MANATEE COUNTY — Just the thought of walking 60 miles in three days gives Kathy Wright chills.
And not because of the grueling pace.
Wright is one of several East County residents who will participate in the Tampa Bay Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Oct. 29-31. The walk, one of 15 nationwide, raises money for breast cancer research and support and begins at Sand Key Park in Clearwater and ends at Spa Beach Park in St. Petersburg.
Walkers will complete about 20 miles per day and sleep at designated campsites along the route.
Wright completed the event three years ago, walking in honor of her grandmother, who died of breast cancer, and her mother-in-law, a survivor.
“You have no idea how many people this (breast cancer) affects,” Wright said. “You hear story after story after story, and it just gives you goosebumps.
“It’s an awesome, awesome experience,” she said.
Wright is walking with the Bikers Raising Awareness Patrol team, aka BRA Patrol. Several other teams from Manatee and Sarasota also include East County walkers. Angel Birch and Linda Benedict both will represent Walking in Sunshine, Joy Jensen will endure her first walk with For You, and Theresa Rickrode will be a part of Save Our Ta-Tas.
And, as daunting a task as the 60-mile trek may seem, it’s only part of the challenge. Each walker must raise at least $2,300 to participate. Furthermore, to prepare for the journey, the women began training about six months ago, heading out in the wee hours of the morning to get some miles under their heels.
However, veteran walkers such as Birch know all the effort is more than worth it.
“People come from out of nowhere (during the walk),” she said. “They set up their lawn chairs and hand out popsicles for you as you walk by. You have no idea how many people have been impacted. No one is immune.”
Collectively these four Manatee/Sarasota teams have raised more than $216,000 through a plethora of events, including car washes, fundraising nights at local restaurants, poker tournaments and Facebook drives.
All Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure participants still are accepting donations. To make a donation, visit www.the3day.org.
Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].
Tampa Bay Susan G. Komen 3-Day
Opening Ceremony: 7:30 a.m., Oct. 29, at Sand Key Park, 1060 Gulf Blvd., Clearwater
Closing Ceremony: 5 p.m., Oct. 31, at Spa Beach Park, 615 Second Ave. N.E., St. Petersburg