Five fifteen the next morning came early and this was much like my labor with Jacob. The excitement of the impending day far outweighed the almost sleepless nights. The drive to the beach was barely worth mentioning except for when we headed over Sand Key Bridge, and once again the 3-Day Opening Ceremony was in view. Since the sun hadn’t fully lit the sky, this time the surrounding area had a beautiful pink glow.
After dropping off our bags at the gear truck, we mentioned there was no turning back and headed toward the pink globes. We took several photos before the Opening Ceremony sign and set our goal. Michele and I also stopped to sign the memory ribbons. Although we are walking in memory and honor of so many beautiful women who have fought the courageous battle, Trudy Runnels and Vickie Barber both lost their battles this year, and we dedicated this part of the journey to them and their families. At this point, Michele and I started the eye fanning, which was code crying.
We then staked out our spot for Opening Ceremony. We were soon joined by veteran walkers, Julie and Tracey, who Michele had walked with on training walks. After introductions, Julie gave mom the nickname of “Queen Rose.”
It wasn’t too long after this and opening ceremony got underway. If I had to recite what was said, I honestly can’t tell you because it all seems so surreal. However, the theme was why we are walking. We are walking because EVERYONE DESERVES A :LIFETIME; hence, we walk so we can share with loved ones the important milestones: birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, etc…and these milestones were displayed on flags that flag bearers carried into the ceremony, including a bearer being escorted by a beautiful bald lady.
We also walk because of those who have touched our hearts and have given us the inspiration to do something as bold as walking 60 miles over 3 days. My lists includes my mom, Anita, Savonda, Aunt Marian, Ramie, the ladies from the airport, the beautiful bald lady, etc.... Flag bearers again honored the people we walk for: Mother, Grandmother, Aunt, Friend, Wife, Husband, Children, Daughter, Heroes, Families, etc...
At this point the tear fan didn’t do any good because as I stood next to mom, the tears freely flowed for the fight she gave, so we can share milestones in life. The flag bearers entrance was followed by the remembrance of those who are no longer with us to share in the milestones of life. It was then I thought of my husband and how he hasn’t be able to share milestones with his mom Barbara since she had lost her battle with ovarian cancer years before we had met. I also thought of Aunt Sue’s granddaughter Darby who recently lost her battle with colon cancer. While these thoughts were running through my head, a survivor entered the circle in the middle of the stage and raised the memorial ribbons. Sadly, the lady raising the ribbons only has months left share these milestones with her loved ones.
We then honored our heroes who have battled the cancer beast by saying their name aloud. I can still hear the echoes of the names. This was followed by survivors carrying flags to represent what they endured while battling breast cancer: Strength, Hope, Courage,Love, Patience, Optimism, etc... The survivors in the circle would also be walking on this 3-Day journey, and again, we were back to why we were walking ~ the living proof that we are one day closer to the end of breast cancer. And the survivors led us on this 3-day 60 mile journey...