If you have never experienced the sensation that happens around the first weekend of June in Chicago, you are truly missing out! Residents and visitors alike all get into the groove. A stream of emotion flows in and around Lake Michigan as a few thousand walkers all head down the path for a very noteworthy cause.
As the group makes their way along the vast Lake Michigan shoreline, past stunning architecture, down the shopping mecca, the Magnificent Mile and through vast vibrant neighborhoods, brandishing well-supportive shoes and a great deal of pink gear, if you listen closely enough you will hear them. You will hear the stories; share in the love, the laughter and the tears.
If you know them, you can join in on the celebratory songs, pray the prayers, or offer up your own. These people, women and men, young and old alike, are all walking for a common purpose – to bring an end to breast cancer!
The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer takes place in several locations. For the past decade or more, one key location has been Chicago. This year that two-day walk will take place May 31st through June 1st.
Walkers begin their day early, before the heat, at Soldier Field. Their destination for the evening will be a mere marathon from where they start to Horner Park. The next day, Sunday, the route will alter and walkers that continue on for the second day will only walk another half marathon back to Soldier Field where each time a walker emits from the final gates cheers will erupt and the emotions begin again.
The very first time that I completed the walk, it was with six other friends; only three of our seven made the entire walk….39.3 miles. The reason we all fundraised and dedicated our bodies to the cause was for one very special friend that ended her journey a short time before we began ours.
Our friends name was Lynn and at a very young age she contracted this horrific disease. She fought through her path and just as she and her husband Steve were to be married, cancer knocked again and this time, only days after the wedding which took place in a hospital room, Lynn succumbed to the illness and breathed her last.
In her honor, Steve took her with us in spirit and led us on our own path; grateful for the companionship, yet sorry for their loss. The next year only three of us met back up, but once again we fulfilled the mission and volunteered the weekend for this great cause.
I actually did the walk a third time, only about six months after I had a pacemaker/defibrillator installed in my chest because of a rare heart condition. Charity and fundraising are much more beneficial when you take away fright from your own life!
I will always cherish the times that I had; looking over the vast sea of blue tents, showering in makeshift portable showers, eating fruit and nuts along a journey of discovery. The stories will stay with me as my life progresses. I may join the crowds again in the future, but for now will support all of those that seek me out and remember Lynn as I do so.
Since those times, I have lost even more people to the disease. It would be nice to find the cure. Hopefully someday you, too, will discover yourself while helping the masses. As Chicago comes alive, others will be able to fight to live!