My Experience at the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer
Each year, breast cancer is on the forefront of American’s minds in October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed, but Avon has created constant awareness and fundraising through its impressive Avon 39 series of walks. Seven cities throughout the US hold the two-day walks: Houston, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and New York. Since it’s inception in 2003, Avon 39 has recruited 207,000 walkers who have raised a collective $550,000,000 for breast cancer research, education, screening, and patient programs.
My friend and I took part in the recent walk in Santa Barbara in September. I would say this walk requires a good amount of dedication because each participant is required to raise $1800 and then walk the 39 miles over a span of two days. Let’s just say I am someone who is in shape, but by the end of Day 1 my legs were severely cramping and I had blisters two inches wide on the back of my heels. I actually didn’t even realize I had the blisters until after I took my shoes off because my legs hurt so much.
The walk was a bit of an out of body experience with lots of time for self reflection. We got a beautiful tour of Santa Barbara by foot walking through downtown and State Street then along the ocean through Montecito (I seriously considered stopping at the Biltmore as we passed), Summerland, and eventually on to Carpentaria after an overnight stop at The Santa Barbara Polo Club which was the base camp. While many walkers elected to sleep in tents at the club, we were happy to have a comfortable bed at the Fess Parker for the evening.
We walked from 7 am until 5 pm the first day and somehow it seemed as though you were always surrounded by different people. Many wore ribbons and attached photos to their backpacks to show off the reasons why they were walking. I saw some families and friends there in matching outfits with breast cancer survivors and those currently facing the disease. The people of Santa Barbara were extremely kind and inspiring, waiting out on front porches cheering and clapping as the walkers made their way past. Some even drove cars to multiple stops along the route honking and cheering us on. Above anything, the most impressive moment of the experience was when we were told that this walk alone raised $5.3 million toward the cause, with many grants going to CA medical centers, definitely something worth dedicating a weekend to.
UPCOMING AVON 39 WALKS
New York, Oct 17-18, 2015
Houston, April 23-24, 2016
Washington, D.C., April 30-May 1, 2016
Chicago, June 4-5, 2016
Boston, July 9-10, 2016
San Francisco, July 23-24, 2016
Santa Barbara, September 10-11, 2016