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WALKERS POUND THE PAVEMENT FOR BREAST CANCER. Dade Brigade's Julie Williams, Dana Nethery, Leslie Faircloth, Kelli Reese, April Riddle, Lee Cureton, Gidget Knight and Janet Kramer-Mai, kneeling, completed the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk in Atlanta Oct. 26. The group walked a total of 60 miles Friday, Saturday and Sunday in their efforts to help raise awareness for breast cancer.
 

By: Summer Kelley, Staff Reporter

 

The rain may have made everything wet Friday, but it did not dampen the spirits of eight women from Dade County. 

“Lunch was the hardest part of the weather Friday,” Gidget Knight, a Dade Brigade member, said. “We had to sit on the side of the road and eat our sandwiches in the rain, but it wasn’t unbearable.”

While other Dade County citizens were watching football games, enjoying Saturday and Sunday’s beautiful fall weather, and taking advantage of local activities, Knight, Janet Kramer–Mai, Julie Williams, Leslie Faircloth, Kelli Reese, Dana Nethery, Lee Cureton and April Riddle were walking 60 miles through the streets and suburbs of Atlanta. 

The Dade Brigade, as the women call their group, walked 60 miles in three days, sleeping in small tents at night and enjoying the company of other women in their fight to end breast cancer at the Susan G. Komen 3-day walk.  The Atlanta Breast Cancer 3–Day benefiting Susan G. Komen For The Cure is a part of other three-day walks that take place in 14 cities this year. Denver will become city number 15 next year.

Each member of the Dade Brigade came away from the three-day walk with something different. Faircloth said she most enjoyed hearing all the stories of fellow walkers, volunteers and survivors. Nethery spoke of the way the women, volunteers, and people at the cheering stations encouraged each other through every mile. For Cureton, the walk was something she had always wanted to do and is now a goal achieved.

“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done physically,” Riddle said. “But it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

The entire group is planning on doing the event again and while they all took home different things from the three-day walk, they all agree on the amount of support they received and that it was a great experience.

“Seeing how many people came out and supported us. . . they couldn’t walk 60 miles, but they did their part,” Faircloth said. “The people that came out and cheered us was unbelievable.”

“It was a very good weekend,” Kramer–Mai said. “I just think it is an indescribable experience.”

“I’m a little bit sore, of course, but I’m going to do it again,” Knight said. “It was the experience of a lifetime.”

“It’s a very humbling experience, very awesome,” Williams said. “You think you are ready for how powerful it is. . . but every time I went through a cheering section, I was crying by the end of it.”

The eight walking companions also agreed that one of the most uplifting parts of the walk was when they crossed the finish line on Sunday afternoon and attended the closing ceremonies.  Nethery said that walk organizers told them around 3,100 people had walked the 60 miles and a total of 5,400 people, including the crew that helped keep things running behind scenes, participated in Atlanta’s event helping to raise $8.3 million and counting for the Atlanta three-day walk. 

Cureton said the closing events gave the Dade Brigade a chance to see the bigger picture and what they had been a part of. Kramer–Mai said the walk just shows how passionate women can be for the breast cancer cause to spend three days walking in two inches of rain, wind and 40-degree temperatures.

“Closing ceremonies are very moving, and put the whole thing into perspective,” Kramer–Mai said.

“To see the camaraderie and pride at the end of it, we were all there for one goal,” said Cureton.

That goal was to raise money and support for breast cancer awareness and research. Kramer–Mai was the group’s “lone survivor” as Faircloth put it, and the entire group was walking for not only her but also for their friend Stacey Johnson who died from breast cancer earlier this year.

“If we make just a little bit of difference. . .” Faircloth said.

“We go through three days of hell to help prevent women from going through months of chemotherapy or to keep them from ever hearing the words (that they have breast cancer),” she said.

Some of them were friends already, and some of the Dade Brigade had not met before but Cureton said they all came together for a common purpose and are now sisters.

Kramer–Mai sums the experience up by saying that she strongly believes in the three-day walk’s motto "Everyone deserves a lifetime", and that is what the whole event is about.

“This whole community should get into some kind of fundraiser for breast cancer or something, because it’s great to do something that goes for a good cause,” Reece said. “It was a great experience and I would tell everyone to get involved. It’s amazing.”

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