Lots of Walk details

Because I have had so many questions asked of me about the walk I am going to tell you more details. We arrived in the chilly pre-dawn hours on Friday. In the drop off area, people dressed in boas, tutus, and wings directed us to a truck marked with our tent address. Our bags, also marked with our tent address, went into the truck. We proceeded to the opening ceremony area with all 2,400 walkers and our backpacks. During the moving ceremony, we were reminded of why we were walking as a flag was raised with the names of those who have died from breast cancer written on it. The sun peeked out just as we began to walk the long trail. The barcodes on the nametags around our necks were scanned and we were on our way. The same finely dressed traffic crew directed us throughout the weekend, at every intersection.
Every 3 miles there was a pit stop with water, Gatorade, healthy snacks, a medical tent and rows of porta potties. On the first day, because we all left at the same time we also arrived close to the same time therefore, each station had long lines of people. At each pit stop, the group got more spread out so that over the course of the weekend the lines lessened. Each pit stop had buttons or stickers to add to your lanyard. After a few pit stops we arrived at lunch, which consisted of a sandwich, apple, chips, carrots and cookies. Lunch stops were a bit longer and we took off our shoes to let our feet rest. There were also cheer stations along the way. These are designated places for people to gather and cheer you on. People dress up, give candy and other assorted items, and they cheer. It gives the walkers a big boost to see those faces cheering them on. Many of them carry signs telling their stories…some are bald from treatment. It is motivating to say the least.
If you should need to stop between pit stops there were sweep vans. Each had a theme and was decorated accordingly. The music that blared over the speakers went with the theme as well. To get on a van you made an x with your arms over your head. The van stopped and the “host” jumped out, opened the door and placed the footstool out for you to climb aboard. Each van had its own buttons or stickers, that, of course went with the theme. Once on the van, there was air conditioning and camaraderie until you came to the pit stop where you exited. The van then went back for more walkers in distress. If you could not continue from the pit stop, there was a bus to lunch so you could bypass pit stops and go straight there. It was quite the set up and one of the reasons I felt I could attempt this walk. I am more fit than I was, but no where near as fit as I would need to be to walk without this added support. There were several times over the course of the walk where we had to use the sweeper vans…when a blister busted and we needed supplies, or when Hannah overheated and needed medical care. The first day we were tired so we caught the bus back to camp and skipped the last 2 miles. We figured 18 was enough for day one.
Once we were scanned in at camp, we found our truck and retrieved our stuff along with a pink tent. We found our address and set our tent up. We were at the end of our row so it was easy to find our tent. It was not so easy for others because all the tents looked exactly the same. We brought decorations to help solve this problem. After our tent was set up, we went to the dining tent. There was a food buffet line where the crew served us, then we sat in a big circus looking tent at the tables. The food was very good. First night’s meal was steak and potatoes, the second was chicken cacciatore. After walking as much as we did, anything would have tasted good. All of the evening events, speakers, games, karaoke and concerts took place in this area.
The showers were in semi truck trailers. Five or six showers per truck. They had chairs set up outside each truck for the lines. When one person went in, the rest of us moved down a spot. The first night it took an hour or so to finally get to the shower. The sinks were outside the trailers and were much easier to get to than the showers. Hannah went to take her shower later the first night, thinking that most people would go earlier. She was wrong and ended up going to bed with wet hair. This proved to be a bad thing since it got very cold that night. The camp bed time was 9:00. While not everyone was ready, for the most part, people tried to abide by the time. I took earplugs for the purpose of shutting out all noise. The first night I realized my sleeping bag would not completely zip. No problem I thought…it was warm when we went to bed. Little did I know that it would plummet into the low 40’s. I slept about an hour total that night. I couldn’t get warm and because you drink a ton of fluid while walking, you have to go to the bathroom all night long. Getting up and down in the cold proved to be very hard to overcome for me.
Day two started out very cold, and after practically no sleep our team decided that we would walk until lunch and then head back to camp for some rest. That proved to be our best decision of the weekend. We got showers with no waiting. We got our phones charged with no waiting. (There is a phone charging station set up, because there is no electricity, there is also a computer station so you can check e-mail) We got signed up for massages, with no waiting. Then we got our 8-minute massages (not too long but better than nothing.) There was no line for the medical tent either, so Hannah went and had her hip worked on by a sports medicine doctor. We felt that in order to walk the whole way on Sunday this rest was critical. My friend Jessica and her husband Keith, who live kind of close, brought me another sleeping bag. We went to dinner and the dance party…a last night in camp tradition. Then we pumped up our mattress and I doubled up the sleeping bags. I had on three layers of clothes, a hat and a sweatshirt. Needless to say, I was toasty warm, to the point that I kept Hannah awake with my snoring!
The third day we had to take down camp before we could walk. We got up early enough to eat, and go to medical to have our feet taped up, take down our tent, and pack and load our bags. Then we climbed aboard buses to be driven to Chamblee High School…our first pit stop for the day. I think someone figured out that it helps your mental state of mind to start at a pit stop before you have walked. From there we walked until we reached the Atlanta City limits. We wound down through the streets for several more pit stops and cheer stations. We took a sweep van when Hannah overheated, but we only missed a couple of miles. After Gatorade, lunch, and ice she felt much better and we hit the road again with only 4 miles to go. We skipped the last pit stop so we could FINISH!! Which we did. It was awesome to walk under the Olympic rings past the torch to see our family members who came to cheer for us. We took a few pictures with them then moved on down to the holding area. The last two miles Hannah’s knee began giving her some trouble so when we arrived at Turner Field we went straight to medical. They iced and wrapped her knee so we could make the victory walk. It was what seemed like a long wait until we lined up for the closing ceremony, which was in the parking lot of Turner Field. The survivors were separated from the other participants and walked in separately with our arms locked and pink shirts. As we arrived all the other participants took their shoes off and held them up in our honor. It was an emotional and overwhelming moment. We heard more inspirational messages, and our total of 6.1 million dollars raised. The ceremony finished with Candy Coburn singing Pink Warriors as the survivors danced on the stage of the survivor circle. All in all it was an amazing experience that cannot be fully described with words. You have to participate and feel the energy to grasp the significance of the event. I hope these details give you more of an idea of how huge this walk was. It was no small task, on any level. I am excited to have been a part of it.

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