I'm finally recovered from the emotional, inspirational, exhausting, uplifting, exciting, wonderful, hard, incredible weekend at the Breast Cancer 3-Day. Nobody can ever know the impact of this event until you participate in, or crew for, the 3-Day. It is mind blowing. My best friend Sarah and I walked in the 2004 3-Day in DC. What an amazing time that was. Through all the painful cramps, blisters, popping knees and just pure exhaustion, we truly embraced the meaning of why we were there and really cherished every moment. So much, that Sarah and Greg (now her husband) decided to be a part of the Crew at the 2005 3-Day in Philly. They were in charge of route hydration. This means driving a truck throughout the route each day dropping off water and Gatorade and carrying extras to and from each stop. LOTS of work.
When we heard the 3-Day was coming back to DC, we really didn't blink an eye! We knew we wanted to be a part of it. So, the four of us signed up as Team Newlyweds. There's still time to donate!!
We found out earlier this year that we would be a part of a Pit Stop Crew. We couldn't have been happier! This was our first choice. There are usually 5-6 pit stops along the 20 mile course each day. These stops allow the walkers to take a break to use the bathroom, fill up on water/Gatorade, load up on food (chips, pretzels, peanuts, animal crackers, raisins, bananas, oranges, UNCRUSTABLES, bagels w/ cream cheese, and STRING CHEESE).
The 3-Day actually was a 4-Day for the Crew. We had to attend Crew Day on Thursday, October 2nd. This year, the walk began at Potomac Mills Mall. Thursday we learned all about what the weekend would entail. From meeting the rest of our crew, to communications equipment, to Western Shelter assembly - (more about this one later). We got there around 12:45 to sign in and collect our credentials and crew shirts for the weekend, then attended the various meetings and sessions to learn everything about the weekend. Our crew turned out to be a little short handed. We were supposed to have 12 people on our crew but 4 people did not show up. This was a little upsetting, but we were able to bond together very quickly and we knew we would just have to work harder.
After all the festivities, we were released and went to Pizzeria Uno for our "last supper".
We got to the mall in time to stand around for a few, gather our Crew (two of which went to the NKOTB concert the night before.....maybe they saw my sister!). We dropped our bags at the crew truck so they would make their way to the campsite that day. We found our van and Lee went to get the keys so we could start loading up all our decorations for the day's pit stop.
(some people definitely did not obey this sign!)
We picked up our bagged lunches for the day and headed out to our first pit stop location. Friday's location was in a Safeway parking lot off Minnieville Road. We realized on our way there that we were passing right by my former boss's house! (HI ROGER) We arrived at the pit stop location around 5:30 AM and began unloading our Pit Can to start setting up.
Elisha putting a sign in the porta john for Potto Lotto - this is a game we were never able to play because we were so short staffed. Basically, there were 15 sports figures taped to the inside of the porta johns (basketball for Friday, baseball for Saturday, and football for Sunday). The walker would pick a card out of a stack and head into the john, if the card he/she picked matched the picture on the inside of the john, they would win a prize (candy).
We were almost finished with setup when our first walker came through the Pit Stop. She was walking FAST! Following her was another group of folks who were definitely in a hurry. In this group was a teacher that my mom works with (HI JOSH). Anyway, we had to hold these walkers until the Pit Stop officially opened so we could make sure the safety crews were in place before allowing them to get on the road. Once the stop opened, we released them and I was able to head down to the food tent to help Sarah and Sarah. The two Sarahs were handing out fruit and bagels to the walkers while I kept restocking the other boxes of food. Everything was going so fast, so I was constantly opening boxes and refilling the ones on the tables. There were roughly 3,000 walkers coming through the stop and they were all HUNGRY! While we were manning this tent, Lee, Cheri and Greg were manning the hydration tent. They had to prep about 3 dozen gallons of Gatorade and 6 coolers of water before the walkers arrived. Once they all started coming in, it was NONSTOP action! Elisha, on of our other crew members was up at the entrance taking a walker count. What a job she did! She managed to count every single walker that came in, all while talking to them and keeping their spirits up. Great job Lish! After all the walkers came through, we had to break everything down and wait for the Litter Bugs to come pick up the trash, the hydration truck to pick up the extra water and Gatorade, and we had to load the Pit Can. After that was all completed, we grabbed our bagged lunches, hopped in the van, and headed to the lunch pit stop to help out there. We ate on the way and arrived to give them a hand. We each grabbed either a trash bag or Gatorade/water and walked around topping people's bottles off or gathering their trash. We even had time to pose for a team picture!
We were there for an hour before heading to our campsite to get settled in there. When we arrived, we picked up our bags and tents and headed to our designated tent location to setup camp. We decided to walk around camp and help others put their tents up. The last thing you want to do after walking 20 miles is put up a tent, so we were there to help.
When we were finished putting up about 30 tents or so, we headed to the New Balance tent to play some BINGO!
After BINGO, Sarah and I took a walk over to the Remembrance Tent. This is an enclosed area that has a white tent setup inside with a pink ribbon draped over it for Washington DC. Inside the main tent, there are pictures of people who previously had walked or crewed who passed away. The smaller tent was there for people to write messages on. Outside of the main tent were the other tents from other cities. One of the pictures hanging was of a girl who was only 24, was registered to walk in the DC walk, who passed away in June. This one really got to me.
After we wiped away a few tears, we exited the tent and headed over to the rest of the Crew so we could grab dinner!
After we ate, we headed back to our tents to grab our shower stuff. We headed to the wonderful mobile trailer showers to get clean! Good times!
After showering, we headed back over to the dining tent for the night's festivities. The master of ceremonies, who reminded us all of Ellen Degeneres, talked about the top fund raisers, the biggest teams, the people who have walked the most, etc..... They also had a Rock Star (karaoke contest) along with other stuff. While we all sat there, the last walkers of the day were coming through. Everybody got up, headed to the camp flag pole and watched two girls walk in (HULA HOOPING THE WHOLE 20 MILES) These two girls do hula hoop therapy for cancer patients and literally hula hooped the entire 20 miles on the first day. So, they came in last and raised the 3-Day flag to end Day 1 of the 3-Day. What a day!! Off to our tents!
The first night of camping was a little rough. The woman right next to us was snoring so loudly that we couldn't sleep. Also, it was a TAD cold so I couldn't sleep at all. Other than that, 4:30 came and it was time to start Day 2!
We got ready and headed to the dining tent for breakfast and to meet up with the rest of our Crew. We ate and waited and waited and waited and waited for out Crew Captain to show up. We waited too long and just headed over to our van to see if she was there, nope! So, we got in the van and talked to the Road Coach who tried to call her on her walkie and nextel. NOPE! They finally got in touch with her husband who said "her alarm didn't go off". Yeah, sure! Anyway, we waited about 10 more minutes for her to arrive then headed to our location for Day 2. When we arrived, our fearless leader, Ann Marie, was there waiting for us so we could get started. However, our Pit Can, food, and ice had not arrived yet, so we just started our decorating for the day. Finally, all the trucks showed up and we started the whole unloading routine all over again. We set up all the Western Shelters, prepared all the food, prepared all the water and Gatorade and waited for the walkers! They started coming in slowly then the mass chaos began! We were running out of food left and right and had to ration what we had so that the later walkers would get to eat! Finally, some relief came and food was brought to us from an earlier stop. Whew! Here are some pictures from our "Baseball Day".
Once the last walker came and left Pit Stop 2 on Day 2, we broke down camp as usual and went to grab our lunches, which had been sitting out in the sun all day.....so, a decision was made to go grab some food before heading to our next location - TBD at a later time. We ended up at Fireside Grill in Lorton. Good food and great new friends!
We hopped back in the van after our little break and gave the Road Coach a call to see if we needed to head to another location to help out. Turns out, we were good to go! So, we headed back to camp to settle in for the afternoon/evening.
We headed to the dining tent and grabbed food and sat at our table to just chit chat and eat. After a while, and a wonderful dance party, we headed to bed. Elisha, who lives in Arlington, was able to get her boyfriend to bring an extra comforter for Lee and I to use on Night 2. THANK GOODNESS!! It was much appreciated!
Day 3 began at the same time, 4:30. We got up, got dressed, headed to the dining tent, had breakfast, walked to the van, and headed to our Day 3 location. Today we were lucky to be at a school where they had a large awning. We didn't have to put up the Western Shelters today!! YIPPEE!!! Those suckers take 8 people to put up and 8 people to take down. Given that we only had 8 on our Crew, we were pretty sick of those things! Anyway, we set up and waited for the day to begin. Day 3 was much like Day 2 with the food running out and having to ration. Also, for some reason, Arlington County (where we were for Day 3) has some regulation against knives. So, we couldn't cut anything in the food tent that day. So, whole bananas and whole oranges were given out. Therefore, we ran out of bananas REALLY fast. The previous two days, we quartered the oranges and halved the bananas. Oh well! We had to do what we had to do! At least we didn't have to put those shelters up! Here are some pictures from Day 3!
One of the favorite signs of the weekend (great job Sarah F. and Elisha)
Another favorite - lots of walkers taking pictures of the signs (great job Sarah W.)
Greg and Sarah with the Litter Bugs - these girls were SO wonderful all weekend.
Our fearless leader, the WONDERFUL Ann Marie
Lee taking a little break after we closed down the Pit Stop
The mark we left on the inside of our Pit Can at the end of Day 3
A perfectly packed Pit Can!
Lee closing the Pit Can for the LAST TIME
After leaving our Pit Stop on Day 3, we headed to the lunch stop to help them tear down. So, we DID have to deal with the Western Shelters! We helped them carry out trash, break down boxes, load up gatorade and water to bring further down the line, and take down 4 shelters.
After we helped there, we headed to closing ceremonies. This was the most emotional part of the whole weekend. Words cannot describe.
One shoe salute to the survivors....why we walk and crew
Survivors all walking in
Closing ceremonies - raising the flag to end the walk