Monday, November 10, 2008

A Love Letter....

This is an "I Love You" letter to the Tiaras and the crew and my family and friends and everyone else that made this weekend possible. And it wouldn't have been possible without so many of you. That whole "it takes a village" thing applies to 3-Day walkers, too!

The lead-up to the 3-Day is a long process involving recruiting and fundraising and training. None of us could do what we do without our family and friends who watch kids for us while we train or make donations or get our kids off the bus while we're gone on the walk. You rock!

THURSDAY, November 6

No trip to the 3-Day would be complete without the Boobie Mobile. You'd be amazed at how people let you into traffic when you have a bra wired to your tailgate. We got quite a few honks as we headed north, so we were sure we were on the right path! Take note of what the Boobie Mobile looks like. That'll come into play later.

You couldn't read it in my pictures, but across the front windshield, we put, "We're pissed off at cancer!"

This year I was blessed to make a treasured new friend with the 3-Day. Saralyn Carrillo is on staff and she and I have spent many, many hours on the phone. This summer, I was unbelievably honored and humbled when she asked if I'd like to carry a flag during the Opening Ceremonies. Wow. And then, as if it couldn't get any better, Saralyn asked one day if anyone else on my team would be up for carrying a flag. I gave her a few names and shared their stories with her. And when we showed up for rehearsal on Thursday, there were three of us there.

The really scary part isn't that the other two Tiaras that were chosen were survivors. It's that they're survivors who are my age. With young children just like I have. Stephanie Roberts and Allison Migl are my heros.

Last year, Allie's sister Melody walked with us. We call Melody "Lipstick," but we'll get to that later. (Although, I will tell you it has nothing to do with pit bulls.) Melody and Allie were both supposed to walk last year, but Allie's reconstruction ended up being the week of the 3-Day. So Melody walked for her.

I was assigned the "Victories" flag. I was just glad they didn't give me "Patience." I thought that might have been a bit hypocritical.

This is the survivor's circle with Allie and Stephanie on the left.

My job was to walk down this little chute and up onto the stage carrying the "Victories" flag. Here I am trying not to knock out the lighting as I go up on stage.

I could have carried this flag, too.

I was pretty much coasting through practice. Clowning around a bit and having a good time. Until I looked down that chute and Ed Basham was standing in the middle of it. Arms crossed and just watching as Joan walked down the steps of the stage holding the "Daughter" flag. Joan is Stephanie Gaworski's Mom. And Ed was just standing there. And I was just crying. I knew it was going to be hard for them this weekend.

But at the same time it was great to spend the weekend with them, as well. Out of 3200 walkers, I saw Joan everywhere! It was great to see her taking her stand. She walked all 60 miles. I'm so very proud of her.

Thursday evening our team met Scotty P's in Plano. We weren't all there, but a good number of us were. It was great to finally meet the new members of our team who I'd been visiting with for so long! And it was great to see old friends who I hadn't seen in a while.

FRIDAY, November 7

We stayed in a hotel in Allen, so we'd be close to Southfork Ranch for the opening ceremonies. We were supposed to all catch a shuttle to Southfork on Saturday, but it didn't all work out like that. Some of us did, but the rest rode in my truck with Anthony, also known as my driver.

Friday morning was cold, but not nearly as cold as the last two years. This was a bearable cold. It was still dark, and since this was the first time we'd be walking in daylight savings time, I knew we'd have to be at the front of the pack to get into camp early in the afternoon. We got their way early -- before they even opened the gates.

My sweet, old (she's older than me!) friend, Kayren Babcock, walked with us this year. Here she cops a feel on a Gear & Tent Crew member as we dropped off our luggage. Check out those eyes!

I had to sign in by 6:00 a.m. for my flag-carrying, but knowing me you'll understand that I really had to pee first.

So I headed over to break in one of the brand-new, clean Porta Potties. My first of the weekend. In a row of about 25 Porta Potties. And I got trapped. No toilet paper. And it was cold. And it was dark. The light of my cell phone wasn't enough to find the spare toilet paper I carry in my backpack when I walk, so I called Suzi and asked if she loved me enough to bring me some toilet paper.

Luckily she did, so I hovered in the cold, dark Porta Potty with the door cracked open calling her name until she and the toilet paper arrived. Well, I promptly began to use said toilet paper and then..... YIKES!!!! The door opened and there was a man!!! I had forgotten to re-lock the Porta Potty! Praise God for the cover of darkness!!

Slightly rattled, I headed over to where we were supposed to meet with the flags. One of the other walkers who was carrying a flag didn't show up in time, so they asked if any of us had team members nearby. I said I did, and what did they need? We have it all! Old ones, young ones, women, a man.... They asked for a man, and I was glad because if I'd gone over there and picked a woman out of our team, everyone else would have wondered why they didn't get picked!

This is sweet Joan carrying the "Daughter" flag.

Here I am going up on stage with my "Victories" flag. I'm the one in pink.

This is a really cool shot. You can't totally see Anthony and me because of the sign, but we were there!

Here are Stephanie & Allie in the Survivor's Circle.

As the walkers come out of Southfork, they just keep coming and coming and coming. There were 3200 walkers this year -- an amazing number.

The "Talent" met up on Southfork Road. Suzi, Eli, Cissa and I had a mini-reunion right there in the road. Eli is expecting a baby and was only supposed to walk about a mile, but she walked nine. AND THEN, she was at camp when I got there -- setting up tents!!! What a mess!

Of course, Suzi brought treats for all the dogs along the way. Sweet Maxine wasn't out this year, but there were lots of other dogs in her place!
This is Pink Beard Barry. He's walking in all 14 of the Breast Cancer 3-Day walks this year!

I made it to the end of Southfork Road but my foot was starting to bother me. I was totally paranoid about messing up my foot and not being able to enjoy the rest of the weekend. If I was going to mess it up, I needed to wait until Sunday. My plan was to catch a sweep van to the next pit stop, getting ahead of my team. Then, I planned to walk out of the pit stop a ways, and catch a sweep to the next one. That was how I planned to go about my day.

Not so. I got to the sweep van and asked them to take me to the pit stop. They weren't quite ready, and apparently there aren't many walkers asking to sweep after only a mile. So we waited. When we finally go the go-ahead to leave that spot, we were told to go back to Southfork to pick up a few walkers who didn't even make it out. But we couldn't go up the road because it was completely full of walkers.

So we went around to the other end of the road. It was blocked off and they weren't letting anyone in -- even 3-Day personnel. Finally they let us in, but they wouldn't let us into Southfork. All through this process I was telling them I had to go pee and asking if I could get out of the van and find another way to the pit stop. Nope. Against the rules. So I sat.

We finally got into Southfork, and the sweep van driver was told to sit a bit to wait for further directions. She opened the door and suggested I use one of the Porta Potties then get back in. I told them not to worry about me when I didn't come back. I jumped out and headed across the prairie like Laura Ingalls in search of Anthony and my truck. Found him, jumped in, and asked him to take me to someplace that had flushing toilets.
Here's a shuttle van with a great slogan!

Anthony and I spent the rest of the morning cheering on walkers at Collin Creek Mall. It was great. We had a blast. I wasn't screwing up my foot, I had handy flushable toilets nearby in La Madeleine and we were able to relieve our teammates of all the cold-weather clothes they had piled on that morning.

I'd do a few silly cheers from my boobie repertoire and really tried to get Anthony to yell, "I love Boobies!" He resisted. Said they'd hit him. Whatever. He just had to make it his own. By the time we were done, he'd see another guy walking and say, "Now there's a man who loves boobies." It was always good for a laugh!

We stayed at that cheering station until lunch time, ran and got Suzi a "Fat Coke" and met our group over at lunch. But we didn't eat. The lunch line was unbelievably long. We picked up two walkers who were "done" for the day -- Kayren and Taunda -- and headed out to find a way to serve our fellow walkers.

Boy, did we find it. We got to camp -- which didn't look much like a camp at that point. It was still all grass. The 1500 pink tents were in a pile. Only a few were set up. Of course, three of those belonged to Cissa, Suzi & I. Our sweet Eli, who should have been at home sitting on the couch eating Bon-Bons, had brought her mom over to set up our tents and acquire our luggage. What a blessing!

We quickly ran Eli off and sent her home. And then we got to work. This is where I really saw Jesus in my fellow walkers. Anthony, Taunda and Kayren worked constantly for the next 2-3 hours to set up tents. Constantly. I drug our team's luggage back and forth from the trucks -- I will note that I had help from a few new friends. A few of the Gear & Tent crew members helped me pull and move the luggage for our 50 or so walking team members.

As we worked, our teammates began to come into camp. Because of the work Anthony, Taunda and Kayren were doing, our teammates had a place to lie down as soon as they got into camp. While they rested, our three tent builders continued to work. Our teammates were able to get showers as soon as they got into camp -- long before dinner, before the long lines would form at the showers, and before the temperatures would drop. And Anthony, Taunda and Kayren kept working. Never a complaint. No whining about how they needed showers. Those three really have the hearts of servants and I feel blessed to have spent that time with them.
And the way our team members responded to that service was so cool to watch. They were so grateful and let my friends know over and over how much they were appreciated! Just as Abbie's soccer team has games where they totally function as a team, this was a moment where Team Tiara did just that!

I eventually got a shower and headed off to the dining tent for some spaghetti -- a meal I'd kind of been looking forward to. We'd just sat down when the last walker came into camp. On the 3-Day, the first walker into camp is not celebrated. This isn't a race. But the last walker is highly celebrated. The camp isn't complete until the last walker is in.

So we went outside to watch the flag raising, and then went back in to our now-warm spaghetti. I was just starting to eat when my cell rang. It was Shynell letting me know Jill had been taken to the hospital. Shynell's husband Mark was taking her to Plano Medical Center to meet them.

I jumped in to go along. We had been planning to sing Dancing Queen during Karaoke, but this was far more important. So Suzi scratched us off the Karaoke list, and I headed to the hospital. And God watched over me. Normally, I would not have been dragging my backpack, but I had to have it in the dining hall with me that night. So... I had it and was ready to go with Shynell and Mark immediately. In my hot pink Betty Boop pajama pants, of course.

We found Jill in the emergency room. She had dehydrated, but they weren't totally sure what was going on. She didn't have any symptoms all day, but as soon as she got into camp she was slammed by it. They gave her 2.5 bags of fluid and ran a ton of tests and said she could go back to camp.

So about four hours after I hadn't eaten my spaghetti, here I was back at camp. "Lights out" on the 3-Day is at 9:00 -- and it was after 10:00. I stopped by the Porta Potties and was thankful I had Suzi's lantern with me. And thankful this one had toilet paper!

SATURDAY, November 8

By Saturday morning, I had figured out that the cold was probably why my foot had such issues on Friday -- that I just needed to save my walking for after it warmed up. So Saturday I set out in the Boobie Mobile to see what I could do to help my fellow walkers.

Now... It's a good thing I grew up in Old Fluvanna. Let me tell you, driving through a pickup through a herd of cattle isn't all that different than driving the Boobie Mobile through a herd of women. They just wander right in front of you without looking, stray off into the road, that kind of thing. It was fun.

I picked up Taunda and Sherry (Team Talent) at one of the pit stops. They helped me get the tiaras together for my walk later that day. Sherry needed to have her foot checked, but the med tent lines were forever long. So we went way up to the front and hit the lunch stop about 15 minutes after it opened. This was the only time I "officially" ate lunch all weekend. But there was hardly anyone there yet. No lines. Whoop!

After lunch, we left Sherry there and picked up Jill. Jill was looking much better than Friday night in the emergency room -- but still had on flip flops and was moving slow. The three of us headed over to a cheering station to set up shop with A'Lise -- also known as our Champion Walker Stalker.

The cheering station ROCKED. My friend Lynne came out to see us -- I'm trying to get her to walk with us next year. "That Girl" would love the 3-Day!

The biggest surprise -- which immediately made me cry -- was when Adam Earls found me. Nichole and the kids weren't far behind. Nic walked with us last year at 5 mos. pregnant and then Addison was born a few weeks later at 27 weeks. She's a miracle baby! And this was the first time I'd seen her.

Nic is walking in San Diego week after next. She's got a great team out there -- Fight Back for Your Rack!

Cheryl brought their girls out to see Anthony. I told Emily that Biggsy would be jealous when he found out I got to see her!

When Suzi, Caroline, Lori and Michelle came through, I jumped in and started walking with them. That made my Saturday walk about 7 miles. Not bad considering what I've dealt with with my foot the last few months. But it held up great and I had a great time walking with them through Plano!

Of course, Talent is never far away on the 3-Day. The Stoker crew was waiting for us just down the street. I love that "Future Boob Man" shirt Amy has on!

I need to ask these girls who does their hair!

Suzi and I decided to go to the Memory Tent together on Saturday. Our friend Rex had put together a video of Steph and David, and we wanted to watch it together. Well, coincidence is what happens when God chooses to remain anonymous. When we got there, someone else was watching the video. We decided to wait until we could use both sets of headphones -- and see the whole thing straight through.

So I wrote to my Mom in the memory book. And then, as we waited, in came Cissa and Sherry (girls from the commercial), one of Steph's co-workers, and then Steph's Mom, sister and nephew. When it was our turn, we unplugged the headphones so we could all hear it and watched it together. And cried. And laughed a little. And mostly cried.

There's a 3-Day team called the Asphalt Angels, and as we were watching the video, one of their team members was standing on the back side of the tent. And the way the light was hitting everything, her sillouette was placed on the white wall of the tent -- just behind the little DVD player. So as we watched Stephanie talk about her cancer and her hope for a cure, there were angel wings right behind her.

How cool is that???

This is what the dining tent looks like. It's a very important place. That's where the heat is. We LIKE the dining tent!

The dining tent is also where the entertainment is. Here's the dance party -- there were about 342 men walking in the 3-Day. And they were all up on stage. Well, not quite!

Since we weren't there to embarass ourselves with Karaoke on Friday, they had some really great entertainment take our place. This Chicka stole the show!

This guy was 1st Runner-up!

Oh, and you couldn't have a 3-Day without the Lost & Found Fashion Show!

Where you find women, you'll find shopping. And foot massages. And cookies. And all sorts of cool stuff.

This was our Home Away from Home. Tent # A-73. And here's a shout-out to our friends who learn from Mrs. Evans, Mrs. Elmer, Mrs. Bowman and Mrs. Smith. They provided posters to decorate our tents. We were so lucky!

SUNDAY, November 9

Abbie's Birthday.

So I missed most of Abbie's birthday this year. I got home for the last hour or so of her birthday. That was hard. As a Mom, I'd never missed one of my children's birthdays. But I kept telling myself that I was walking so Abs would have many, many birthdays. We had already celebrated Abs' birthday with a trip to the zoo on Tuesday, so she felt well-celebrated. But it was still hard not to be there with her!

Sunday morning we once again jumped into servant mode and hit the trail -- just not the walking trail. We took Michelle McMillan's car over to SMU where we found a PRIME parking lot right next to closing ceremonies. Then, we drove up to Allen and got all the cars that we had parked up there -- so we could just go straight back to Houston rather than having to drive up to Allen first.

We dropped Anthony, Mary & Jill off at the lunch stop and Mindi, Taunda and I went to church. Remember that picture of the Boobie Mobile at the top of my Love Letter? Well, that's what we drove to church. We had a hard time deciding which end of it might be more of an issue. The windshield that said, "We're Pissed Off At Cancer!" or the back window which read, "Honk if you Love Boobies" -- and sported a pink bra just underneath. We opted for the windshield and parked it in the back corner of the lot where you couldn't see the bra.

Now... Here is how God worked in my life this weekend in a way that really didn't have anything to do with the 3-Day. Biggs and I have both struggled with finding a church since we've moved to Houston. We've had this whole comparison thing going on and we just haven't been able to find a place like The Branch. And that has been hard.
So Sunday morning we get to The Branch. Part of my wanting to go was for Mindi. She was really hurting and couldn't do the walk anymore. And I thought it would be a blessing to her. Part of it was selfish. I wanted to get "Branch Fix." I'd been yearning to be in a strong Acapella service again. To hear Chris preach -- all of it.

I didn't get my "Branch Fix." But what I got was better. I did get to see some dear, sweet, much-missed friends. That was a huge blessing. But it's kind of like when you see an old boyfriend and he isn't exactly what you remember. The Branch isn't The Branch that I loved anymore.

With the addition of the new campus at Vista Ridge, our friends aren't all in one place anymore. Many of the people I would have loved to have seen just weren't there. The numbers were down in 2nd service due to that as well. It wasn't the same without Robin. They have a new worship leader, and while I'm sure he's great, he just isn't Robin. But the biggest change and the one that hurt the worst was that there was no Garden of Prayer. That was such a precious time for us. And I miss it dearly. And in this instance, when Mindi needed prayer for healing, Brother Eddy did pray over her, but it just didn't seem the same.
What was the same was that The Branch is still a "we'll take you where you are" kind of place. That was a good thing because not only was the potentially-offensive Boobie Mobile sitting in the parking lot, but we weren't exactly dressed in our Sunday Best. We looked like 3-Day walkers, head to toe. I had on my 3-Day cap with my feather boa hairclip holding my hair up in a ponytail. I had on my hot pink Betty Boop pajamas (over the little pink tennis skirt I walk in) and a pink jacket that honors my Mom. Credentials hanging around my neck and New Balance tennis shoes. And they still took me in and loved on my friends and I. I did notice a couple of grins, but nothing too major.

And I have to say I love the way they do the DVD when Chris isn't preaching there in person. They put this image of him preaching up on the wall right below the baptistry. It's pretty close to life size and he still moves around. And a couple of times I had to catch myself because I didn't remember I was looking at a DVD. Now that is cool.

And the blessing is that I feel somewhat released now to settle in with a new church. No place is like The Branch. But The Branch as I knew it doesn't exist anymore. And I feel a peace about all that now.
Taunda and I dropped Mindi off at SMU and parked my car there. Then, A'Lise drove us up the road to a pit stop where we could jump back in the mix and start walking. I was able to give away all the tiaras that were left (the ones with Mom's picture on them.) As I walk past people who are walking alone or are struggling I give them one and let them know my Mom will walk with them. It's an active way for me to involve her in the 3-Day and it really means a lot to the people she walks with.

I did about 5 miles on Sunday. Not bad. I would have loved to have done more, but I think God just had that other plan for me. I crossed the finish line with Ed & Sherry (Team Talent) and their friend Pam. That was great. I saw Steph's mom a lot that day. What a blessing!
The Finish Line!!!
Here are 3200 walkers headed into closing ceremonies....

Here are a few pictures of our girls from closing ceremonies.

Here are Allie & Stephanie carrying their flags into closing ceremonies.

Tracye. Sharon & Carla

Kayren & I had a blast!

2/3 of "The Michelles"
Sisters fighting for a Cure!
We couldn't do what we do without A'Lise. M'Lys was supposed to come in for the 3-Day but got sick and had to stay in Midland. So A'Lise had to work twice as hard! She rocks!

I'm so glad Carla finally gave in and agreed to do the walk with me!

Here I am with our poster girl, Cissa!

Team Tiara Rocks!!!!

In 2006, when Lisa and I walked together we raised over $6000, and the DFW 3-Day raised over $6.3 million.

In 2007, we had 17 team members, but only 13 of us were able to walk. We raised over $38,000 and the DFW 3-Day raised over $6.5 million.

This year, we had 67 team members and about 50 of us walked. To date, we have raised over $118,000 and the DFW 3-Day has raised over $7.9 million.

And we're not done.

If you'd like to make a donation for this year, please go to our website and donate under the name of a team member who has not reached the $2200 mark.

If you'd like to join us next year, check out our 2009 Website. Click on "Join Team." Remember, to walk you have to raise $2300 next year. While we'll try to help you raise your funds if you need it, we learned this year that we just can't make any guarantees. You need to be open to fundraising if you're going to be a walker.

To crew, you don't have to raise any money. You just have to have the heart of a servant and love to make people happy!!! Crew rocks!

When you register by December 31 and enter the code name "Legacy" you save $35 on your registration fee!

Thank you for making it possible to do what we do!

Much Love,



Mindi said...

Awesome post D'Lyn! I am actually really glad that my knees messed up so that I could spend all that time with you! You're amazing and an awesome, loving, dedicated, and selfless Team Captain. Team Tiara and I LOVE YOU!

aussammom said...

D'Lyn, I love your blog!! I linked it yesterday to my Avon team Solo Strutters USA, many could relate with their husbands. I know it is soon after but have you thought about crewing the Avon walk for Breast Cancer in Houston? just a thought....

Anonymous said...

Yea! for Team Tiara! Yea! for you, my friend! Yea! for the survivors! Yea! for those watching from heaven! Yea! for all the hearts you have touched! Yea! for those people you will never know that your enthusiasm and inspiration has raised money for so that they may have a greater experience here on earth! Yea! for your mom! I know she is so proud of you she is just bursting! And so am I! I love you and what you do!
Kelly Owen

Kayren said...

I am trying to post but can't see through my tears- what an amazing recap of the weekend seen through your eyes- I wondered where you were, how you were and what you were up to so much - I loved every moment of this weekend! Thank you Thank you for getting me to walk this year and I am definitely on for next year!! I love you friend!

Kate said...

Wow! Just awesome!