When we were invited to be breakfast sponsors for last weekend's Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, I had no idea what would be involved other than getting up at 3 am to serve bagels to 3,000 (mostly) women. There were the details of arranging to collect the bagels and cream cheese from Booeymongers, and how to squeeze 3,000 bagels and cream cheese into just 2 vehicles. Six of us (plus 2 adorable children) from National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, had volunteered, all eager to help in the great cause.
When I arrived at Constitution and 15th at 4:30 AM, donned in one of the pink sweatshirts we had made for the NIHA volunteer staff, there were already many eager and smiling volunteers who had arrived before me. How fabulous it was to see such enthusiasm and passion so early in the morning. The setting was also awe inspiring, with the brightly lit Washington Monument rising in the night sky and the almost full moon nestled beside it.
The walkers' arrival started with a trickle and was soon up to an avalanche. While we were furiously passing out bagels, we were introducing the hungry walkers to another risk assessment tool for breast cancer, Breast Thermography. These women who were all so passionate about finding a cure for breast cancer, were very excited to hear about "prevention". It does give one a sense of leverage over an unknown future.
At the opening ceremony at 6:30 am, as various speakers were telling their very heartfelt and emotional stories of loss or triumph, the motto of the event rang throughout the sea of walkers, "We're in it to end it!" There were very few dry eyes and mine were no exception.
As the walk began sharply at 7am, the volunteers stood along the sidelines and cheered the walkers on as they passed before us. As I think back over that morning, I am overwhelmed at the power that a group of just 2,900 people all with a single focus and vision have. Imagine what we can do. The feeling of being in this charged atmosphere will stay with me for a very long time. NIHA will involved in many more community events for great causes, to that I'm committed!
Katherine Shegrud is Director of Practice Development at National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, an integrative medical and dental practice serving the Washington, D.C, Maryland and Virginia metropolitan area.