When I signed up for my first Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer back in 2014, I had no idea it would lead to meeting one of my favorite TV personalities and fashion gurus.
If you tuned in to last week’s episode of Project Runway, you may have caught a glimpse of me and some amazing women sporting pink boxing gloves flanking Tim Gunn in the ring at Gleason’s gym in Brooklyn. I was honored to be selected to be a part of this group assembled to serve as inspiration in the “Avon Warrior Challenge.” The remaining contestants -and viewers around the country, listened to Avon’s Executive Director of Sales Development Evy DeAngelis (there’s a chance we could be distant cousins!) describe the company’s mission of improving the lives of women globally and its long history of fighting breast cancer through the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Next, we heard from fierce survivors Michelle Ward and Tawana Lyles as they each described their personal battle with breast cancer. The forever-gracious Tim then instructed the designers to use this information as inspiration to create designs showcasing the warrior spirit.
As a producer who knows all too well how much footage ends up on the cutting room floor, I thought I’d give a few more details about Avon’s background in the fight against breast cancer. Since 1992, the Breast Cancer Crusade has donated more than $800 million to breast cancer causes, educated millions and has funded breast health screenings for nearly 20 million women. Some of the funds are raised through Avon 39 Walks around the country. As my repeat readers know, I’ve made some incredible memories on four Avon walks to date and I don’t plan on stopping until we wipe out this disease once and for all. Click here to learn more about the Crusade and to learn more about Michelle, Tawana and the other “warriors” featured in this special episode – Anita Shivraj, Linda Montavon, Ivanna Diaz-Hansen and Donna Reid-Mitchell.
I close this Motivation Monday post with a thank you to Avon for asking me to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience and for giving me the opportunity to meet an amazing group of fierce, fabulous women who I am lucky to call new, lifelong friends. I also want to thank everyone who shared in my excitement leading up to the show; those who took the time to send an email, text or leave a kind comment on my social media pages afterward and to the special group of friends who watched the episode with me. I am already looking forward to my next Avon Walk in 2018…and here’s to the unexpected adventures ahead of all of us as we continue on this journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
While this isn’t the first time I’m writing a Motivation Monday post about the Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, it is the first time I’m writing about it from a train.
On this Sunday night, I’m making my way back to New York City from Boston just hours after completing my fourth Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. It was the first time my friend Sue and I ventured outside our home state for the 39.3-mile journey. As I sit here next to James, my boyfriend and best cheerleader, with lactic acid attacking my muscles, I feel exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.
The mission behind the weekend-long journey remained the same: raising money for the fight against breast cancer in the hopes that one day, it will be just one more disease future generations only read about in history books. However, I never imagined how walking the Walk in a different city would open the door to so many amazing moments.
The main reason behind those moments were the people of Boston. As a die-hard Yankees fan, many of my previous encounters with Bostonians have happened thanks to some contentious baseball games and interesting post-seasons. So, it was truly heartwarming to hear the cheers and honking horns of these same people encouraging warriors from 36 states as we walked through the rainy city streets on Saturday morning.
Later that day when the sun came out, and again today when the humidity finally disappeared, the route took us through several lovely surrounding towns including Roxbury, Readville, Canton and Milton. That’s where cheers and high-fives could be found on many street corners and where homeowners offered everything from cold water and candy to a spritz from a garden hose or front- lawn sprinkler. Families set up tables with goodies outside their front doors, and kids of all ages made signs covered with words of encouragement.
That support – along with help from the Avon39 crew who offered everything from safe passage at busy intersections to peanut butter snacks, blister triage and all the ice cubes you could want – made conquering each mile more manageable. Of course, getting hugs along the route from James, along with my cousin Claire and gal pals Eileen and Connie made the journey even more memorable.
Then there was the finish on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Carson Beach. While I’ve shed several tears crossing the finish line before, this was the most emotional finale yet. I felt a surge of happiness knowing this marks my mom’s ninth year as a survivor, but I was also overwhelmed by sadness thinking of our friend Liz who lost her brave battle with breast cancer last November. The last time we saw Liz was along the route of the New York City Walk less than one month earlier. I cried because I miss her, but also because I knew she was with Sue and me every step of every mile in Boston, just like she’d always been since our first Walk in 2014. Liz’s warrior spirit will continue to motivate me on all my future Avon39 Walks – and all the journeys in this roller coaster called life.
So I close with a thank you to all the warriors out there who inspire me everyday. Those we’ve lost their battle; those who beat it and those who continue to fight the biggest fight of their lives. I also want to thank all the friends and family who joined in the battle against breast cancer. Your generous donations made my first Avon39 Walk in Boston possible and were part of the total 2.9-million dollars raised by all those involved in this event. That money will help fund cancer research; treatment and preventive screenings and help patients cover the costs of everyday needs including childcare during chemotherapy; rides to medical appointments and meals for patients and their families. It’s amazing what we can accomplish together on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
We made it to the first Motivation Monday of June! It’s hard to believe we’re quickly marching toward the halfway mark of 2017. What’s even harder for my brain to comprehend is at this time in three weeks, I’ll be recovering from the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer in Boston.
As the days leading up to the weekend-long, 39.3-mile journey wind down, I’m pulling out all the stops and asking more of my wonderful readers to join the fight against this devastating disease. Every two minutes, someone in America is diagnosed with breast cancer. As most of you know, my mom was one of them. So was my dear high school friend, Liz. My mom beat the disease, but sadly, Liz did not. We lost Liz less than one month after the New York City Walk last October. A true warrior to the end, Liz’s spirit will no doubt guide me and my friend Sue as we take to the Boston streets for our fourth Avon 39 experience together.
While the ultimate goal of Avon 39 is to wipe breast cancer from the face of the earth, funds raised will immediately assist the local and national organizations that help women and men – regardless of their ability to pay- get the care they need. These programs provide everything from food and financial help to transportation and childcare assistance for patients going to treatment sessions.
I’m beyond grateful to the family and friends who’ve donated so far. Thanks to your generous spirit, I’m on the verge of breaking the $5,000 mark. For anyone who’s put off donating until later, well, later is now. It takes just a few dollars and a few minutes to make a difference. All you have to do is click here and you’ll be taken to my fundraising page. If you happen to live in the Boston area, I also hope you’ll consider supporting Sue, me and all the other pink warriors from the sidelines. A few cheers and high-fives can really make a difference!
Thank you again for all the support here and on my social media channels. It’s another reminder about the power of teamwork when it comes to our efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!