Our journey began around 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 22.
Originally we were both going to work a half day, until I found out I had to be in Atlanta at 4:00 on Thursday. Thus the early departure...we were on the road about an hour - right about the Sharonville exit - had a blowout. (Fort would have taken a picture of the shredded tire, and of the tire being changed...but it was WAY too early for me - I hadn't even had a cup of coffee yet! In fact, I was sleeping when Donny said "Is that OUR car????"...he was asking about the "thump, thump, thump, thump..." It was. I knew John was already at work, so we called him, he found a place within a couple of miles from where we were - we had the new tire put on and were back on the road by 7:30. And made it to Atlanta with a few minutes to spare!
Melissa (Fort) would let me know RIGHT AWAY that she was going to be there with us.
We were waiting with the other flag bearers for the practice to begin. I got up to go to the car for something and they were doing a sound check on the stage. Of the thousands of songs they could have chosen, they chose the Cold Play
song (Viva La Vida(?)
For those of you who don't know - that song was on a CD that a nurse from the hospital made for Melissa last year around this time (when Fort was in the hospital). We both liked the song, and while SHE probably knew who the artist was and what the song was, I DIDN'T. After she passed away, I started hearing that song whenever I really needed her. SO...of course when THAT was the song the began BLARING from the speakers - I KNEW she was there. She always lets me know. (at the end of the pictures - I have ANOTHER story of her letting me know she was there-just the other day...) And that began the incredible adventure of the 3 day in Atlanta. I hope you enjoy the pictures.
I had the priviledge of being one of the Honor Flag Bearers. I was to carry the
banner "MY DAUGHTER" in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies! This was at the practice the day before the walk started.
After the practice for the Opening Ceremonies, Donny & I checked into the hotel. John & Diana were already there. They had made reservations for dinner at the Macaroni Grill across the street, so we joined them. This was the second time in about 2 hours that Melissa let me know she was there with us...our waitress was Melissa! (she even had that CREATIVE handwriting like OUR Melissa!)
FORT'S YAYAS for TATAS leaving the comfort of the hotel for...who knows what kind of adventure! And an adventure it proved to be...
One of my first friends, Carol. She was an Honor Flag Bearer also. She carried the flag "MY HUSBAND"...which wasn't true in the Opening Ceremonies. He wasn't her husband until she crossed the finish line - he was waiting with a Judge, and they got married when she finished! (Not sure, but he might have walked too).
Less than a mile into the walk and Sharon tries to convince me to "hop on a sailboat"...but I won't do it...so she decides to stay on the walk with me...THANKS Sharon!
Donny greets me & Sharon at the first cheering station...THANKS for being there Donny!
GREETERS...from the United Nations???? AWESOME!
FORT'S YAYAS for TATAS ALL complete the first 20 miles!
20 miles down, 40 to go...and STILL smiling!
Sharon & Karyn make themselves at home after 20 miles of walking...
Getting ready for DAY 2...I'm SURE we're talking about how our training will help us get going on day 2...NOT. John is the only one on our team that really "TRAINED". It was obvious - we couldn't keep up with him. We had to keep reminding him that "this isn't a RACE, John." He didn't listen. He WON every day. Way to go John!
ANOTHER motivational poster along the way...(is he (I mean SHE) losing a boob there?)
Karyn's best friend, Melissa Bacon, comes from Dayton, OH to surprise us at a cheering station! THANKS Melissa!
STRETCH it Sharon...and get your shoes on...we gotta get a move on!
Halloween in reverse...the KIDS are giving out the candy!
I LOVE this woman...THANK YOU Diana for not selling our bed to the highest bidder! (I know you could have sold it MANY times before we came in...thanks for protecting it!)
Volunteer Nurse Lois takes a look at my blisters at then end of Day 2 - she wouldn't touch them - said I did a "GREAT"job bandaging my toes! They all came off in the shower and had to redo them later that night for Day 3.
I TOLD you you'd be on the blog Jill!
40 miles down, 20 to go....(and STILL smiling!)
Finally...a REAL bed! (the first night, I had a 1/4" thick pad to sleep on...on top of concrete...might as well had NOTHING under me - I tossed and turned (as much as you can toss and turn in a 2 man pup tent) until Mandi offered me HER 2" thick pad to sleep on-THANKS MANDI!-the next morning, I called Donny and pretty much begged him to buy us a mattress...for ONE night. He did. He's WONDERFUL.
A sea of pink...imagine trying to find YOUR tent - I got lost one time, actually got a little nervous!
Tent City - 1000 2 man pink pup tents in the Atlanta Trade Center
Our "across the street" neighbors in tent city - KRISTA'S MINGOS - Becky, Erin, Rose and Bobbie. (Thanks for helping us with our tent on Sunday Becky & Bobbie!)
Day 3 - John left AN HOUR after we did - snuck up on us and PASSED US. He finished about an hour before we did. (all that training paid off...except IT WASN'T A RACE JOHN....You were AWESOME!)
Downtown Atlanta Cheering Station - Donny & Diana are on the corner by the crosswalk-I took the picture and didn't even know they were there - almost passed them by and didn't see them! This cheering station was over two blocks long on both sides of the sidewalk - just the motivation we needed to get those last miles in!
This Hospice Nurse is "Walking to Lose her job!"
Pam and an emotional Suzanne (a neighbor from tent city)at Turner Field.
Karyn & Mandi go through "the gauntlet" as Donny calls it - 60 miles, lots of blisters, 3 stress fractures and SMILES on their faces!
FORT'S YAYAS for TATAS make it 60 miles to Turner Field!!!!
Closing ceremonies...my flag is second from right.
3 days. 60 miles. It was incredible, and talking about doing it again ALREADY seems, well, crazy. But we are talking about doing it again next year. I do it for
Melissa, and will continue to do EVERYTHING I can to help raise $$ to find a cure for this horrific disease. I walk for you, your daughters, your friends, your mothers, your sons and your husbands. I am so glad I got to experience it with Melissa too. I know she was with us the entire 60 miles - a little easier on her this time! Love you pretty girl...thank you for being there!
**Okay...the OTHER story. I had a mammogram scheduled for the day after we got home.
Right before the radiologist was about to do the mammogram, she was looking at my chart and started asking about family history, when she said "Oh, you have a daughter with breast cancer?" I replied "NO. My daughter died of breast cancer in January." When she did the mammogram, she noticed some calcifications that weren't there in my last mammogram. She took more pictures, and sent it on STAT. I heard from the doctor the next day that I needed to have a biopsy. SO...Donny took a half day to take me. When we got in the car to go, we turned on the radio, and guess what song started playing? Cold Play. Viva La Vida. She was with me THAT day too.
OH. Got the results today. NEGATIVE. GREAT news. GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS GIRLS....
it's VERY important to catch this early.