The scenery was absolutely beautiful in Philly. The weather was perfect when Natalie, Shannon and I got there and the trees were juuuuuuust starting to turn. We got to our hotel Friday afternoon and met up with Christy, our team mate from Illinois. We grabbed some dinner and our "rock and roll" costumes from the mall next door and hit the hay for a good nights rest.
Saturday we met up with Liz and Grace at the registration site and it was hugs all around. Christy and Liz and I had participated in a breast cancer walk together in New York a few years back, not all of the rest of the girls had met. We made all the introductions, got our credentials and headed to the opening ceremonies. Grace carried the Texas flag for us and Christy carried the flag for Illinois. She represented well...But from then on we were dubbed "Texas." After a little warm-up, we were off. It was sooooo beautiful. We started at Winterthur Park, part of the DuPont property in PA/DE (lots of that around there). We met an amazing woman today. She was one of the first walkers out. I watched her take off with her friends, keeping up with them at their quick pace. After the Red Dirt Rocketts made a quick detour to the restroom we found ourselves behind her again. She was having difficulty with the rocky trail and had slowed down quite a bit. Liz and I caught up to her and as we all walked together, she hollered "Hey, Texas!" We struck up a conversation with her and immediately made a real connection. Ellen was diagnosed 5 years ago with MS. She hasn't been to a doctor in 3 years because she doesn't believe in the treatment and doesn't believe in holistic treatments. She has tried several different drugs but for now, chooses the chance of an off day over daily injections. "Today," she told us, "is a REALLY off day." She has participated in all four of the PA walks and this would be the first she wouldn't be able to finish. MS was the only thing Ellen didn't want to talk about. After a very brief synopsis of her condition, the conversation quickly changed to normal rhetoric about pets and kids and jobs. Although every step was a struggle to her on that rocky path, she was not going to let it define her to "Texas." She completely "set the pace" for the rest of our 30 miles.
We had a tremendous experience during the entire weekend. It was tough and it challenged all of is in many different ways. We encouraged each other, we slowed down when we needed to and we pushed ourselves to keep up when we needed to. We laughed a lot and we talked a lot...and, well, we walked a lot. 30 miles. It takes a half hour to drive...and it took us two days to walk. All I can say is...WHERE ARE WE GOING NEXT YEAR, GIRLS?