These Boots Were Made for Walking
Rizzo is a giver. Every year she gives blood, sweat, and tears to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (now re-branded as Avon 39). Avon 39 is a two-day walk held in nine (now eight) cities throughout the United States with the goal of raising money to fight breast cancer. I think is an amazing cause and I’m always so proud to go and cheer Rizzo to the finish line. On Saturday, September 12, Rizzo will be walking in her eight city and I’ll have the privilege of cheering her on for the sixth time in Santa Barbara, California. To prepare you for the inevitable blog on what will not only be participation in the Avon 39 event but also the longest we will have gone away without taking Cece, I thought I’d share a brief history of my experiences at the Avon 39 events. This posting will consist primarily of bullet points and a few pictures from the previous events so I forgive you for not reading if you forgive me for not bringing my usual wit and sarcasm.
Charlotte, NC 2010
- I drove down to Charlotte late on Friday night because I had to work. I was going to be crashing at Vanessa (Rizzo's cousin) and Michael (Rizzo's cousin's husband) De La Rosa. I had never said a word to either of them. Work, traffic, and distance resulted in me arriving at their home between 1am and 2am on Saturday morning. I had to be at the event in about 3 hours. I know, I look well rested in the photo.
- I got to spend a lot of personal time with the Rizzo family. This isn't a big deal now but I'm not very good at meeting and being alone with new people. In fact, what I fear the most is having to be around and talk to new people so this was a big step for me.
- I do like to act like an fool which I learned was going to let me fit right in at these Avon Walk events. It seemed that puns, even graphic puns, were encouraged. T-shirts with slogans such as "Yes they are fake, the real ones tried to kill me", or "Save the boobs so you have something to look at while I'm talking" were everywhere.
- Most of all, I was amazed by the dedication of all the women and men who take the time and effort to complete a very challenging event. We aren't talking about super athletes (not to say some aren't athletic). We are talking about everyday people coming together with a common goal, to end breast cancer.
Chicago, IL 2011
- The Chicago walk gave Rizzo and I a chance to do lots of sight seeing in addition to lots of eating. Gino's East Pizza is my favorite pizza on Earth. It may be part nostalgia resulting from my visit at a teenager but I think it has more to do with the delicious deep dish goodness. Gino's was our first stop upon arriving. Rizzo didn't even bother to try to Chicago style Pizza. She got a thin crust pizza. She was missing out.
- The walk was beautiful and gave Rizzo lots of views of the City. The streets of Chicago made it a challenge for me to get to as many cheering stations but I did get to walk around a lot myself, visit some museums, and even watch some folks playing a pickup game of cricket in the park
- Rizzo held the banner for the Solo Strutters, a team of walkers that consist of single participants that didn't join the event as a team. Every year Rizzo gets together with the Solo Strutters team.
Rocky Mountains, CO 2012
- This was by far my favorite of all the Avon walk adventures. The sights were beautiful. The route covered many mountain tops and lakes. Not a bad place to be to cheer on a few hundred walkers.
- After the walk was over I took Rizzo to my favorite Mexican restaurant, Casa Bonitas. The food isn't the best in the world but you can't beat the entertainment. There is a waterfall in the middle of the restaurant with cliff divers and guys in gorilla suits swinging from vines. And even though the food isn't the best in the world it is all you can eat. Just raise the flag and some more enchiladas are on the way.
- Oh yeah, I guess I should mention that Rizzo and I got engaged at the finish line, so that was a pretty good day. I got some of the volunteers to take pictures but no one knew what I was going to do until I did it. It was great to be cheered by thousands of spectators while asking Rizzo to be my partner in crime.
Houston, TX 2013
- I think Houston was probably the least memorable trip thus far. Don't get me wrong, the dedication and determination of all the walkers was inspiring. I just wasn't impressed with the city. Houston feels more like a massive suburb than an actual city. It didn't matter we still managed to have fun.
- Rizzo's goal has always been to complete at least 26 of the 39 miles. On day one she tried for the full marathon but could barely walk by mile 24. She was carted back to the medical tent and wrapped in a blanket for a few hours. At the end of the day she was just a bit dehydrated but still nearly unable to walk. On day two, she insisted that she get in two more miles so we walked together backwards from the finish line one mile then back again to make sure she completed her goal.
New York, NY 2014
- New York was a memorable trip because Cece got to come along and cheer her Mom on to the finish line. We made sure she was dressed for the part.
- Cece and I got to spend a lot of time together in the hotel room and around New York City while Rizzo was walking.
- We ended up in a hotel suite by either accident or fate. Let me tell you, if you have to travel with a baby make sure you get a hotel suite that includes a bedroom with a door. It was amazing. Cece slept like a log in the bedroom and Rizzo and I could still relax in the sitting room. It was a wonderful gift.
- New York drivers are assholes.
- On the drive back from New York City we discovered a small little town in Pennsylvania called Kutztown. It is one of the greatest small towns we have ever run across. There is a brewery, Kutztown Brewery, that makes some wonderful beers. It also has a small university. Rizzo and I have decided that Cece will be attending college at either Louisville or Kutztown.
This concludes our broadcast day and an introduction to our Avon Walk trips. Be on the lookout for a recap of the adventures in Santa Barbara, CA. It's not too late to give a few sheckles to a good cause. Just click here to donate to the Avon Foundation and support Rizzo in her walk.