Skimble guest writer, Ariana Vanrenen:
This past weekend, July 9-10, I walked a total of 41.9 miles for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer SF with my best friend Ariana and boyfriend Sameer. We woke at 5am on Sat to get to Fort Mason for opening ceremonies and began the walk at 7am, along with 2,000 other walkers. For the next 10 hours we walked through San Francisco all the way up to Corte Madera in Marin county — a total of 26.2 miles, a full marathon!We signed up for the walk way back in December – when Sameer suggested we go to an introductory meeting where we ended up registering for the walk. We all decided to do it in memory of my mom, who died of breast cancer when I was 9, and to honor Ariana’s Aunt Karen, who is a survivor. For all of us, breast cancer was something that hit close to home and a cause that we wanted to be involved in.
On Saturday, the day and miles went much quicker than we had imagined, with the support of others walking with us, cheering stations along the way, as well as rest stops with water, snacks and lovely porta-potties. However, around mile 20, we started to slow down a bit as walkers spread out more and pain began to set into our feet, shins and knees. Yet, we continued on and were eventually greeted by a field of cheerers and bright pink tents at the Wellness Village in Corte Madera. It reminded Ariana and I of Harry Potter’s visit to the Quidditch World Cup, but without the fabulous magical tents ;p
After camping out in the Wellness Village for the night, we began again at 7am to walk the remaining 15.7 miles. The second day had the option of doing a half marathon and taking a bus, or adding a few extra miles to walk directly to the finish line at Fort Mason. We decided to finish strong and walk all the way to the finish line – where we had friends and Skimble family waiting for us!
The entire Avon event was very well organized, from the rest stops that provided us with fuel to continue, to the cheering vans blasting music and helping us to keep walking (or dancing…), to the meals provided by Project Open Hand at the Wellness Village.
Walking almost 42 miles was a challenge to say the least – the time and strain on your body definitely was both physically and mentally enduring. However, it was for a great cause and the weekend helped us to feel connected to a sea of strangers supporting the same cause while remembering the ones we have lost (my mom) and the ones that we still have (Aunt Karen). It felt great to be a part of that community. For me, it was also much more. It was a time to remember my mom in a setting where it’s ok to cry and it’s ok to be moved by other people’s stories of loss or hope – and where I have the time to do this without worrying about work or my busy schedule. I could never have done it without the support of Ariana and Sameer at my side, having them there made it amazing beyond words.
After such a positive experience, we want to continue to be involved with the Avon Walk. Next year, we are planning to volunteer for the San Francisco walk and hopefully the following year we can travel to a new city to participate in the walk. Think about something you feel strongly about, it will bring you strength and courage at your toughest of hours!