BARBARA JO KIRSHBAUM

2007 AVON WALK FOR BREAST CANCER


Washington, DC; Avon Walk; May 5-6, 2007; 40 miles; 3100 participants; $7.3m raised 

This is beginning to feel a little like the movies "Same Time Next Year" or like "Groundhog Day".  I do not mean that in any negative way, but more because I am starting my 10th year of walking for breast cancer, and my 6th year of doing multiple walks in one year.

I just want to bring this up to date with a couple of things.  In January it was an honor for me to be interviewed for the CBS Sunday Morning News.  It was  a story on Walking and Health and it was 'more than exciting' to be on a national program, even if it aired in CA at 7am on Sunday morning!

I want to thank Stacy, the owner of the Screaming Chicken Saloon in Devore, CA, for hosting a fundraising event at her biker bar in April.  It was a great success and I so appreciated her enthusiasm to support the cause.

I begin this walk season having completed 70 (DC was 71)  long distance walks for breast cancer; having raised so far this year $101,000 for the cause; and a grand total of $777,000 since 1998, on my way to my $1m goal.

So, we arrived in DC a day early to have some tourist time.  The first day I was so exhausted that I thought I would never get through 2 days of walking because I barely had any energy to be a tourist.  I was very apprehensive about my ability to walk 40 miles, since I seemed so drained of energy.  But guess what, I was ready to go by Sat.!  Bob always has that confidence in me, while I am always questioning it.  So what's new?!  It's been like that for 47 years.

As far as getting around DC, oh my gosh!  Even with our GPS system we got lost and seemed to take every wrong turn. It is so hard to figure everything out there.  It is all like the spoke of a wheel with many one way streets---so even Bob, who has this fabulous sense of direction, was frustrated much of the time. 

It was great seeing my 'buddies'--the other 'all city walkers', and Cathy from Chicago, and Richard from Atlanta, from previous years.  We all just pick up where we left off which makes for nice camaraderie.  Also there were so many previous walkers, crew members, support people, and staff  who I met in the past.  That is always a little perk!

Doug, a photographer, was taking pictures before opening ceremonies.  He wanted a picture of the banner on my back.  I then explained to him what the banner meant:  blue ribbons and white ribbons with the names of my sponsors and pink ribbons with names of the people my sponsors want me to walk for.  He asked if I would walk for him, because he has cancer!  Of course, of course, of course.  And by the way, anyone who is reading this if you would like me to wear a ribbon for a loved one, please email me their name.

I spent most of Sat. morning walking/talking with Shery.  She is a young Mom with 2 children.  She was walking by herself in memory of her Grandmother.  She was a first time walker and was already planning on getting a group together for next year.  I enjoyed walking those miles with her.  I often wonder when I am talking with a woman who is young enough to be my daughter, or sometimes young enough to be my granddaughter, what they are thinking because I feel like I am relating to them as if there is no age difference. 

On Sun. I walked with Paula, who has 3 children, and works for Social Security.  By the way, almost every time I asked someone what kind of work they did it was that they were a government employee--not such a surprise in DC!  We had a great conversation.  She managed to do 22 miles the previous day while creating a problem in a foot that I hope will heal soon.  She was asking me all about closing ceremonies, and then she told me she would not be attending because she had to get home to be with her family.  It was the 1 yr. anniversary of the death of her brother from lung cancer and the family was all getting together.  Hugs to you and your family.

I was about one mile from the end of the 40 miles.  An attractive woman came up to me at a crosswalk, and said she had heard about how much money I had raised and wanted to thank me.  She was not an official walker.  Her cousin was walking in her honor.  Her name is Lisa.  She had been diagnosed the year before, age 37, with stage 4 breast cancer.  She has 2 very young children.  She was strong enough to walk a few blocks with her cousin.  As I sit here, I can picture her beautiful face, and I wish her  continued strength in her fight.

I am remembering Gregg Gour at this time.  This is the anniversary of his death.  I knew him from his being on staff years ago, and from spending time walking with him on a NY breast cancer walk; and for spending lunch with him as he began his motor tour around the country to say goodbye to those family and friends on his "Goodbye and No Regrets Tour". He did so much in the fight against breast cancer and AIDS. He is in my thoughts and heart.

Thank you for what you are doing to change the world.

 

Barbara Jo Kirshbaum
"I walk because I can't walk away"
www.bjkcounselor.com