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My Project Runway Experience

Tim Gunn: The Classiest of Class Acts!

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.

Day One of Filming at Gleason’s Gym with Tim Gunn and Evy DeAngelis

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.

My New Warrior “Sisters” (Left to Right): Michelle, Ivanna, Me, Donna, Tawana, Linda & Anita

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!

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Avon39 Boston

An Emotional Finish

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.

A Toast to the End of Day One! (Thank You, Eileen!)

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.

One of Many Welcoming Neighborhood Gestures

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.

This 8-Year Survivor Danced with Walkers At Many Stops

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!

Pulling Out All the Stops

Thanks for all the support along my training walks!

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!

 

 

Avon39 2016

Sue, Molly, Me, Liz & Lori Earn our 39!

“Troll Sisters” Forever!

While doing the same thing over and over again can sometimes lead to boredom, I guarantee walking 39.3 miles in the fight against breast cancer is not one of them.

fullsizerender-2As I sit here on this Sunday night covered in sports cream and fighting to stay awake after completing my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, I hope you’ll forgive this somewhat simplistic but heartfelt Motivation Monday post. I offer two lists that sum up my emotions another unforgettable weekend here in New York City.

What I’m Thankful For:

  • My mom is now an eight-year survivor.
  • My generous supporters who got me to the starting line.
  • Joining my friend Sue for our third Avon39 Walk together.
  • Adding Molly, another St. Mary’s Gael, to this year’s experience.
  • The birth of two new friendships with Liz, a survivor; and Lori, Liz’s friend who flew in from Dallas.
  • The fun “hairstyle” Sue created for all of us, quickly transforming us into the fierce five unofficially known as “Team Troll.”
  • Seeing countless survivor t-shirts and pins along the walk.
  • Meeting so many people with unstoppable strength and determination, including Mike, whose 39.3-mile journey in Manhattan marked his 100th Avon39 walk to date.
  • The Avon39 crew members who kept us safe and cheered for us along 26.2 miles on Saturday and 13.1 on Sunday.
  • The strangers who took some time out of their weekend to stand on a street corner and offer a high-five of support.
Gaels Forever! Liz comes out to cheer us on.

Gaels Forever! Liz comes out to cheer us on.

What I Hope For:

  • To see even more survivors, including another high school gal pal Elizabeth, on next year’s walk.
  • To see more New Yorkers out on the streets on future walk weekends showing the pink warriors some love.
  • That one day in my Goddaughters’ lifetimes, we won’t have to ever walk again.

I wrap things up with a huge thank you to everyone who generously supported my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. Because of you I threw a  5,175-dollar punch in the fight against breast cancer, making this my biggest fundraising year yet. Please know that money will be used to support organizations that help men and women, regardless of their ability to pay, receive the medical care they need. I also want to thank everyone for your encouraging emails and texts and all those who liked or shared my social media posts documenting my preparation for the journey right through the weekends’ highs. I simply couldn’t have done any of this without an amazing team behind me. If you’d like to see even more fun photos from the weekend, you’ll find them on my LauraLovesFitness Facebook page.

The Trolls with 100-Walk Mike!

The Trolls with 100-Walk Mike!

If you’ve been thinking about being a part of Avon39 or other activities to wage war against a disease that remains the number one cancer killer of women, now’s the time to 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!

Avon39 NYC 2015

IMG_0279Is it possible to feel absolutely exhausted yet completely exhilarated at the same time? Absolutely! All you need is a weekend and a goal to walk 39.3 miles in the fight against breast cancer.

As I sit here on this Sunday evening slathered in sports cream, I feel beyond blessed to have completed my second Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City. I’m thankful I could join my fellow St. Mary’s High School Gael, Sue, for our second journey together and equally elated we could add Christine, Stephanie and Lisa to this year’s pink warrior adventure. While each of us walked for relatives and friends touched by the disease that remains the number one cancer killer of women in the United States, we also teamed up on behalf of an organization aimed at improving the quality of life for those living with breast cancer and their families.

At the You Can Thrive! Cheering Station

At the You Can Thrive! Cheering Station

You Can Thrive! offers free and low-cost support services and long-term prevention and survivorship tools for breast cancer survivors. This includes everything from acupuncture to massage to nutritional education and to peer support. Sue and I learned about the foundation thanks to the group’s volunteers who have helped our fellow Gael pal, Elizabeth, who is still waging her own war against breast cancer. Being greeted by You Can Thrive! volunteers and many survivors with hugs, pom-poms and loud hoorahs at their cheering station one mile from the finish line was in a word, overwhelming.

IMG_0291When our fierce team of five finally crossed the finish, we did so hand-in-hand and tears immediately filled my eyes. I was bombarded by a flood of visions from the two-day trek: the woman wearing a pink cape covered with too many ribbons  showcasing the names of those she’s lost to breast cancer since she her first Avon walk 11 years ago; the volunteer firefighter wearing full gear for the entire Walk; the woman who completed the journey with help from an amazing support group who not only pushed her wheelchair around the city streets, but even carried it up the stairs to the Manhattan Bridge; and the survivors – young and old – proudly wearing sashes and smiles. I thought of my own mom, now a seven-year survivor. I thought of Elizabeth, and how much I want her to join us in this journey next year. Finally, I thought about how wonderful it will be when we don’t have to have to walk ever again.

IMG_0225

With Dale Emmerich, “Cancerfighter”

I end with a huge thank you to everyone who generously supported my journey. Thanks to you, I raised more money than last year, reaching $3860. I also want to thank all of you who sent supportive emails and texts or liked and shared my social media posts documenting everything from my preparation for the journey to the weekend milestones. I couldn’t have done this without an amazing team effort! If you’ve been thinking about being a part of Avon39 or other activities to wage war 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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