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Avon Walk NY 2008 – liquid sunshine, the order of the day

October 9, 2008

The walk by the numbers:

  • Total Amount raised =  a record-breaking $11.5 million
  • Donations I received = 49
  • Amount I raised = $5,566  !!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Participants who walked = 4,500
  • Survivors who walked = 409
  • Oldest walker = 80 years old
  • Miles walked = 39.3
  • Bridges crossed = 2 (Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges)
  • Rain fall Sunday morning = 0.29 inches
  • Garbage bags converted to rain coats = a lot 🙂
  • Experience = Priceless

The New York Avon Walk was held this past weekend, October 4 and 5, 2008.  Jane, Carol, and I went in on Event eve to pick up our wrist bands.  Walking up 7th Avenue, we could tell we were nearing the hotel because we saw more and more people wearing Avon Walk t-shirts and pink.  Tara was at a table signing up walkers for next year.  And yes, I did register – I was #185 on Tara’s list.

Jeremy drove me into NY early Saturday morning.  I arrived just as the walkers were getting ready to set out.  Jane, Carol and I started off near the front of the massive throng of pink.  The day was overcast and cool, perfect for walking.  We headed north along the Hudson River and worked our way up to Riverbank park.  We walked north a little farther and then turned south traveling along Riverside Drive.

Lunch was in a park at 72nd Street and Riverside Drive.  While we were sitting on the wall eating, we started to feel a few raindrops, the wind picked up and it became colder.  I went to the medical tent and picked up Mylar thermal blankets.  Turns out they are not only good for warmth, but make excellent rain ponchos.  Fortunately the rain did not last long.   We continued south past Lincoln Center where a group of people were cheering on the walkers.  Next we passed Chelsea Market on our way to SOHO where I stopped at a Starbucks for a tall Awake tea.  Tasted way better than the Gatorade 🙂

By the time we reached the Brooklyn Bridge, the sun was shining and it was warming up.  No matter how many times I walk across the bridge, I am awestruck by the view of the Manhattan skyline.  There really is nothing like it any where else.  I can hear Sinatra singing… Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today I want to be a part of it – New York, New York.

The walkers snaked along the streets of DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and up to the Manhattan Bridge.  Around this time, it was about mile 18, my lower back and left knee were becoming very painful.  I’ve had the back pain before, especially during the 2006 walk on Day 1, but the knee pain was new.  I pressed on to the mile 20 marker and decided it was time to stop, especially as I wanted to continue the walk on Sunday.  Jane suggested we walk to Penn Station, which probably added another mile to my total walking distance for the day. When I got home, I took aspirin and rested my leg.

Jeremy drove Jane, Carol and I back for the walk on Sunday.  He dropped us off at the foot bridge from Randall’s Island.  The walkers had camped on the island overnight.  As we were waiting for the first walkers to cross the bridge, the sky became very dark and then the heavens opened up with a deluge of rain.  Fortunately, we were standing near a parking garage and ducked inside to avoid getting drenched.  Marcus, the attendant was very kind and provided Carol and Jane with large green garbage bags which they fashioned into rain coats.  I don’t know what had prompted me to bring my orange poncho, it certainly wasn’t the weather forecast which was for overcast skies.

I could see the walkers start to move their way along the opposite shore line and cross the bridge.  They were attired in a wide assortment of impromptu rain gear.  They wore green garbage backs, plastic table cloths, ponchos of every color.  Some had put baggies on their heads.

It was at least warmer than Saturday when it rained.  Because I had the trouble with my knee and back the day before, I told Jane and Carol that I was going to walk by myself today.  I wanted to walk at my own pace.  This was good not only for my aches and pains, but also gave me the opportunity to talk to walkers around me.  Around 8:30, the rain abated and the walkers were able to remove their rain gear.  I was surprised that my sneakers were not soaked through.

The Walk made it’s way south to the Avon Foundation office.  In front of the building was a large group of people handing out pink balloons.  Looking down the street, I saw hundreds of pink balloons bobbing up and down.  Past the New York library, the Empire State Building and the Flat Iron building we walked.  The route this year was a walking tour of New York landmarks.  The organizers even provided a travelogue and posted signs of attractions to see.  I met up with Linda near Gramercy Park, she was also walking solo.  She walks at the same pace as me, so we decided to walk together.

We stopped for lunch in lower Manhattan around mile 9.  God’s Love We Deliver (www.glwd.org) prepared the brown bag lunches.  Delicious herb chicken breast sandwiches (did they choose “chicken breast” on purpose or was it purely coincidental ?), salad, apple and of course the best brownie on the planet.  After finishing our meal, we walked towards the Hudson River and up towards the finish.

There were many families and groups lining the last two miles of the walk cheering the walkers.  They held signs encouraging and congratulating the walkers. I arrived at the finish line just after noon.  I was joined by my mom, sister and brother-in-law.  We enjoyed brunch at 44 & X Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant.

Linda and I returned to watch the closing ceremonies. The sun came out shortly before the ceremony started and bathed the walkers in sunshine. The light made the pink balloons glow.   It was a very moving experience to watch the survivors in their light pink Walk t-shirts parade through the crowd of walkers, family and friends.  Watch photo video of closing ceremonies on Youtube:  Closing Ceremonies

At the event’s Closing Ceremony, Carol Kurzig, Executive Director of the Avon Foundation, announced a total of nearly $13 million in local and national grants awarded to breast cancer organizations, ensuring that the funds raised by the Avon Walk immediately benefits the community.  Learn where the money goes – click here.

I can’t wait for next year !

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