Yesterday, August 18, 2007, four Further Shore Board members donned their Wayne Commemorative T-Shirts and joined the 4,000 strong crowd of hikers for the American Cancer Society’s Annual Climb to Conquer Cancer. The event is held as a fund raiser for ACS and for those walking, it is an opportunity to remember and honor friends and family who have been touched by this disease.
We were up at 5:15 a.m.; sleepy, but excited! Driving “Grandfather” (the Chevy Wagon affectionately named by Wayne), we picked up Jill Rundall at 6:30. Next stop was at Laura Fox’s place to meet up with Eileen Westphal. Laura kindly loaned her Wayne Shirt to Eileen for the hike. Then we drove to Flag High School to park Grandfather and catch a school bus to the bottom of Snowbowl Road where hikers started the 7.5 mile walk up the mountain. We were eager to begin, but paused for a photo op in a field of amazingly bright yellow sunflowers. Our white shirts with a large photo of Wayne and the word “LIVESTRONG” in yellow text on the front stood out among the sea of creamy coffee colored shirts. It was 7:50 a.m.
There were people of all ages, shapes and sizes, small children,and babies in stollers and back packs. I was immediately enchanted with a stroller containing tiny twins. . . a boy (Liam) and girl (Addison). At only seven months old, they were being pushed and pulled along the 7.5 mile route by their parents. They were quite adorable; mom and dad were perspiring in the early morning sun! There were runners, joggers, brisk walkers and those walking slowly. I saw a young woman with a cast on her leg, an elder Navajo couple dressed in traditional clothing. The many children were in bright lime-green shirts skipping, singing, and laughing along with their parents!
The energy of the crowd was at once peaceful and enthusiastic, happy and bittersweet. Whether hikers were introspectively quiet or chatting away with others, we all shared in common one thing; we had been led to share a few hours of our lives with others who have been touched by cancer. Never mind the TShirts, water stations or give aways. Never mind the grilled chicken served at the top or the rock band playing 80’s tunes. What touched me and maybe in some way touched us all was the spirit of connection that equals a feeling of not being alone in our grief or our hope about cancer. The day was a celebration of life and courage.
With about two miles left to go, I was feeling pretty quiet, walking alone and not talking much to preserve my breath and drink in the beauty of the aspens. At that point, we were blessed by a visit with Daily Sun Reporter, Hillary Davis! She noticed our unique TShirts and asked if she could walk and talk with us for a while. I welcomed her questions; some of them were more difficult than others. We laughed and cried as we walked and talked. I was grateful for Jill’s soothing hand on my back and shoulder. The last two miles flew by. I arrived at the top knowing about Hillary’s beginning career as a journalist, her amazing cancer-surviving grandma, and the loss of her best friend in a bike accident. She arrived at the top knowing quite a bit about Wayne and Further Shore. You can read her article at this link.
When we got to the top at 10:50 a.m. (a mere three hours for the entire walk), Robert and I did not eat the chicken, but did enjoy the salad course. The four of us managed to shout a few lines of “We’re Not Gonna Take It Any More” along with the rock band and then we plunged into the sea of brown shirts waiting to board the busses for home. I saw a butterfly, a man juggling, Liam and Addison and their folks, the elder Navajo couple. Everyone seemed satisfied and a little tired. As we boarded the busses back to Flag High the ACS volunteers were there, cheering us on toward home, thanking us for hiking, and shouting “See you next year!” And I am thinking they probably will.
I know you will want to see ALL the pictures!