This weekend is my first Arthritis Foundation Walk of the season. It's a 5k to raise money and awareness of the hundreds of different Arthritis related illnesses out there. This walk will take place in my parent's home town and my Dad is walking with me. We are also going to try to bring Auggie on the walk as well. Mom's going to have to go too so that if he doesn't behave we can hand him off to her :-)
I have been participating in charity walks since 2004. My first four walks were for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I lost my beloved Granny to Breast Cancer in a round about way. She went in for a routine lumpectomy and did not survive the operation. The following year was my first walk. I didn't know what to expect- and I was scared of the fundraising minimum (1800 per person) and not even remotely positive that as an overweight, 30 something smoker I would even be able to finish the whole 26.1 miles- but I was determined to do it in her memory. But I did . I raised the money, I walked the WHOLE walk and- I did it middle of the pack. The event itself was emotional, it was inspiring and my accomplishment made me feel like I could take on the world- bruises and blisters not withstanding. After the first walk- I had to do it again. Over the course of four walks I (with a lot of help from generous friends) raised over $10,000, I walked 104.4 miles (not including training) and that sea of pink raised a LOT of money and awareness. My third and fourth walks were after I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It made it tougher- but I was determined to persevere. I packed thermacare, I used a LOT of ice and I took advantage of the yoga sessions and massage on the overnights.
Since I moved out here- I am nowhere near the Avon Walks. The closest one is Chicago and that is 8-10 hours away. Because I love doing the walks in general- I have turned my attentions closer to home to the Arthritis Foundation. I choose to do two walks each season- one in Evansville- one in Louisville. I figure that I am capable of doubling my efforts and getting the word out about my disease on both sides of the state.
I think that the reason that I walk is that it is something that I can do to make a difference. Maybe not to one person- but I have, as a result of my fundraising efforts, had people ask me about my disease and have been able to educate them. That means a lot to me. And so- I will keep walking as long as I can. Who knows- maybe I will even start doing two year fundraisers so I can go back to Avon every other year or so and walk Boston or Chicago. All I know is that as long as my body lets me- you will see me out there getting the word out about these two wonderful foundations and these horrible diseases.