So in 2009 I was sitting on the couch watching TV, eating chips and feeling sorry for myself when I saw a commercial that caught my attention. Something about a 60km walk through the city of Montreal, breast cancer and making a difference. The commercial was pink – I like the colour pink which is probably why I paid attention to begin with. I quickly googled this Weekend Walk and obtained the information that definitely ended up being life changing for me.
In the spur of a moment and in a blink of an eye I had registered for the then called Weekend to End Breast Cancer 60 km Walk benefiting the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital. Within minutes I had recruited my team and made my first donation. My goal was to raise $2000 which was the minimum required to participate in the event. I’m a very impulsive all action kind of girl. Every major decision I’ve ever made in my life has been on the spot. I don’t analyze things. Once something catches my interest I go for it. That evening I read. I read about the hospital. I read about the foundation and what it does, where the money goes, what the event is about, what is required. I did my research and I found myself being drawn to this cause. Perhaps it’s because I’m a woman and women’s issues matter to me. Perhaps because I saw this as a reason to actually get out there and do something. Maybe I simply needed the accountability and the responsibility of fulfilling a fitness goal. Whatever the reasons were that drew me in, typical behaviour from an addict – I immersed myself in it. I lived and breathed everything about this fundraiser. I rallied up my troops, I went door to door asking for donations. I solicited companies, employers, colleagues, family, friends both near and far. My team and I hosted garage sales, car washes, bake sales. You name it – we did it. We trained together! We would schedule “training walks” and we would hit the streets of Montreal on a mission. With our babies in tow, pushing and pulling the strollers we walked, and walked and walked some more until the blisters on our feet eventually hardened and the cramps in our calves became bearable. “Team Elpida” was then formed. (elpida is a Greek word that translates to hope).
My 280 pound body moved; albeit slow, I forced it to move. Baby steps then longer strides until I can say that even at that weight and with the physical limitations that plagued my body I was somehow able to walk 60 km in 2 days. I fought through exhaustion and heat stroke. I suffered through cramping and crippling arthritis in my knees and joints. Pushed through a sprained and swollen foot and continued to move one step at a time. I stopped many times along the way, so slowly at times that the sweeping bus had to take me to the following check stop – but nevertheless I walked.
I look back today and although I barely recognize that woman in the pictures I can still relate to what motivated her. The need to prove to herself that she can. “Whether you think you can or your can’t – you’re right”. I proved many things to myself that year. I proved to myself that I’m capable. That’s I’m strong enough to do anything I put my mind to. That we need as women to lift one another and support each-other. I learned that alone we are only a drop in the bucket but together we fill the damn pool. I learned the importance of self discipline and self acceptance and self love. I learned to walk a little taller, stand up a little straighter and put one foot in front on the other without worrying too much about how fast I get to my destination; as long as I get there.
We participated in the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers annually from 2009 – 2012 and collectively as a team we raised $10,000 for the Jewish General Hospital. No back scratching or big corporate sponsorships or heavy hitting check writing executives – this money was raised the good old fashioned way by pounding the pavement with an open hand and an open heart.
These days I’ve managed to pick up the pace a little bit and have turned my slow walk to a slow run. I’m lighter on my feet and am able to do a longer distance than before but I’m still not able to do it on my own. I don’t have that kind of discipline. Now I rely on my KEFI Fit™ classes and my members to keep me moving as without them perhaps I’d find myself walking back towards my couch instead of towards an active lifestyle. All this to say, friendships MATTER. People MATTER. Having a support group MATTERS. Comradery MATTERS. Maybe if my friends hadn’t agreed to sign up with me so many years ago and take on this challenge my life would have taken a different turn.
Get a group of strong like minded women together and see what we’re able to do for ourselves, for each other and for everyone else. If you don’t have that network – you’ll find it in our classes. I guarantee it.
My Team Elpida back in 2009 (Barbara and Martha) – My KEFI Team today.