Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Walker Stalking

If you’ve been following my posts for the past several days, you already know that I was at the Susan G. Komen Dallas 3 Day Walk. And yes, it was AMAZING! There’s so much to talk about that I am going to try to devote the next few days to different elements of my experience. Today is about Walker Stalking (and the only time that it is acceptable to stalk another person!).

Since I started walking the 3 Day in 2009, this was the first year that I haven’t walked in my home city of Dallas. I decided early on that I wanted to be a Walker Stalker for my team, Angels for the Cure. In case you’re wondering what a ‘Walker Stalker’ is it’s a person who’s out during the walk to cheer on the walkers as they continue on their 60 mile journey. And I had a blast! 
My official duties started early on Friday morning meeting the majority of the walkers at our team captain’s home. From there we left in a small convey to the Opening Ceremony were the official walk would begin. The energy was high while walkers were reunited with other walkers and waited for Open Ceremony to begin.

Summa and Debra on the bus

Before I knew it the walkers were off and we were cheering them out from the Opening Ceremony! On my team we had a lot of first time walkers which made me think back to my very first walk and the combination of anxiousness, fear, and happiness that I felt as I took my first steps.
My team, Angels for the Cure, before the walk started
Throughout the three days of the walk, there are seven official cheering stations for spectators to come cheer the walkers on (and countless unofficial places where people just come out to cheer on the walkers). My personal goal was to be at all of the official cheering stations from the time they started until they closed to cheer on all of the walkers. All of my team mates knew that there would be a group of team Walkers Stalkers at every cheering station in case they needed to drop off anything or pick up anything. My group of Walker Stalkers had water, Gatorade, chips, and candy for the walkers to stop by to get if they needed it. And Friday turned out to have temperatures in the high 80’s which was unseasonably warm for Dallas!

The great thing about being at the cheering stations was that by the end of the first day, I was seeing some of the same walkers over and over and they were noticing me too. It was nice because it gave me people to look forward to see (other than my team mates) and to check to see how they were doing or if they needed anything.
This is Dali supporting Angels for the Cure at a cheering station

This is Molly a.k.a. Pink Stuff. The walkers LOVED stopping by and taking pictures with her!
Before I knew it Day 1 of the walk was over and I was cheering walkers into Camp. I ended up going into Camp to see my team mates and have dinner with them too. By time I left camp, it was 9 p.m. And by time I was able to stop at the store to get more Gatorade, rearrange my car, and get myself something to eat it was around midnight before I went to bed. Whew! Talk about a long, yet exciting day!
On Days 2 (and 3) I got up early to cheer the walkers out of camp. It was great to see the walkers first thing and wish them a strong day of walking. Especially since Day 2 is typically a longer route and the hardest day for the walkers. I was also able to get some great shots of them as they started their day and give out lots of hugs!
Day 2 was probably as hot as Day 1 of the walk. My group of team Walker Stalkers had even more water and Gatorade to pass out, and we were making a point to let the walkers know we had it. Thankfully the 3 Day is one big family and we share things with all walkers, not just our team mates.
On day 2 I did have a chance to drive the route a bit to cheer on walkers form my car. I ended up stopping about a mile from the camp site to cheer walkers in for their final mile of the day. Remembering how tough Day 2 has been for me, I knew the extra cheer would go a long way. There was a small group of us cheering, and you could see the walkers spirits lift when they saw us.
A Mother and Daughter Team that I met on Day 1. Here they are gettin ready for their last mile on Day 2 of the walk.
Finally Day 3 was here! Day 3 is great since its shorter route miles and the walkers know that the end of their journey is near. My team had a private cheering station along the route, and we had a pretty good turnout of family and friends for it. My former manager even came out, and I think she might have been bitten with the 3 Day bug as she is talking about actually walking next year!
I went to the very end of the route to cheer my team in to the Holding Area. I was beyond proud when I saw them all walk in together and the big smiles on their faces. As I started to cheer them in and hug them, the tears started out of happiness for them. Believe me, it’s hard not to get emotional watching the entire group of walkers walk in knowing how much they have gone through with training for the walk, actually walking 60 miles, walking through blisters and other injuries, and whatever their personal connection to breast cancer might be.

I’ll have to admit that I might be bitten by the Walker Stalker bug! I think that it’s a great way to show love and support to the other walkers. And I’m already thinking about doing it again next year. Instead of walking two cities every year, I think I’m going to focus on always cheering on the walkers in Dallas, and then walking in another city.


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