The Avon 3-Day, October 4-6, 2002

A Mad Hatter’s Triumph


After the stirring and emotional Closing Ceremonies of the Avon 3-day at Piedmont Park, Rahrah, (my 2 ½ year old granddaughter) rushed into my arms and right away noticed the smiley stickers on my walker ID tag and cheerily informed me that she got those stickers too for going to the potty like a big girl. I said I got those for the same reasons, for stopping at every pit stop and using the porta-potties! I drank gallons of Gatorade and water as we were told over and over to hydrate and I swear I’ve never emptied my bladder as much as these three days!

The porta-johns lining the route on every pit stop every two miles or so were memorable in this event as much as the sea of blue tents, 3000 plus, lined up in alphabetical grids every night in our movable campsite. My tent address was H-81 and that was my gear and duffel number too and we brought these to the gear truck marked H every morning when we dismantled our camp and the crew transported them to the next site. Every campsite was a veritable city. Again there were hundreds of porta-johns everywhere. There was a huge dining tent where spicy chicken gumbo was served up the first night and pasta marinara the next. After dinner the mess tent was transformed into an entertainment center where local bands and acts were brought in for us to relax and groove. There was a concierge tent where every night a selection of complimentary Avon products were offered. There were the podiatry, chiropractic, medical, and massage tents. There were hot shower trucks and you can sign up for towel service for $4 so you didn’t have to pack wet towels the next day. It rained the first night at camp and some tents were in two inches of water so some had to move their tents in the night or slept in the dining tent. My tent was spared the flooding and I only had to put up with a slight surface dampness.

I was profoundly exhausted the first night. We walked the longest the first day, 21.9 miles. I did not think to plan my pace and pit stops so I got into camp late and couldn’t get into the massage list anymore. So I took 800 mg Ibuprofen and a long hot shower and zipped into my sleeping bag and I didn’t even know that the camp was flooding until morning. The next day I was wiser. I was one of the first 300 to arrive at the campsite and I went to the massage tent right away and got the full treatment within the hour. Aahh! Sheer bliss! I had a blister, a pea-sized no account beginner but I took it to the podiatry tent anyway and they drained it with a syringe, put a band-aid and it was gone the next day. That night the temperature dipped to 40 degrees and when you have to go because you filtered gallons of Gatorade that was when you wished you were a man so you could urinate in a bottle right there in the warmth of your sleeping bag.

The final day was a glorious day and excitement had built up. There was this Harley riding volunteer crew of flamboyant characters in their sleeveless vests with names like WASSUP, showing off biceps and wearing ponytails, or the belly types, showing off bald heads, but shod in cowboy snakeskin boots nevertheless. They came roaring; vroom, vroom, in their cycles, first thing in the day. They opened the route and we couldn’t start walking until they checked the road ahead and said go! They parked at intersections and held the cars, their radios blasting motivational songs like Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” or YMCA. Everybody loved them and of course they relished their role as support and protector. I heard they have been volunteering for the past three years and this group had a monopoly going, no one else could sign up unless one of them quits.

I did it! I walked sixty miles, for three days in October and raised $8413 for breast cancer, from all of you dear friends, who supported my effort. The Atlanta Avon 3-day, 2300 walkers all and at least another thousand crew and volunteers brought in $4.4 M to the Breast Cancer Fund. Sixty-three cents for every dollar was returned to the fund, and supported medical research, education, and programs for early detection and treatment among medically underserved women. Last year The Winship Breast Cancer Institute of Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital received $15.3M from the fund. THANKS to all of you DANKE, GRAZIE, MERCI, GRACIAS, ARIGATO, MAHALO, MARAMING SALAMAT PO!

It was great fun for me all the way. From dreaming up the Mad Hatter’s
auction-fundraiser, to writing those corny (but effective!) poems and sending out my ABC, to camping out for 3 days and now I’ve come to XYZ. The whole effort was a super adventure and a grand party for me. But all good things must come to an end. So I’ll start another one. On July 4th next year I’ll run the 10K Peachtree Road Race. There will not be any fund-raising for this so no need to take out your checkbook, it’s just the biggest road race in the world and I’ve got to do it!

Posted by Miman,
Avon 3-Day October 4-6, 2002

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