A Personal Jouney
Jennifer 3 day walk for the cause!  

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My Dearest Family and Friends,

This letter comes with great thanks and appreciation for your support, through prayer and donations.  I was able to walk in the Breast Cancer 3-day Walk last weekend because of you.  The training and fund raising was difficult, and at times I thought I might not be able to do it, but your love and constant encouragement made it possible for me to get there. 

It all started early, very early, Friday morning.  Patrick picked me up from my mom’s at 4:45am and drove me to Jessica’s mom’s house.  We left there and met the rest of our team, Mary’s Lucky Charms (Jessica’s aunts and cousins), at The Henry Ford, in Dearborn at 5:30am.  It was still dark, but the glow of pink was energizing.  Thousands of women and men gathered together to make a difference and fight for something they believe in.  It was truly breath taking.  I knew I was in for an amazing weekend.  The opening ceremonies began with some stretching and cheering and a reminder of what we were there for …to find a cure for breast cancer.   People cheered and cried and the oneness that I felt with the other walkers was indescribable.

Our walk began as the sun came up and there was pink as far as the eye could see, in front of me and behind me.  Every few miles they had water/Gatorade, bathrooms, snacks and medical tents, they were called “pit stops” and “grab n go’s” .  Each stop had a ‘crew’ and medical team.  These people were volunteers and true angels!  They cheered us on and helped make us comfortable.  A few hours into the first day we stopped at a park for lunch.  Everyone took their shoes and socks off and rested and refueled.  The energy was still really high, and the thought of getting to camp kept us going.  At pit stop 4, the ‘crew’ was different.  It was the biggest welcome we received all day.  Cheering and hugging the members of my team, and then I noticed a lot of tears.  One of the crew members led all of Mary’s Lucky Charms to a beautiful pink sign with two pictures of a smiling woman, it read ‘Fighting for the cause, in memory of MaryAnn Coccia 1957-2009.  MaryAnn was the youngest of  7, Jessica’s aunt, and a member of pit stop 4’s crew. She recently lost her battle with breast cancer, but she was there with us in spirit.  I could tell what a special lady she was.     

Around 5pm we had finally made it “home”.   The path was lined with pink and white flags with words of encouragement on them and the “crew” cheered us in, singing and dancing around us.  We were exhausted, but they brought us back to life!  As we approached ‘tent city’ I was awestruck.  More than 1500 pink tents filled the grassy area and people buzzed all over the place, 20 miles down.  We had a spaghetti dinner, did some stretching and took a shower.  They had several different tents set up around camp, a post office, a store, and my favorite, internet tent where you could check email while sitting in a foot and back massage chair.  It was heavenly!  I visited with my new friends (Mary’s Lucky Charms) for a bit and was asleep by 10pm. 

Day 2 was far more difficult.  The only thing we had to look forward to was walking 20.9 miles in 90 degree weather.  Along the route there were cheering stations of people from the different communities cheering us on, handing out water, and misting us with cold water.  It was a welcomed pick me up!  Plymouth was my favorite city to walk through.  The crowd went on for miles and while we were there I forgot about my sunburn, road rash, and sore knee.  The city even turned the fountain pink.  It was a real tribute.    I felt like I floated through Plymouth. 

When we returned to camp that evening the local fire department welcomed us home with a hose spraying cold water for us to walk through.  It was great!  Dinner, showers and bed.  We were all beat.
Rise n Shine on day 3, 4:30am!  We ate breakfast and were bussed to Ann Arbor to start walking toward the closing ceremonies!  Everyone was tired and feeling pretty beat up, but there was a can do attitude in the air.  We all leaned on each other and it made the last stretch bearable.  We were so close to the finish line, we could feel it, our accomplishment was becoming a reality.  That is when I really got sad.  We were all going to stop walking, take our shoes off, get a foot rub, ect, but my Grandma (and so many others) don’t get to stop.  They have to keep fighting.  I was so frustrated I didn’t want to stop walking.  I just wanted to keep going, for Grandma! 

When we arrived at the closing ceremonies, my anger and frustration turned into hope and peace.  Grandma has to keep fighting, but she is not fighting alone!  We are going to find a cure for this disease.  Thousands of people came together and pledged to keep fighting, keep raising money, keep walking, keep crewing, keep hoping, keep believing!  In Michigan alone they raised over 4.5 million dollars!  Our team of 17 raised over $30,000.  The cure is near, it has to be!     

Although life is back to normal, I will be forever changed because of this experience.  Thank you again for your love, support and financial donations.  Cancer doesn’t care what the economy is like, and I know what a sacrifice it must have been to give money during this difficult time.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
God Bless You,

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