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The First of Many Avon Walks to Come

Ready to Roll!

Ready to Roll!

People often talk about life-changing experiences. At 40, I can say I’ve had a few. Yet nothing compares to the two-day, 39.3 mile journey around New York City shared  with thousands of people from all over the country, all sporting pink for a purpose. Being a part of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer can be summed up in one just one word: empowering.

When I arrived at Pier 84 along the Hudson River just after six on Saturday morning, I immediately felt a surge of energy. Then Sue, my fellow St. Mary’s Gael, and I found each other among the masses of people stretching, filling their water bottles and taking photos before the start of the journey and my excitement intensified through the duration of our bear-hug greeting. After the opening ceremony featuring motivational music and moving stories from breast cancer survivors and those who lost loved ones to the disease, we were off. When the journey ended nearly 30 hours later back at the spot where it all began, Sue and I had tears in our own eyes as we gave each other another bear hug and crossed the finish line.

26.2 Miles Done!

26.2 Miles Done!

The journey took us through many New York neighborhoods from the Upper West Side to Greenwich Village, over the Brooklyn Bridge, to Randall’s Island and back to where it all started. As we crossed streets with safe guidance and motivation offered by an amazing crew of volunteers, and welcomed pom-pom animated cheers from well-wishers in the different neighborhoods, we met people with so many different stories. A nine-year survivor who’s already looking forward to next year when her three granddaughters will join in for their first walk. A man from North Carolina who has participated in 91 Avon walks around the country in honor of his son who had a double mastectomy at the age of 17 and a friend who’s also battling the disease. The other first-timers who knew after mile one they’d be back next year – just like me and Sue.

We did it! 39.3 Miles!

We did it! 39.3 Miles!

The stories and the hometowns were different, but we all came together for the same purpose. To literally take steps toward wiping out a disease that affects far too many lives each year. At the closing ceremonies, while we celebrated the fact that the New York event raised seven-point-one million dollars, we were also presented with the sad reality that while we walked, another 150 people lost their lives to breast cancer over the weekend. But as the survivors walked into the ceremony site, their spirit reminded us that we can’t give up the fight against breast cancer. Their determination, matched with the challenge of finishing a 39-mile journey taught me we are all stronger than we think.

Gaels for Life!

Gaels for Life!

As many of you already know, I’ve wanted to walk the Walk since my mom beat breast cancer in 2008. Then this year, Sue and I learned we had a common source of motivation as one of our classmates is now waging her own war against the disease. On Sunday afternoon, Liz joined us at the closing ceremonies and we all agreed we couldn’t wait to start planning our next walk when she would join us as a survivor.

I write this post realizing I’ve probably never been this sore or tired in my life, but I also realize I’ve also never felt so exhilarated. There is something amazing about pushing your body to the limit with the help of sheer determination stemming from something close to your heart. Once again, I want to thank all my friends and family who made a donation and helped me get to the starting line and whose faith kept me pushing through to the end. Please know these are only a few of dozens of great images I captured over the weekend. If you’re following me on Facebook, be sure to check my page for the complete Avon Walk album to be posted soon! (And if you aren’t following me there yet, now’s the time to do it!)

IMG_4541If you’ve been thinking about joining the Avon Walk or other similar efforts to take up the fight against a disease that’s hit close to home, get out there and do it! Putting your best foot forward – literally – is probably one of the most empowering ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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Bring on October!

Thanks to the Generous Spirit of Friends Like Marianna - Who Made This Pin! - This October Will Be Unforgettable!

Thanks to the Generous Spirit of Friends Like Marianna – Who Made This Pin – It Will Be an Unforgettable October!

It feels like I blinked and found myself at the last Motivation Monday of September. That means we’re only two days away from the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I couldn’t think of a better time to remind everyone about one of the many reasons to make exercise a part of your life.

You probably already know about some of the major benefits of exercise:

  • Controls weight
  • Boosts energy
  • Improves your mood
  • Promotes better sleep

In case you need another reason to get moving, according to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, there is also strong evidence that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer.

As many of you repeat readers already know, my mom is a breast cancer survivor. Because she has always been adamant about keeping up with her health screenings, the doctors detected the cancer early and she beat it. A few months ago, I learned about two women in my age group who joined the more than 230,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the end of 2014. Because of my mom, my peers and the countless other stories I’ve heard about people being affected by breast cancer, I decided to put my best foot forward and try to do my own small part to fight the disease. Thanks to the generosity of my family and friends, I am exactly 19 days away from doing just that!

I’m happy to report I’ve met the $1,800 minimum donation mark to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer here in New York City. I can’t wait to join my St. Mary’s High School classmate, Sue, and thousands of others for a 39-mile walk the weekend of October 18th. While I’ve raised what I need to walk the Walk, it isn’t too late to make a donation. Please click on the link below to find my personal page where you can help us top last year’s New York donations of $6.7 million.

http://info.avonfoundation.org/site/TR/Walk/NewYork?px=7671099&pg=personal&fr_id=2366

I close with some very important thank yous. First, I’m grateful for the people who always have my back – not only in my efforts to join the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, but for all the other adventures I’ve taken on since starting this blog three years ago. Last but certainly not least, I want to thank my mom. Her 2008 diagnosis made me want to learn all I could about reducing my own risk and taking care of myself in general. To that end, exercise has been a key component for my own well-being while giving me the energy to be concerned about the well-being of others.

If you’ve been looking for a time to turn your take-care-of-you goals into reality, here’s your chance. Make this Breast Cancer Awareness Month your time to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Help Me Walk the Walk

One of my Favorite Pictures with Mom

One of my Favorite Pictures with Mom

On this Motivation Monday, I find myself 54 days away from an event I’ve wanted to participate in for years.  I’ve committed to take part in the 2014 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer here in New York City. The two-day event takes place October 18th and 19th. Thousands of people will walk 39.3 miles to help fund life-saving research, education and advocacy programs.

I’ve wanted to participate in the Avon Walk ever since my Mom’s diagnosis back in 2008. She beat breast cancer, and I know thanks to other events like this, more people will, too. Within the past few months, I learned of two young women – one in my high school class, another in my fitness circle – who are now waging their own war against breast cancer. So I decided it was time to stop talking about joining the fight against the disease and start walking!

However, I can’t do any of this without some help. In order to join in the Avon Walk, I have to raise $1,800. Your generous donations will help make that possible. Please click on the the link below to visit my personal page at the Avon Breast Cancer Walk website. While I hope to raise more than the minimum, I’ll take all the support I can get!

http://info.avonfoundation.org/site/TR/Walk/NewYork?px=7671099&pg=personal&fr_id=2366

While I’ve Zumba-d my bootie off for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and donated to other charities, I’ve never done anything on this scale before. It’s a wonderful way to use my love for physical activity for a good cause and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I look forward to walking with Sue, a fellow Gael from St. Mary’s High School Class of 1991, and thousands of others as we strive to top last year’s New York donations of $6.7 million.

I close with a big thank you for your support on this new adventure. For all of you who follow me on social media, I appreciate any likes, shares and double-taps you can offer on those channels, too!  I look forward to sharing more about an experience that will hopefully help more people on their journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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