Together with 4013 participants, over $9.4 million was raised for cancer research and patient care through The Campbell Family Institute at The Princess Margaret Hospital.
Many of you know that I have been participating in this event since it's inception in 2003 and this year I became part of the Diamond Club a select group of veteran participants, top fundraisers and top donors.
I began this event after my grandmother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and I've continued the journey in honor of her memory and in the hopes that we will see the end of cancer in our lifetimes. A staggering 1 in 7 women is diagnosed with cancer and that's simply unacceptable. Read here to learn more about Women's Cancers
The weekend is a very special experience and (forgive me for the long journal entry) I want to share the details of that experience with you all
This year the event changed as we started, camped and ended at the same location. This change was made to cut overhead costs and ensure the most money was going to the cause - I'm ridiculously proud to be part of something that is actively concerned about the way the funds are used. To that end, we showed up at Downsview Park on Saturday around 7am to get started! You drop off your baggage for the night with the gear trucks, hand in any last minute donations and head over to the area where opening ceremonies will begin. You would think after nine years, I'd be less emotional at these things but I'd be lying if I said that was the case Here are some highlights from this years opening ceremonies:
From here the journey begins! During the first day (34kms) you encounter people honking their horns, cheering stations and the events Grab & Gos (hydration stations and porta potties!) and full pit stops (hydration, port potties, food and medical tent) ensuring that the walk is as safe and enjoyable as possible. At each "stop" there is usually a sign that tells you how far you've walked and how far you have to go until the end. After nine years I can tell you, without hesitation, these signs lie I'm fairly certain that this is now the 60 ish km walk because the math never adds up and there are times where 'Almost There' and 'Not far now!' become cringe-worthy sayings!
It's alright though! Eventually you get back to camp and are greeted with rounds of cheering and celebration. When you get back to camp, tents are set up for the two day walkers that are deciding to stay the night (that was us) and your luggage has been placed inside - the crew really do rock. There are shower trucks where you can take a nice hot shower and ease the muscles and then a buffet of yummy food awaits! The sponsors are incredible, they provide snacks, food and yes.. beer and wine! Thank you Steam Whistle and Colio Wines There are also massages, Yoga and Stretch classes and even a hula hooping class, which I did do for about 15 minutes to loosen up my hips. The rest of the evening is some announcements from the hospital, some sort of fashion contest (hilarious) and live entertainment usually involving dancing. This seems crazy, dancing after walking for so long but it really helps to ease the muscles for the next days journey.
They played a video that showed our journey over the last nine years which you can see here:
This year we had a live band but before they came on was this little girl who was maybe.. 10? Check her out (takes a minute to load but it's worth it!)
After the dancing, it's bed time and those of us staying at camp get into our 2 - man blue tents and tuck in for the night. The humor is that the tent isn't long enough for my 6'3" husband so his feet tend to stick out of it, which does prove to be helpful in identifying my tent at night after a late night potty break!
In the morning, you get a hot breakfast and a bagpiper leads the first walkers out onto the route when it opens at 7am.
The second day is probably the hardest, if only because over night everything in your body has stiffened and starts to cease and the idea of doing it all over again feels almost impossible but you make it through. Largely due to the support of people cheering you on! Whether it's crew members, friends and family at the cheering stations or strangers in the neighborhoods you're walking through, every single "woo" or "you can do it" makes it possible to take the next step. Some people go above and beyond and hand out refreshments and homemade snacks. The community at Downsview is incredible, this year they had a misting area so you could cool off, homemade cookies and PIZZA and tons of love. This weekend always renews my faith in humanity. At the end of the event you walk across a finish line, someone announces your name and let's you know what number you are. This year *gimp and I were numbers 68 and 69. From here, you can do a number of things including relax in massaging chairs, grab some food from one of the food vendors and again, grab a beer or a glass of wine and OF COURSE - register for the next year!
I need to take this time to thank my donors, my friends and family and the incredible deviantART community for your continued support over the last 9 years. Without you, *gimp and I would not reach our goals that allow us to keep the fight going. So 9.4 million "Thank You's" you are truly our partners in this mission and we adore you all.
2012 marks the tenth anniversary of this event and we are all signed up and ready to go another 60km to the finish line! This will be my 600th km and my tenth year and I'm truly stoked about these milestones.
I encourage you to take a look at how the money is used because the work at the Princess Margaret is truly exciting!
We're starting our fundraising early because we want to make the 10th year really count. If you want to donate to us you can by clicking on the thermometers below.
I can't say it enough but THANK YOU, for being the best support system out there
I never was able to know my grandmother as she passed from breast-bone cancer when I was one. Reading this has gotten me all teary eyed so I'll just say Thank You for doing the walks, I right there with you in spirit. To the many more walks ahead!
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^Nyx-Valentine arrived in our community and started whipping everyone into a frenzy with her relentless desire to bring the Artistic Nude and Fetish galleries to the fore. 9 years later, and it's safe to say that Nyx is not only a leader as a photographer in these galleries, but she has also established herself as a much saught after model. ^... Read More