This weekend, you won't find me at any of the many street festivals or pub crawls. I won't be celebrating birthdays with friends at the bars or shopping on Michigan Avenue. Nope, this weekend you'll find me painting the town pink with the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. You may remember Cheryl's story about our "training" (yes - the word training belongs in quotations, since our Yoberri stops and leisurely strolls along the lake didn't always qualify as training). Well, training time is over, and we've raised a ton of money - nearly $11,000! The big weekend is finally upon us!
This weekend, Jacey, Abby, Cheryl and I will be walking a marathon and a half with over 3,500 others to raise funds and promote awareness for this cause that has impacted so many women in our lives and around the world.
I don't think it would be out of line for me to guess that almost everyone who follows the Oy! blog knows someone who has been affected by breast cancer. This will be my third year walking with Avon, and it's a cause that's very close to my heart. My participation began in 2007 when I was seeking a mitzvah project that could offset the materialistic undertones of planning a wedding. David and I wanted to find a way to give back as our friends and family were showering us with gifts and well-wishes.
Picking the cause was easy for us. My aunt Cindy is a two-time survivor, and my mom's friend Peggy was just wrapping up treatment. David's grandmother Lotte has battled breast cancer twice in her lifetime, and his mother Carolyn lost her hard-fought battle when he was just six years old. For us, writing a check just wasn't going to be enough.
My sister and I walked together in 2007, and by the end of the weekend, I was dragging a bum-leg behind me and wondering why I signed up in the first place. In theory, walking 39 miles doesn't seem so daunting -- it's only walking, right!? Wrong. After hobbling on achy legs for a week after my first Avon Walk, I shocked myself at the realization I came to: I wanted to do it again.
In 2008, I signed up to do the walk on my own. My friends who had seen my blisters from the year before were intimidated by the physical side effects and the seemingly-high fundraising minimum of $1,800. Last year, with no training partner and a brutal winter that didn't seem to end until early June, I did the walk without training and with no walking partner. By the end, my hip joints throbbed, and I waddled through those last few miles at what seemed like a one-mile-an-hour pace.
As I was trudging down Lake Shore Drive toward the finish line, a woman and her daughter came up from behind me and asked me if I was alright. Emotionally and physically exhausted, I explained that I was having a tough time finding the motivation to keep walking alone through the pain. The woman, who had seen the tag on my back recognizing those who I was walking in honor and memory of, looked me right in the eye and said that if Carolyn could see me now, she would be so proud. Tears welled up in my eyes as they told me that I was no longer alone.
Now, as I prepare for my third annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, I hope that the mother-in-law that I never got to meet is smiling down on Team Motorboat. Perhaps she'll be able to convince the Big Guy to defer the rainstorms in the forecast for the weekend. My mom and her friend Peggy - now a two-year survivor - will be volunteering, and many of my friends will be joining me and my teammates for a couple miles along the way. Each year, I hope that this will be the year that they find the cure for this disease that seems to strike Ashkenazic Jews at an unusually high rate and endangers women everywhere.
If you're curious about how the walk is going this weekend, follow Oy! on Twitter -- Cheryl will be tweeting updates on Team Motorboat's progress.