Sunday, September 19, 2010

MS Challenge Walk 2010

Last weekend was the MS Challenge Walk on the Cape. There are only a handful of these walks around the country and the Greater New England Chapter of the National MS Society puts on a great event! Usually this walk is 50 miles in 3 days. 20 miles on Day 1 and Day 2 and 10 miles on Day 3. This year they had to shorten it to 30 miles in 2 days due to the Jewish Holiday. Next year it is back to 50 miles though!!

I had heard a lot about this event from people who do it every year and they talked so highly of it that I just had to get involved but knew I could never walk that far! So my mom and I joined the crew and I'm so glad we did.

We got there early Friday morning. We were the crew for The Big Top Tent and I was the crew leader. The Big Top Tent is where the events take place. On Friday we spent the day setting up and decorating for the Friday night welcome party which was a 50s theme. You can't tell from the picture but it was REALLY windy. My mom was in charge of taping the centerpieces down and she had to use A LOT of tape. I worked on balloons and I think my fingers still hurt from making those knots. Thankfully one of the other volunteers, Carla, took over for me!

The caterer brought these tablecloths and made this centerpiece w/ the records which I think was such a cute idea. She borrowed them from her husband's collection. I can't believe people still have records!

There was a lot of food and the presentation was so pretty. The event was just a big party where people could eat and talk to old and new friends.

The caterers kept the food in the 50s theme and had a mini diner w/ hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, fries and onion rings. They also had malted milk shakes, root beer floats, mac and cheese and more.
Did I mention that they also serve alcohol at the MS Challenge Walk??? I was so surprised (but excited) to learn this. Who knew people could walk many miles then walk to come back and drink. Haha! Anyways they had beer and wine both Fri night and Sat afternoon/evening. Oh and all the food and drinks are FREE!

Dressing up was encouraged and since we were on the crew making this whole party happen we figured we would set a good example and participate. I'm not usually into the whole Halloween costume/dressing up thing but after finding this adorable costume I decided to play along. My mom has on a Pink Ladies jacket! We got a lot of compliments on our costumes.

Elvis made an appearance at the party too. Turns out he is a big supporter for MS and couldn't miss the event. He was even generous enough to pose for a picture for me. All and all the party was a lot of fun and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. That made all of our hard work well worth it!

By the end of the party we were definitely ready to go to bed. I was so tired that the whole sleeping in a cabin thing didn't even really bother me. Believe me I did check for bed bugs based on my last camping experience. The Sea Camps were bed bug FREE! We learned early the next morning that there is a traditional wake up call each year. Around 5:30 AM we heard a car beeping and blasting the song "It's a Beautiful Day" by U2. What a way to wake up - it was still dark and chilly. Good thing we had bacon to look forward to at breakfast!

Finally Day 1 of the walk arrived. It was a beautiful Cape Cod day perfect for the walkers (a little cool for the crew). We started out the day w/ an opening ceremony which was really nice. Several staff members spoke and there was a flag ceremony. There were 22 states represented at the walk so a person from each state carried their flag to the start line. There was also morning stretches which was fun to watch! Since it was Sept 11th we also remembered all the people who lost a loved one and our military who protect us. Then they were off!

Was the walkers left it was time for The Big Top Tent Crew to get to work! Fortunately we gained a new volunteer on Saturday. Soukie, a 4 month old lab puppy, kept me company a good part of the day. She was a welcome addition! So sweet and cute. We spent part of the day cleaning up from Friday night event then had to set up for the Candlelight Vigil for Saturday night.

It was a lot of work so we made sure to take a quick break at the beach. This beautiful view is just steps from The Big Top Tent.

This is a private beach for the Sea Camps and it is such a beautiful beach. The sand was SO soft. It was a little too chilly to hang out there for too long and we had to get back to work!

Here we are in our "Crew" shirts. You can't really tell here but the are a sage/olive green kinda color. The safety crew wore yellow and the medical color wore lime green. This was just one of our 3 FREE tee-shirts! So not only do you get free food and drinks but you get several shirts - have I convinced you to sign up yet?

Maybe this will convince you to join the crew or walk in 2011. . . FREE MASSAGES! Yes that is me looking deal on the table b/c I'm so relaxed. My back was sore from lifting so many heavy things so this was such a nice treat.

On Saturday when the walkers returned they had time to RELAX. We had set up lots of yummy snacks for them to eat and or course the beer and wine were being served. It was such a nice afternoon to be outside.

The evening program on Saturday was AMAZING. I don't want to say too much about it b/c I'm want you to be surprised if you are there next year! It was really special and I appreciate the people who were willing to participate and share their stories. At the end we lit candles in honor of those who have MS and for those who support us. Here we are w/ our new friend Carla who was a volunteer on The Big Top Crew too.

Here is a view w/ all the candles lit. It looked so pretty! So cool to see so many people come together to support MS. I feel like we always here so much about The American Cancer Society and their walks and events. . . well they've got nothing on The National MS Society. There are so many people involved to make these events awesome and so many walkers who want to find a cure. It is such a moving thing to see.

After the program many people went to bed - but not me! I went to the beach w/ Carla and my cabin mate, Susan to check out the "after party." Shocking to me that the walkers still had any every left to party but they did! We enjoyed a bonfire and some drinks. No s'mores but believe me I'll be bringing the supplies for next year (just another reason for you to join us!)

On Sunday we again cleaned up The Big Top Tent and also checked all the cabins. After we were all done at The Sea Camps my mom and I headed to Dennis where the pre-finish line and lunch is held. Everyone gets a tee-shirt. If you have MS you wear Orange and if you don't you wear Blue. It looks really cool to see those orange shirts mixed in w/ TONS of blue shirts. Again just another visual of all the people who support us.

Here we are in our shirts! They say "Walk With Purpose" which is such a simple phrase but packed w/ so much meaning. We cheered in the walkers at the pre-finish line and then had a delicious BBQ lunch.

The real finish line is in Hyannis. After all the walkers arrive in Dennis and have lunch we loaded up on school buses and drove over to the Hyannis bus station. There all the walkers, crew and volunteers walk together in a parade down Main St. It was really cool! There are many family members and friends cheering in the walkers.

There was a quick closing ceremony on the green and everyone got medals (even crew). My dad joined us at the closing ceremony too. And ANOTHER reason to participate in the walk next year is all the great people you meet - we had a great time getting to know Carla and look forward to seeing her next year (if not sooner).

Yes I'm already registered for 2011. It is only $25 if you register early which is such a great deal. I'm so glad I got involved in this event. It was such a fun and rewarding experience. I'm so excited to make this a tradition. My mom and I hope others may want to join us on the crew next year.

And rumor has it that The Bean Team will be represented at the 2011 Challenge Walk. My sister-in-law, Jenn and my cousin-in-law, Meghan both have verbally committed to walk 50 miles. They think it will be a nice weekend away from the kids! Haha. Don't let them walk alone. Join them - it is only 50 miles and you only have to raise $1,500 and I can guarantee you that you will feeling so great after this event (despite the blisters). Many of had said that this event is life changing. . . see for yourself.

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