It was most definitely time to slow down and take my time. I had the past two walks been running with the rabbits to get done sooner for a myriad of reasons, but the only thing with going fast is you miss some of the wonderful people along the way. Arizona came along at the perfect time. It was the first event this year that I did have at least one person that was going to join me or stalk me along the route. I made the conscious decision to slow my roll and take in the environment and all of those around me. I have often met an angel or two in each city that have provided me with conversation and companionship on my journey, this walk was so different and wonderful. I was so lucky to have the problem of too many angels to count on my walk, each so kind, each with their own story. The flowers are simply a metaphor for the beautiful spirits that helped guide me along the path. To highlight one or two would have been unfair to others that touched me along my way this weekend. The diversity in the desert flowers mirrored the people I encountered, each with its own unique beauty. I am so glad that I slowed down and took more time to meet more of the amazing people that find a passion in helping others. Thank you Arizona for making this walk so memorable and in turn healing. I am also including a couple videos from my walk, first are the male singers from Arizona State, “Priority Male” , they came to the camp show on Friday and wowed the crowd. And then a short excerpt from a bagpipe corp that was on the route early Sunday. This was a little bitter sweet, I have always had an affection for the pipes, it’s a music that really just touches my soul. As I stood listening and recording I was suddenly struck with a wave of emotion, I felt Martha next to me, but I could not reach her. I stopped the recording and quickly walked away listening to the music as I tried to connect with my bride. She then answered back with another walking angel that helped to ease my pain and once again provide me with peace and hope. My finish on Sunday was very special because I was able to finish with two awesome ladies Rachel and Bobbi. I have seen them on other walks and had some small conversations, but had never had the chance to really get to know them. Rachel completed her journey this year of completing a walk in everyone one of the Komen cities. She may not have done it all in one year, but she did it just the same and I applaud her commitment. What a wonderful way to finish! I will never forget this walk, and the people that made it so special. Just one more to go, I cannot believe it is almost done. What an amazing journey.
The big “D” reached right up and gave me a good Texas kick in the ass! What a surprise this wonderful city delivered. After living here for 4 years to close out the 80′s, and then making regular business visits for the past 10 years I had become very complacent with what all Dallas had to offer. Well I should have known to never second guess the beauty, warmth, and hospitality that this city and it’s residents can provide. From the first day the community support along the route was so wonderful, we felt welcomed at every turn by true big as Texas kindness. Couple that with the awesome routes that the Komen team put together and you have a walk that I most certainly will return to someday. My added bonus was the stalkers that joined me for part of my journey. First on Friday I was blessed to be able to reconnect with a special friend and old neighbor Ann Maher. She greeted me in the parking lot at opening with a hug that brought about tears of all that has transpired for both of us for the past two years. My journey is well documented, but Ann’s journey was equally troubling. Two years ago her husband and my old golf buddy Bob was already fighting his own battle with cancer when they learned of Martha’s rediagnosis. Ann provided prayers of support from afar, but then just three months before Martha’s passing she learned that she had breast cancer. She wrote during this period so eloquently of the struggles for both her and Bob, but all she could do was pray for a life that she had cherished for years, my Martha. So as we hugged on the lot that early morning it was a release of sadness, joy, and hope. It was so wonderful to see her again. She walked with me till lunch and it helped to make my Friday so special.
But my Friday did not end there. That afternoon Martha delivered my first male walking angel since Chicago, Paul was just what the doctor ordered to lift my spirits with his stories of major animal encounters especially one with a bear that I will not soon forget. Thank you and god bless you sir! You are now an official “Walker Dude”! Just when I thought it could not get better, it did. Good friends from my Houston days were coming up for the night and to walk with me on Saturday. I knew it was a stretch that they may get to the camp show in time to see my video and the incredible response that I receive each week. So as they were getting ready for my part of the show I got a text saying that they were near, I just told them they could still try to get there but it a was a long shot. I then sat and watched the video the same as I do each week, and once again it moved me to tears. As I sat just after acknowledging the warmth of those in the tent that night I get a text saying “we’re here!”, I say “where” and the response is ” to your right”, I quickly turn my head to see my dear old friend Mark rise above all others with a smile that said “Shine, we are here and we saw” I immediately moved to hug these two beautiful Texans that have been a part of my life, our life, for over 30 years. It was never so wonderful to see Mark and Frances Stock. A Friday that I will never forget. The next day they joined me until lunch as we made our way through my old Carrollton stomping grounds. My sincerest thanks to them for making the trip to be a part of my journey, friends for life! I then took off and became the rabbit for most of the afternoon until I met up with Norm and Sheri for the final few miles, a great way to finish a Saturday, I love those guys ❤️. Sunday brought an awesome closing route! The beautiful neighborhoods of University and Highland Park, homes that would knock your socks off, then through downtown Dallas and a trip by the Old Book Depository which in a few weeks will mark a 50th anniversary, hard to believe. I want close out this Dallas blog with a mention and shout out to the amazing Komen staff, these incredibly dedicated caring individuals have woven themselves into the fiber of my heart. They have been so integral in my healing, I will be forever indebted to these amazing people. I still can’t believe it but even at number 12 for the year, it once again was a unique experience all unto itself. And even though I developed Strep throat after Tampa, I could continue to walk in these events each and every week , I am so blessed to have made this journey. Really, only two left….shoot 😢
I can most certainly kickoff this post of with the fact that weather wise, it does not get any better than Tampa this last weekend. Each day was picture perfect, 80 degrees, no humidity, plenty of sun, just plain awesome! I was an absentee teammate of a great group of folks known as the Pink Pearls. I really appreciated them including me, but I was a little selfish and walked fast each day so that I could be done early to enjoy the weather. Friday I was fortunate enough to walk with Mark Nadolny, the CFO for the entire Komen organization. He I had a little fun trying to be the “rabbit” (fastest finisher) and were doing well until we got caught in our conversation and did not realize there was no one around us, or even arrows to guide us until we were over quarter mile off course. By the time we recovered and found our way we had dropped from the top ten, to the 80′s! So we sucked it up, treated each pit like we were at the Indy 500, and finished number 25 and 26, better yet, it gave us at least 2 hours of beach time! My thanks to Mark for the great conversation and the insight into working in the non profit world. Once again it was the people that that I do not know that kept touching my heart again and again. At almost every pit stop someone on the crew would walk up to me and just give me a hug for what I am doing, the sincerity of it all always humbles me. Then on Sunday I was cleaning up after a porta potty break, to look over to see this petite walker looking at me with tears in her eyes. As I approached she came to me and told me she was a survivor and was so thankful for what I was doing. This is when I reach for the hug , first because of how this moves me, and secondly to let her know that she and all of the survivors are who inspire me everyday. It really is an amazing event that only a participant can understand what it’s about. Finally I want to thank Lisa, my walking angel from the Chicago 3-Day that came down to join me on the trail once again. Having her there helped make this weekend complete. Once again it is the people of the 3-Day community that make this event so special, I cannot ever imagine not doing one of these, but will still hope for a day when it is a reunion walk because the fight has been won!
I am finally able to catch my breath as I sit on my flight to Tampa for the next 60 mile adventure. Atlanta proved to be more than just a walk, more than just the streets, neighborhoods, and hills we made our way up over and through. It really was the people along my path that made this one so special. My first Angel was my friend Glen Dekeyser, a man who did all 14 events last year and joined me on Miles for Martha for this one. Glen entertained me the first day with his stories of past walks and some jokes that were just killing me! He even told Minnesota jokes better than this Minnesotan. Thank you Glen! On Saturday I am walking by a Metra station and look up to see a sea of signage for Miles for Martha, my wonderful friends the Stamms brought the whole clan out to cheer me on all clad in pink. So special to see them, and John I was proud of your hill climb, good job my friend 😊, Cyndi, the headgear was as the kids say, dope! The evening brought a chance to see Martha’s wonderful family as I was the guest of honor at my nieces new home. To see my sister in law, her two girls, their beautiful children and Martha’s mom and dad made this trip so worth it. The beautiful little Harper sported her new onesie honoring her amazing great aunt! Sunday the family team made their way onto the route for 8 miles at a pace that I was very impressed by, but more importantly it left us plenty of time to have a cocktail or two before heading to closing! This leads me to the close of this event, the close of my Atlanta adventure, but not without mentioning one more Angel. I once again was blessed with another one of Martha’s walking angels. As I walked on Saturday I came upon Carolyn, the leader of the number one fundraising team and quite a special soul. We only walked 6 miles together but she had the ability to make you feel you had known one another for years. She quickly opened me up and had me pulling emotions that only a few can extricate. It just proves to me that once again my bride knew I needed to talk to someone, and she picked the perfect person at the perfect time. Atlanta, I may not remember a street, a site, a landscape, but I will never forget those that crossed my path. Thank you all, and God Bless!
What a change from last week! Instead of clouds and driving rain we were treated to 70 degrees, blue skies, no wind, no humidity, in a word, perfect! I had the pleasure of spending me day with last years 14 city man, Glen Dekeyser. It was great to compare our experiences, and share our favorite moments. A highlight was walking upon these incredibly adorable pre schoolers that had come out to cheer us on. I could not resist sitting amongst them and feeling their little energies buzzing around us. It made me smile the rest of the day. It truly was a beautiful day ❤️
Well just when you think these walks may become routine, another city puts a definitive stamp on it. From an emotional opening, to the buckets of rain that fell, (3 inches on Friday alone!), to a government shutdown that changed our route significantly and moved our closing away from the Washington Monument. The entire 3 days were awesome! OK, a little crazy for me to say that considering Friday I should have been duck hunting or fly fishing, yet the opening ceremony added a wrinkle to my day that I could not shake. As I stood before the stage with my head bowed and the rain pouring over me, the music began to play. The music that let’s you know a solemn message is about to be delivered. I hear Dr. Sheri’s voice as she begins to say the words I have heard 8 times before, but this time I look down at my jacket. Coursing over my black raincoat are raindrop upon raindrop, running together and forming rivers as they make their way down to the pavement below. It then hits me, this is not rain covering me today, these are tears. Tears of sorrow for the lives that have been lost, tears of joy for another year added to survivors life, tears of compassion for all that are in the fight. I then add to this river flowing across my body, my own tears, for Martha, for my family and friends, for the joy of hugging another survivor, for the warmth of touching someone battling today. So as I made my way onto the trail Friday I never thought of it as rain, an obstacle, or an inconvenience. I had the keen sense that these were the tears of many saying thank you for being out there, for fighting for them, for not giving up. I got completely soaked, and it never felt so good. Top that off with visit from brother Bill, and him accompanying me to the camp show, my Friday will be one I remember for a lifetime.
But this 3-Day still had a lot to offer. Once again Martha delivered me two amazing walking angels in Eileen, and a survivor Nancy, awesome people. They were a part of team called “For 3 sisters”. This team was sadly formed by a Bethesda fireman that had lost three of his sisters to breast cancer in a three year period. This amazing man started a foundation to honor his sisters and raise money to fight this awful disease. Nancy and Eileen were from DC and were not only great tour guides, they were walking vets as well that wanted something other than Panera for lunch! So both days we made our way into a fine DC establishment for better fare, and a cocktail or two! Old Ebbitts Grill a DC landmark was my favorite. They of course took me under their wings and made me feel like a part of the team and on Sunday introduced me to Abby, Erick, and Mary Beth who all made my day special. Being with this team and the conversations that I had, I never even noticed the occasional shower, or that we were once again being routed around national park land. Each one of these wonderful walks gives me something that I will carry for a lifetime, thank you Washington DC, and my new teammates for a trail of tears, that led to pure joy!
I am late with this post but did not want to miss the chance to say what a great time I had at the Philadelphia 3-Day! The city on Sunday provided beauty, history, and Love! But what I will remember most is the time I got to spend with old friends from back home, and new friends from Seattle, Debbie, Cindy, and Stephanie, all members of a wonderful team from back in the Northwest. They honored Martha by adding her name as the 100th ribbon to their tutu’s, a gesture that the Shinar family will never forget. From the school kids on Friday to my buddies from the Youth Core to having the Scannells join me for another 15, it was a great 3 days. I hated to say goodbye to my Cleavage, but I will say, see you in Seattle 2014!