Our team is preparing for the Atlanta 2 Day this November! We are raising awareness, training and holding fundraisers. Here is my article from last year! The Atlanta 2Day Walk for Breast Cancer was so much fun I am already signed up for 2017! Twenty miles in one day and ten the next was not a breeze by any means but the experience and camaraderie of fellow walkers and volunteers was so uplifting that I am already looking forward to next year! The Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer, produced by It’s The Journey Inc., raises money for Georgia breast health and breast cancer programs. All of the money raised here, stays here in Georgia. The theme the walk this year was in honor of the military. Below, I share my experience as a 2-Day rookie and hope that I can inspire more people to walk in the Atlanta 2 Day!
Our team, The Big Squeeze, was 29 members strong October 15-16, 2016 weekend. Members of our team ranged in age from teens (kids of mom’s walking) to senior citizens. Some walked all 30 miles over two days and some walked just 10 miles on Sunday. Our courageous leader, Kristin Kepner, is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Not only does she have a huge heart, but she is hilarious and just being around her brings a smile to my face. I feel so fortunate to have met her through Layne (AMO’s graphics mom) and am honored to be a part of her team. Kristin began walking when her neighbor and close friend, Mary, was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been walking for 12 years. Mary has walked for many years as well and did her best, despite health issues, to walk with us this year. We all walk for someone ~ my mother is a one year breast cancer survivor and doing well. My brother’s wife lost her mother to breast cancer when she was in high school. Breast cancer is so prevalent that, unfortunately, we all have a connection. Let’s change that and do what we can to eradicate breast cancer.
Kristin motivated us by planning training walks starting in May and whoever could make it would show up. We would walk anywhere from 4 miles, to the longest walk, which was about 13 miles and included a breakfast stop at J Christophers! Kristin holds an annual Bunco night to gather team members and friends together and raise money for the team. Team members bring a dish to share and bunco prizes. Kristin has a knack for making everyone feel welcome – another fascinating quality of hers. Our team also planned a jewelry shopping event in late September at Kendra Scott Avalon where we raised over $400! Kendra Scott gives back 20% from their charity events and it was fun buying early Christmas gifts all for a good cause!
I was nervous to walk 20 miles in one day especially if it was going to be hilly. Most of the training walks I participated in did not include many hills. I was worried hills and heat conditions might pose problems! But if for some reason I couldn’t continue or was injured, I knew that between the B’Rest Stops, Sweep Vans and our team member “buddy system,” I would be alright.
At 4:45 a.m. on Saturday October 15, I rose to prepare for the big day. I met up with other team members and followed them to the parking garage near the Marriott Marquis where we would spend the night. Inside the Marriott, we were instructed to check our bags where they would all be stored together and asked to check into our room later. I wasn’t quite prepared to check my bags as I had on flip flops and additional clothing. I, for some reason, had in my head that we would be checking in our room early and would have a few minutes to organize things and change clothes. Some people paid for an extra night and came early. (The registration fee covers one night stay with a roommate). Note to self – come ready to walk next year and have bags ready to check! Check-in was easy as tables were organized by last name and we were given our official credentials to wear at all times while walking. The name badge lists the b’rest (love the lingo!) stops and distance to each one. I was looking forward to lunch at the 10 mile stop already!
Next, we walked to the Hard Rock Cafe and feasted on a buffet of scrambled eggs, fruit, bacon and coffee! I knew I would be emotional at opening ceremonies because not only are so many people doing something special for a great cause but many breast cancer survivors walk as well. At each ceremony, breast cancer survivors lead the pack with inspirational music playing – it is a sight to see! Kim Goff, the Executive Director of The Atlanta 2Day, gave an inspirational speech and before we knew it we were on our way! Walking past the motorcycle and bike crew volunteers was just as emotional because they have been there supporting us through the Atlanta 2 Day organized training walks and will protect and guide us for two days. The Moto crew decorated their motorcycles with fun breast cancer signs and paraphernalia, blare encouraging music and keep us motivated. Some even dance while holding the traffic!
The Saturday route of 20 miles took us from the hotel downtown to the Atlanta International School for lunch – and then back. We walked through beautiful residential neighborhoods in Ansley Park, Midtown, Peachtree Hills, Garden Hills and Buckhead. The numerous b’rest stops provided water, Powerade, healthy snacks, porta potties and medical assistance – including dozens of podiatry technicians, if needed. And I needed! Just a few band-aids – but it was great to know the medical care was there when needed. I was ready to take a break, eat and relax at the 10 mile lunch stop! A delicious lunch was provided by Einstein Bagels. As the afternoon wore on, it was comforting to be able to rest as long as we needed and snack at the stops. I will fully admit the last couple miles on Saturday as we neared the 20 mile marker were tough. My legs and hips were sore and I was ready to sit and relax. There was a pink carpet at the finish line with volunteers holding the tape to cross – what a feeling to just have finished the first 20 miles! Layne and I changed and went to the hot tub where we soaked our feet and relaxed! Sooo nice! I highly recommend bringing a bathing suit for the hot tub or soaking your feet in the hot water to ease the soreness.
I had a rash on the top of my feet, a swollen area just under my toes and the hot spots were really bothering me. The medical staff was available until 7pm at the hotel so I decided my feet would appreciate the attention. I sat next to a Big Squeeze team member whose feet looked horribly worse compared to mine! (Sorry Heather) She had big blisters ;( A doctor examined my feet and mentioned that if the rash spread to visit a doctor the next day. He gave me hydrocortisone cream and plenty of band-aids for the evening and next day of walking. I was set to go! Layne, my partner in crime, who walked in old tennis shoes hardly had sore feet and had no blisters or hot spots. She did have a few on Sunday though 😉
Everyone wore pajamas or dressed casual to the Pajama party dinner in the ballroom. We leisurely enjoyed on a buffet of chicken and salmon with vegetables, salad and dessert. Kim Goff announced the team winners for the best team decorated dinner table and recognized teams with the highest funds raised. She also introduced the featured speaker of the night, Captain Shaye Haver, the first female to graduate from the Army Ranger School at Fort Benning. She spoke of the hardships she overcame to become an Army Ranger, and compared the strength and courage it takes to fight breast cancer to the fortitude it takes to become a Ranger.
Sunday morning we headed out for the last ten miles after a hardy breakfast. Riding the escalator down and seeing everyone cheering brought walkers to tears. Throughout both days of walking, the support from various groups on the streets, sidewalks and stops was phenomenal. Sunday’s walk along the Atlanta beltline, through Cabbagetown and to the State Capital was emotional. Walking through the finish line and seeing all the emotion from survivors, walkers and family members made me realize what we accomplished and how proud I was. I can’t wait until next year!
For the 2016 walk, The Big Squeeze had 29 walkers raising $29,429 in donations!! Overall, $1,017,053 was raised by the Atlanta 2-Day Walkers for 2016!
All the money raised for the Atlanta 2 Day Walk stays in GA. Want to know where the money goes? Visit Here to learn more about the 2016 grantees. Since 2003, the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer has raised $13 million and has awarded 271 grants across Georgia. The 2 Day Walk provides funding for screening mammograms, diagnostics, genetic counseling and testing and this year funded two breast cancer research projects. and even started funding research! One, at Emory University, is studying the use of turmeric to prevent bone mestastasis. The second, at Morehouse School of Medicine, is studying triple negative breast cancer.
Interested in learning more about the Atlanta 2Day or joining our team? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Also, visit www.atlanta2daywalk.org. All opinions are my own.