Whitfield County Correctional workers raise money for breast cancer group
WHITFIELD COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -- They had blisters on top of blisters by the time they were through, but three Whitfield County Correctional Center workers say a little pain was a small price to pay for participating in the 2012 Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer.
"I don't know if it would have been as much fun if you didn't know that the money was going toward something useful and something that everybody may need one day...you just never know," said Dia Curtis, who walked 30 miles in two days along the streets of Atlanta, along with fellow workers Angie Amos and Beth Gomez and more than 800 of their new friends.
The three local women were inspired to participate in the event after another co-worker, Misty Kovach, was diagnosed with breast cancer late in 2010. She has since undergone treatment and returned to work.
The 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer aims to raise money and awareness for Georgia breast cancer organizations, a mission that in less than 10 years has generated more than $8 million to fund 169 grants, assisting programs in Georgia that help provide awareness, education, diagnosis, treatment, and much more. This year, the walk raised more than $500,000.
To prepare for their 20-mile walk on Saturday, Oct. 6 and another 10-mile walk a day later, Curtis and Amos had been training for two months, while Gomez was already a religious runner.
Still, the journey was definitely not an easy one for any of the women. "To give you an idea of how hard it was, Beth had run a half-marathon two weeks before we went," Curtis said, "and she talked about how our 20-mile walk was harder than the half-marathon she'd run. You definitely have to train for this, months in advance."
It wasn't necessarily the walking that was so hard, Curtis said, "but you encounter things like the blisters on your feet, and that's what starts making it rough."
Amos suggests the idea of investing in some good walking shoes might be worth the money. "I think the shoes would matter a lot," she said.
Curtis wouldn't argue, noting that her husband had unsuccessfully tried to talk her into being fitted for a good pair of walking shoes at a custom shoe store in Atlanta. "I wish now I had went and spent the extra money and got those shoes because I think it would have made a difference," she said.
Still, though, the three women made it to the finish line, despite the agony of "de-feet." Curtis even had to battle the effects of a lingering stomach virus that threatened to keep her at home.
"I felt so bad, but I told myself that I had not worked this hard and raised this much money just to stay at home," she said. "Then I also started thinking about the breast cancer victims who don't have an option as to whether they have to go do something – they just have to carry on through their illness. I'm thinking, I've just got a stomach virus, I couldn't imagine what they're going through."
Once the women made it to Atlanta, helping make the journey much more tolerable was the tremendous support of well-wishers along the way, including the motorcade participants who blocked off intersections for the walkers and then constantly shouted words of encouragement to them. "You wouldn't think that people cheering you on would make a difference," Curtis said, "but I really think it did."
Amos agreed. "It makes a big difference, them saying things like ‘Good Job!' and ‘You're doing great!'"
"They definitely lightened the spirit of how rough it was," Curtis said. "You pass one of them and you're thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, I'm not gonna make it!' and then here they'd come, hollering ‘Let's go! Let's go!' It just pumps you up, and you're like, ‘All right, let's go!' If it wasn't for them, I don't think you could make it. I really don't."
The last mile on Sunday was an especially emotional one for everyone. "Everybody joined up about a half a mile to the finish line because they wanted everybody to walk the finish line together," Curtis said.
"And then people had family members there cheering them on like on the sidelines," Amos said. "That was very sweet."
Cancer survivors who couldn't walk the entire route were also invited to join in on the last half-mile, "which was great," Curtis said. The three local women raised their $3,000 minimum requested by event organizers but say they still have several T-shirts that they'll sell for a bargain to begin raising money for next year.
"And if anybody wants to join and walk with us in 2013, we're up for that too because I think the more people that we can get to go, it'll be that much more fun," Curtis said. "Not only does the money go to a good cause, which is awesome, but we had so much fun! You meet so many new people."
Says Amos, "I can't wait until next year!"
For more information about taking part in next year's event, e-mail Curtis at the above address. You can also visit www.2daywalk.orgor call 404-531-4111.