Many people travel to volunteer and/or to support causes that are special to them – in tourism jargon we may say voluntourism or special event tourism. I’ve done both, but in this post I will focus on a specific cause for which I travel periodically.
Since 2009 I have traveled 6 times to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day® – a non-competitive 60-mile walk done in 3 days. I’ve gone to San Francisco in 2009, Seattle 2011 and 2016, Washington D.C. 2012, and San Diego 2013 and 2015. My team (Breast Defense League) usually stays in a hotel the night before the walk begins and the night that it ends. Sometimes we’ll stay longer to get in a day or two of sightseeing. We dine in local restaurants and visit spots that friends may have recommended. If you multiple our activities by several thousand for the larger walks or even just one thousand for the smaller ones, you can get some idea of how this type of event can impact a destination. This year I will be heading to New England for my 7th walk. In this post I’ll try to give you a sense of what that experience is like 🙂
After 2 years off, I am back in 2019 to do my 7th 3-day, 60 mile walk. This year I’ll be walking September 6-8 in the New England area which is home for many of my family and friends. I am so excited! I started these walks in 2009 as part of my commitment to raise awareness about breast cancer and to raise funds for community programmes and research. I continue to do them for those reasons, for the incredible ladies on my team, the amazing people young and old I’ve met along the way and for my family and friends.
The 3-day is quite a challenge, yet despite 2 years off I know I am up to the task. Walking 60 miles in 3 days tests me both mentally and physically. Yes, training in the months before certainly helps a lot, but really walking 60 miles of hills, slopes, inclines, twists, turns, flats, cobblestones, broken pavements and so on in 3 consecutive days is never going to be easy. The first five times I did this walk my team camped each night; the last time we stayed in a hotel. Something tells me I’ll be hoteling again this year. Did I mention that we wake up at the crack of dawn for three consecutive days?! If you know me, I don’t need to say anymore.
On the first day of the walk I’m usually gung-ho because the event is finally here. I’m with friends that I don’t see very often and the opening ceremony is inspirational, reminding us of why we’re walking 60 miles. I am ready to walk. The first day also tends to be the longest at around 23-26 miles, but catching up with friends, being cheered on by strangers, and if I’m lucky, being cheered on by family (Washington DC, 2012), keep me going. At the end of the first day, my muscles are definitely sore, I may have a blister or two, or just some hot spots, and I’m TIRED because I’ve likely been awake since 4 am. NOTE – there are still 2 days to go.
Day number 2 is haaaaarrrd. Haaaaaarrrrrrddddd. Cause I walked 23-26 miles on day 1, I probably didn’t sleep very well, I woke up at 5:30 am, I may not have enjoyed breakfast, and I know I have to walk 18-20 miles that day. But there’s no giving in or giving up. Plus, the upside – I’m with my friends, I’m meeting other walkers and chatting with them, strangers are cheering us on (or offering us jell-o shots if we’re in San Diego :)), I’m walking on/through/by historic routes/areas/sites, I’m really enjoying nature (even the rain in Seattle 2016), and I have frequent reminders of why I walk 60 miles in 3 days. I walk because I can and others can’t. I walk because I want a present and a future in which my niece will walk 60 miles in 3 days for the thrill and the pleasure of doing it, but not because breast cancer is still a threat to many women and some men globally.
And then comes day number 3! The last day! Between the first step and the closing ceremony are 14-17 miles, depending on the city where the walk is happening. But along the route, there are also – strangers cheering us on, chats with new friends, a leisurely lunch at a good restaurant, maybe a margarita or mojito, great conversations with my team, making plans for dinner that night, perhaps sightseeing the following day, and more. So quite quickly the last of the 60 miles is done and it’s time for the closing ceremony. I’ve survived. I’ve been thanked by many people along the way for walking. I’ve overcome my mental challenges and was either lucky to finish the walk with no blisters, or determined enough to finish with the ones I’d gotten – in 2016 I won my team’s pink diamond for the most blisters and I accepted it with pride.
There are few events for which I willingly wake up before sunrise and I don’t need to set 4 or 5 alarms to get out of bed. The 3 day is one of them. The people helped by this walk are worth it. By my estimation my physical and mental challenges pale in comparison to what people with breast cancer go through. So I deal with these challenges and I walk 60 miles in 3 days because I am able and I can walk for those who cannot walk for themselves. I can walk alongside people who need a companion for a few miles to help them make it through or a quick conversation or cheer to help them make it to the finish.
The physical and mental challenges of walking 60 miles take a lot to overcome, yet I find the challenge of raising funds to be a lot more difficult. I, like every other walker, commit to raising a minimum of $2,300. This year, my deadline is August 7th. Any shortfall from my $2,300 minimum I donate myself. I also pay my own travel costs so all funds donated in my name go to Susan G. Komen. For four of the six walks I’ve done so far I was fortunate to raise most of my $2,300 through the kindness of others. For the other two I’ve had to donate just over $700 and $1100. But that is my commitment and I live up to it because it is crucial that we surmount these challenges and make breast cancer a disease of the past.
So I am appealing for your help with my fundraising challenge this year because breast cancer touches all of us. Please support this worthwhile cause and donate by August 7, 2019.
You can donate in one of several ways:
- Go directly to my Susan G. Komen 3-Day® page https://tinyurl.com/mechbest3day2019
- Go to http://www.the3day.org, click on Donate and search for my name.
- Download and print a donation form from either webpage to donate by mail.
As always I appreciate your support and I’ll carry you with me and think of you as I take this 60-mile journey against breast cancer. Also, feel free to join me on one of my training walks or indoor rides or be a cheerleader for my team and I in New England. I’m walking because my niece and nephew and all the nieces, nephews, daughters, sons, sisters, bothers, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends deserve a future without the fear of breast cancer.
Find out more about Susan G. Komen
Peace & Love