When I found out I was picked as an Energizer Keep Going® Blogger, I knew I was going to reach out to Cher Keller-Bodnar for her advice. She participated in the 2008 Susan G. Komen Tampa 3-Day for the Cure®. She is also on the Board of the Directors of the Central Florida Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I have volunteered alongside her for a few years now, she is a hard worker and is very passionate. When she heard I was going to participate in the 3-Day for the Cure, she sent me a really nice email wishing me luck and I immediately asked her for her advice and it turned into this interview. Thank you, Cher, for taking the time to answering my questions!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and and how you came to be involved with Central Florida Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure? What motivated you to start volunteering?
I became involved with Susan G. Komen for the Cure in Pittsburgh, Pa. in 1997. I put together a team for my office each year and we participated in the Race for the Cure on Mother’s Day. As my two granddaughters got older (at 8 & 10), they joined and did the Race with me as a Mother’s Day gift. After we finished the race, we would go to brunch. When they reached high school age, their friends joined us. It became our tradition and in 2010 on Mother’s Day weekend, we three participated in the Atlanta race with my granddaughter’s office’s team.
In 2004, a young girl, who attended high school in Pittsburgh years before my granddaughter, passed away from breast cancer. She was misdiagnosed at age 22 and died at age 26. I want to continually inform these young girls about the disease and I know they will continue to give back by participating in Komen for the Cure events.
What do you do for Komen Central Florida? How long have you been involved?
I moved to Orlando in 2005 from Pittsburgh and started a new job. The office had not participated in the Central Florida Race for the Cure, so I formed a team and called the local Komen Affiliate. I was invited to attend a Race meeting in April 2005 and have been involved with Komen Central Florida ever since. In 2005, I was on the Team committee, 2006 and 2007 served as Sponsorship chair, 2008 involved in site prep and both in 2009 and 2010 as the Food Chair.
What made you want to participate in the 2008 Komen Tampa 3-Day for the Cure?
I saw an ad in my local paper about a team being formed from my area for the 3-Day for the Cure. I called the woman listed and asked if I could join. We had a total of 5 of us sign up and we raised over $20,000. Our team was called “Steppin Up”.
Do you have any tips and advice for first time walkers like me?
My tips for first time walkers, is daily training…it doesn’t have to be far but daily keeps you in the groove.
What was your training routine? Was there anything you would have changed about your routine?
The members of the team I joined all lived locally. I was not able to train with them as I work in Maitland and did not get home early enough. My training began with a 2 mile walk each evening in mid July and on Saturday and Sunday I’d up that to 4 miles. Then, gradually I worked my way up until I could walk approximately 15 miles each day. I walked barefoot, on the beach 8 to 10 miles, at 6 a.m. on the weekends and it was quite an experience and very relaxing. The only change to my routine would have been to include someone to train with. Because I trained alone, I walked at a much faster pace than my teammates so I was always waiting for them to catch up with me.
Were there items that you packed that you were glad you packed? Items you couldn’t live without?
I took an air mattress and it was a savior to me after each day’s walk. If you want to borrow it, you may. The pump runs on batteries.
What is your best memory from the 3-Day for the Cure?
I have several special memories of the 3-Day for the Cure. A woman pushed herself in a wheel chair for all three days, her sign said, “Walk with me, don’t push me”. I figured if she could push herself for three days, I surely could drag myself across the finish line if need be.
I also walked with a 81 year old woman, who had flown down from New Jersey, to walk with her sister who was a survivor. I walked with a doctor from a third world country who was fully dressed in the burkah of her country. It was extremely hot and I approached her and asked if she was going to be ok. She told me that she walked 2 hours each day to work in the hospital dressed as such and that there was only a few mammography machines in her entire country. She was so impressed with the number of young girls who were walking, the women of her country do not do the self-breast exams and by the time they find something wrong it is well advanced.
My most memorable though, was a young woman walking alone on the last day. The signs were posted 1 mile to go, etc. and as I approached she was crying…I asked what was wrong and if I could help. She was so disappointed in the signs, she said she didn’t think she could make it as they had said 1 mile for what seemed like many miles. She told me she was walking in honor of her mother who had passed away in March of that year. She had been told by her doctor that she should not attempt the 3-Day for the Cure due to some medical issues and that she would never finish. Her husband had offered to donate the money to Komen for the Cure in her mom’s honor and asked her not to walk. She was so down, that I slowed down and told her I would walk with her and that she would finish. When we got to within site of the finish line, she saw her two young children and her husband waiting for her…It was quite a sight. I suggested she take that “3-Day shirt” that you get when you cross the finish line to her doctor’s appointment the next time she went.
We raised over $4 million that weekend and it was an experience I’ll always remember. At age 62, that was really an amazing feat for me.
Thanks to Cher for answering my questions and I look forward to borrowing her air mattress.
Also, to let you know, Paula of Frosted Fingers, another Keep Going Blogger is participating in the Komen Chicago 3-Day for the Cure this weekend. Be sure to visit her blog and follow her on twitter. Good luck, Paula! I know you’ll do great! I will be following here and tweeting her to cheer her on.