Avon 39 NYC – Lessons Learned & Favorite Moments

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I asked each team member to send their lessons learned and favorite moments – they haven’t seen each other’s responses until now.

Lessons Learned

Amanda – My lesson learned is a reminder of the truth in the adage that you mentally give up before you physically have to.  I had to repeatedly remind myself of this during the final stretch of Day 1.

Christa – Umm I could say several, like just say no!  Haha but also anything is possible if you put your mind to it!

Christy – Trust your instincts on pace and training – it’s ok not to follow the crowd. Mental prep is just as important as physical prep (maybe more so!). A good team and encouraging support group makes all the difference. If you dig way down and believe you can do it, nothing is impossible.

Heather – Avon miles are longer than real miles. [This is true! Heather and Amanda wore FitBits, which recorded our TOTAL miles, including the long walks to and from the start and finish. We actually walked 30.24 on Day 1 and 15.5 miles on Day 2 – TOTAL OF 45.74 MILES!]

Hilary – Set a backup alarm! Don’t pack so much to carry on the walk.

Team - Brooklyn Bridge

Favorite Moments

Amanda – Crossing the finish line with all four of my teammates on Day 1 (and again on Day 2).

Christa – Watching Christy and Hillary do the survivor walk at the end, your strength is amazing!! And that moment was so touching!!

Christy – Each Rest Stop when our team would rally and encourage whichever one of us needed it the most at that stop (usually me). Survivor’s Walk – it was the first time I have openly called myself a “survivor,” scared I would jinx myself somehow. But with that last march into the Closing Ceremonies – after 39 miles – I felt like the last 3 years of treatment is finally behind me, and I’m back.

Heather – Watching Hilary & Christy march in with other survivors during the closing ceremony.

Hilary – Hearing New York local survivors tell us how the money raised personally impacted them (the girl that was diagnosed at 25 with no health insurance) and the closing ceremony the survivors walk-that I almost didn’t participate in. My favorite stretch of the walk was the last part of the trail leading to Base Camp with the sun going down.

Almost There

Survivor Walk 2


Survivor March

We thank you for following along with us and for everyone’s support. Until next time . . . we will keep on walking.

Team Carolina Girls!








Avon 39 NYC – Closing Ceremonies

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We have made it – our Team of 5 walked 39 miles in support of the Avon Breast Cancer Foundation to help fund services for low-income women. Now we get to bask in the moment of celebration.

The music swells, and they announce the march-in:

First – the wonderful crew that has helped us the last 2 days (and we admit that even The Butterfly Lady played her part in getting us to the finish line – maybe tough love is what we needed). We cheer for her, too.

Then come the walkers.

And then – they announce the survivors. Hilary and I are in the survivor group in our pink t-shirts.  We march in all together.  Everyone is crying.  It is hugely emotional – it is why we are here.

Survivors 3.jpg

Hilary and Christy

Me - Survivors

Survivor Walk

The Avon CEO – who walked all 39 miles(!) – announces that we have raised $6.4 million dollars and introduces different groups that will receive grants from the money we have raised. Representatives of these groups tell us what they do:

  • Funds to help underserved women navigate a breast cancer diagnosis
  • Funds to pay for mammograms for low-income women
  • Funds to pay for translation services for non-English-speaking women who are newly diagnosed
  • Funds to pay for meals for breast cancer patients and their families
  • Seed money for research

And the grants go on and on. We realize that we are having a direct impact on breast cancer patients and that our sore feet and aching backs are worth it.  We have made a difference.


Statistics from the Walk

Team Carolina Girls

5 walkers

Funds raised: $11,856

Number of Donations: 120

The Walk

1800 walkers

337 survivors

Ages 16 to 82

Funds Raised: $6.4 million

Thanks for everyone’s support!

We ALL made a difference.


Avon 39 NYC – Day 2

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Our Team of 5 has completed Day 1 of the Avon 39 Walk To End Breast Cancer – 26 miles! But it’s not over.  This is the Avon 39 – that means we have 39 miles to walk.  13 miles to go.

Morning comes – we pack our gear and break down our tents (I’m happy to say that I was in much better spirits and able to handle my own tent this time).

All of us are walking better and smiling and ready for breakfast. We can do this!


All of us charge across the footbridge back to Harlem.

On our way - Day 2

We walk and walk and finally make it to Madison Avenue – window shopping certainly helps pass the time.

Kudos to the Crew

The crew on the walk were wonderful.  They are all volunteers, and many of them are former walkers.  They also raise money and meet months before the walk to train for their jobs – and they have to get up even earlier than we do!  Some even stayed in the tents with us.

They created themes around each rest stop, dressed in silly costumes, and cheered us on at every intersection.  One even rode a pink motorcycle and rode from rest stop to rest stop.  We would have not made it without them.  (Christa says we are going to forget this walking business and be crew next time – not a bad idea!)

Heather and Crew

Fun Crew

Pink Motorcycle

We Walk On

Finally we make it to the Plaza Hotel and bottom of Central Park – a beautiful walk.

We are making good time and feeling ok.

We turn the corner around Central Park and start up the West Side. We walk and walk – past the Natural History Museum and on and on back up to Harlem – even past 103rd Street where we were the day before.

Apparently we are slowing down a bit because at the next rest stop, they are starting to pack up – and whom do we see?

Rest Stop 4

The Butterfly Lady! Who gives us a lecture that we need to get moving or jump in the van.  We look at her stony-faced and decide we are 5 independent women – and we will finish this walk even if they close the course.  We can find our own way to the finish.  Determined, we plow ahead.

Finally – we clear the last rest stop (or rather, got kicked out, since we were so late) – and knew we’d make it. We had plenty of time to reach the end, so we slowed down a little and thought about what we had done.

We came to the last mile and walked back toward Pier 97 on the Hudson River, where we could hear the cheers of the Finish Line.

We did it!

39 miles.

We rock!

39 miles!

Day 2


Avon 39 NYC – Base Camp

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Base Camp

The Avon 39 sets up a pretty impressive Base Camp between Days 1 and 2. There is a sea of pink tents, a shower truck, and a field of port-o-potties.  There are also buses that take those who don’t want to camp back to the hotel.  But we are “all in” and want the full experience.  We are camping.

Base Camp Tents

But – we have just walked 26 miles. It is starting to get dark and now we have to find our luggage and set up our tents.  We limp across a field that is wet with dew (and goose poop) dragging our gear in search of our tent assignment.

All that is there is an empty space.  All the fast walkers already have their tents up and have been enjoying massages, live music, and dinner.  By the time we get there, the massage tent is dark and there is no more music.  And it is now dark.

Thankfully, a volunteer says he will help set up our tents, and we can go to dinner. We gratefully drop our gear and slowly make our way to the dinner tent, kind of hunched over.  We are so happy to see Coke (which I don’t even normally drink) and have a pretty delicious meal of chicken fajitas and smores.  Maybe we will make it after all.


We head back to camp, looking forward to a shower and good night’s sleep, only to find that only 2 of our 3 tents are set up . There is a hole where my tent is supposed to be.  I sink to the ground and contemplate just sleeping on the wet grass.  I think I could do it at this point.  But my wonderful team takes over and puts up my tent – I could have kissed them.

We get showers (from a shower truck) and set up our sleeping arrangements.  Our bedding has been the subject of very serious contemplation for several weeks.  We do not have electricity or much room – and had to pack everything in our gear.  I have opted for a Thermarest camping pad.  I started with a smaller version that was only as wide as a surfboard (but very compact).  Thankfully Frank – ever the rocket scientist- made me do a sleep simulation, and I realized I would just fall right off if I rolled over.  So I upgraded to the XL version – a good call.  I collapse into bed and fall asleep.

In the tent

As Scarlett says, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Avon 39 NYC – Day 1 (After Lunch)

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When I left off, my little team of 5 had just made it to the half-way point – and lunch! We all felt much better after taking a little break.  We have changed our socks, filled up our water bottles, and are ready for more.  We wind our way through a few more miles of Brooklyn neighborhoods and then it is back across the East River via the Williamsburg Bridge.

Williamsburg Bridge

We step off the Williamsburg Bridge – probably Mile 15 – finally back in Manhattan, where each step puts us a little closer to Base Camp.  But wait – turn left?  Oh no -we are heading back to LOWER Manhattan.  Base Camp is way up in Harlem.  I get a sinking feeling that things may get worse before they get better . . . .

Rest Stop

Next rest stop, we are starting to get behind the pace. They have posted when walkers need to clear each rest stop to stay on pace.  If we’re not on pace, we will get swept to the next stop or to Base Camp.  We don’t want to be swept. We panic when one of the volunteers (whom we have dubbed “The Butterfly Lady” because she looked very cheery with a butterfly outfit – but looks can be deceiving) threatens us with the Sweep Van.  We bolt out of the rest stop!

Rest Stop 5

This is the hardest part and where I nearly gave up. Even a few tears were shed.  And there are very few pictures because all I could think about was maybe the Butterfly Lady was right –  and if I just said the word, I could end it all right then and hop in a van.  I even tried to talk the team into boarding the van and keeping it a secret – who would know if we made a pact?  I am not proud of this.  Thankfully, they ignored me and kept walking.

CAT Walking

I texted my mother and said I needed help – she was amazing and texted back a song to keep us going – Somewhere  Over the Rainbow.

I did rally for a picture of Grand Central Station – the only picture from this segment of our journey.

Grand Central Station

At the next rest stop, Amanda gave me a talking-to and said I would be disappointed with myself if I hopped in the van. I popped another Advil and vowed to keep going.

We finally get to the Upper East Side – 60th Street – we are heading to 103rd Street!  We are all limping and hardly talking.  The team says, “Ask your mother for another song, please!”  She sends “We are the Champions.”

We walk and walk and walk on the Upper East Side. I am just focused and singing in my head and walking on autopilot (and with the benefit of the max dose of Advil Liquigels at this point).

We reach Mile 22 and I start crying – 4 miles left. I am actually going to do this.

Last Rest Stop

As the sun is setting, we hit the last rest stop. We are now in Harlem with 2 miles to go.  We are tired but determined.

The last footbridge to Randalls Island – and Base Camp – the longest mile I have ever walked!

Last bridge

Finish Line – 26 miles!


Stay tuned – After 26 miles, now we have to camp?!

What were we thinking?!

Avon 39 NYC – Day 1 (Before Lunch)

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On the bus

Up at 4:30 am(!) – we pack our camp gear and board buses that will take us from the hotel to Opening Ceremonies. We’re ready (we think!).

At Check-In, we made bibs that explain why we are walking – here’s mine:

Opening Ceremonies at Pier 97 on the Hudson River (right next to a Viking Cruise Ship) – lots of excitement.

We are cheered out by the Youth Crew – young people who volunteered their time to rally us and lift our spirits – and give us snacks.

Youth Crew

And we’re off – heading toward Chelsea


Down in lower Manhattan, the Freedom Tower greets us, ascending through the fog.

Freedom Tower

Then we cross the bridge by City College and turn a corner to see –

The Statute of Liberty!

Statue of Liberty

One thing we loved is seeing so many teams and their clever shirts or costumes –

There was even a firefighter who walked in full gear – he had a loved one who died of breast cancer and walked as “Cancer Fighter.”

Lots of back and forth around Battery Park and then we spy the Wall Street Bull – and our favorite – “The Defiant Girl.” We had to get a picture of me and Hilary – both breast cancer survivors.  Hilary was diagnosed at age 32 and underwent surgery, chemo and radiation.  I was diagnosed at 44 and underwent surgery and radiation.  We are defiant and we are survivors!

Defiant Girls

At this point, we are still feeling really good and having fun. And we’re about to cross the Brooklyn Bridge – how cool is that?!

As we descend the Brooklyn Bridge, this is where things unravel a bit. We spy a park with lots of pink walkers and are delighted to realize that we’ve already made it to our lunch stop – only to be told that no, there is actually a 3-mile loop we have to do before we get back here.  Not only does this mean 3 more miles until lunch – but that there must be hundreds and hundreds of walkers in front of us if they are already at lunch.  We start to get a little nervous – and hungry.

But we walk through some beautiful areas of Brooklyn – and I’m determined to fight on!  (Look how far we’ve come from the Brooklyn Bridge already!)


We finally make it to lunch and all take our shoes off, change socks, eat whatever they give us, and contemplate the next 13 miles. We are half-way.

Half Way!

Do they make it?!!  Check back and see!!

Avon 39 – #Fierce is Forever

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I had planned to blog a little more as we walked, but I clearly underestimated how completely wiped out we would be! It was all we could do to get to the next rest stop – or even the next block!  So – now that we are a little more recovered – I will be posting stories and pictures – the good and the bad!   Also lessons learned.  In the last few miles, we each swore we’d NEVER do this again.  But you never know . . . .

However painful the last few miles were, the reality is that our team of 5 raised over $11,000 for breast cancer services for low income women. That is remarkable.  And the New York walk as a whole raised $6.4 million!

I was lucky that when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I never once worried about insurance, family support, being out of work, or how to pay for treatment or anything I needed to get me through. All women should have this luxury – to just focus on themselves and getting better.  I’m so proud of all the walkers and our whole team – not because we walked 39 miles, but because each of us were brave enough to even try.

I will send updates in installments over the next couple of days – for those of you who receive the blog by email, bear with me. : )




Avon 39 – We did it!

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We did it!  All 5 of us crossed the finish line and completed all 39 miles in the Avon 39 Walk To End Breast Cancer!  We are all limping a little, but overall faring pretty well.  Tonight we celebrated by eating out and going to see the show “Wicked” on Broadway.  And now it’s time to go to bed – and I admit, after a night of tent camping and walking 39 miles, we are all extra appreciative of a real bed (and shower).

Thank you for all your well-wishes.  Please check back for pictures and stories – including final figures of how much we raised, sights we saw on our walk around town, and “behind the scenes” stories (the “real” walk!).

Good Night!





Avon 39 – Check-In Day!

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Our team has all arrived in New York City – we are ready to walk! Today was Check-In Day, where we picked up our wristbands and luggage tags, turned in last-minute donations, and filled out bibs that say whom we’re walking for.  We even got to see what the tents look like.  The afternoon was full of excitement – and full of pink!  We are taking New York by storm.

To introduce you to the team – from right to left in the picture below –

  • Heather was one of my best friends in high school – we’ve stayed friends all these years, and I am so happy she is joining me on this journey. She lives in Aiken, SC, and we did some of our training walks together when I was home this summer, including a 20-mile walk where we got to spend hours and hours catching up. She and I usually opt for girls’ weekends that involve shopping, so staying in a tent will definitely be an adventure!
  • Me – For those of you who don’t know me, I live in Annapolis, Maryland (but am from South Carolina). This is my 2nd walk, but my first since having breast cancer. I definitely am not an athlete, but I have been training and am slow, but steady. I hope I can do this!
  • Amanda and I met when we trained for the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk way back in 2002(!). We were in the same walking group and spent many weekends on the C&O Canal Trail. She went on to do another 3-Day a few years ago, so is a veteran. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley and is a big hiker (so camping is no big deal to her!).
  • Christa is Amanda’s sister and also lives in the Shenandoah Valley. I met her on the 3-Day back in 2002. This is her third walk – just like Amanda, so they gave us lots of good tips over dinner tonight. She says next time we’re going to volunteer as crew, NOT walkers!
  • Hilary is Heather’s sister. We all grew up together in the same church (and puppet group!). Hilary lives in Lexington, SC. Hilary is also a breast cancer survivor. Both Hilary and Heather are Clemson Tigers – Hilary even brought the Clemson flag to fly over her tent.


We had a delicious Italian dinner at Mozzarella & Vino on 54th Street to get us ready for tomorrow – when we meet at 4:30 AM!!!

I will mainly be posting pictures from the road – and will tell the stories when we are back – and I’m sure there will be many! There is some rain forecast, so we are all a little nervous.  But as of tonight, our team has raised $11,517 for breast cancer research and services for low-income women.   So no matter what happens, we will be proud.