowers in front of their tent. Dinner was spaghetti with meat sauce, green beans, garlic bread, tossed salad, and cake. The local CBS station was there and one of the hikers had a handheld TV so we were able to watch a live interview. We were in our sleeping bags by 9 p.m., but it was hard to sleep with so many people around - lots of snoring, tents being zipped and unzipped, portajohn doors banging, people whispering, etc.
Camps looked like temporary  army bases.
Sea of tents. Camps looked like temporary army bases. Photo by Glenda Kline.
On Saturday, we were up at 5 a.m., tore down our tent, carried it and our baggage to the gear truck, had a hearty breakfast, stretched, and were on our way by 6:40, shortly after the path opened. The road had one lane closed most of Friday and early on Saturday. We walked through Germantown where there were lots of family and friends to support us. In one instance a husband and two kids had made multiple signs for one of the walkers. We called them the “Hey, Wife” signs. Examples were: “Hey, Wife, Do I need to feed the kids before you get home?” ” Hey, Wife, It was Benny’s idea to see how many cheerleaders we can fit in the hot tub.” (Benny’s wife was also a walker.) “Hey, Wife, Where did you put Grandma’s teeth?” We all appreciated the humor, and had a chance to thank the husband at one of the Grab ‘N Go stops. We walked a total of 19.62 miles to camp with the temperature in the low 90’s and humidity at 85%. A large part of the walk was in direct sunlight. We had about 70 people “swept” by the sweeper vans that were continually driving the route to make sure that people were OK, or picking up those walkers who required assistance. We could identify these special trucks by the brooms that were attached and the enthusiastic crews that kept cheering us on. There were a couple of busloads that were swept at the lunch break. We were constantly reminded to hydrate and eat. I thought that I would start sweating blue sweat with all of the sports drink I was consuming. We took it slow and easy and made it all the way into camp at Tilden Middle School. Here we received a very welcome spraying from another fire truck. Our tent was about a quarter mile from the showers and sinks and the food tent, so we had quite a bit of walking to do in camp. This time we had to put up our own tent, but my tentmate was an experienced camper, so it went smoothly. It was hot enough that the organizers would not let the campers sleep in the tents in the afternoon until it cooled down considerably.

Home Stretch

Sunday morning it was on to Washington (“only” 14 miles). The organizers opened the path at 6 a.m. because of the expected heat. We got started about an hour later, again because of the distances we had to walk in camp itself.
After conquering 60 miles, walkers joyfully cross the finish line.
Crossing the Finish Line. After conquering 60 miles, walkers joyfully cross the finish line. Photo by Glenda Kline.

This was a prettier walk through some wooded trails, including a portion of the Capitol Crescent Trail, along the C&O canal in Georgetown, and onto the mall. We stopped to have our picture taken at the “Welcome to Washington” sign we passed on the way. The local CBS news crew was there taking pictures and doing some interviews. We all gathered near the Lincoln Memorial to check in, have lunch, get our Victory T-shirts, and celebrate. Then we all walked together to the Washington Monument for the closing ceremony.

Glenda and  Anita, a bit teary-eyed, say goodbye on the Mall.
The victors saying goodbye. Glenda and Anita, a bit teary-eyed, say goodbye on the Mall. Photo by Ron Kline.

The closing ceremony was brief, but it was amazing to see how energized most of the walkers and crew looked after the three long days. There was a large crowd to welcome us.

All together, it was an amazing experience. The enthusiasm and kindness of the walkers and all of the crew and staff was exceptional. It will truly be a treasured memory for me. Best of all, the group raised $6 million dollars for the fight against breast cancer, a record for this type of event.

About the Author

Glenda Kline is a recent retiree from the Federal Government. She fills her time by mentoring, reading, traveling, taking care of her dog, Tomiko and husband, Ron - and by going on 60 mile walks.

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