Hi – I’m Josh and I’m proud to be a part of Team 9/64 walking in this year’s Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I found out that I will be away at military training during the Avon Walk in October. I decided to go ahead and walk my miles in advance to honor my obligation.
When I decided to do this I called Tom, one of my retired army buddies, and asked him if he wanted to ride his bike with me or walk a little. “Are you kidding, I’ll walk the whole thing with you!” was his response. So Wednesday morning at 5:30 a.m. he got to my house to start walking. We both had full water bladder backpacks, some additional water bottles, a first aid kit and my walking stick. I made sure I packed foot powder, band aids, moleskin, multiple pairs of socks and a shirt to change into. I did however forget to pack sunscreen…(make sure you bring yours).
We walked in the darkness through quiet downtown Concord all the way past the Carolina Mall and over I-85. It was cool and we were enjoying ourselves. Making our way towards Kannapolis wasn’t too bad because we only had about a quarter of a mile on Hwy 29 before we turned onto the back roads where there was less traffic. Our first stop was at a gas station in downtown Kannapolis where we ate some peanuts and rested for about five minutes. Moving on we began paralleling the railroad tracks that would take us all the way to Salisbury.
Leaving Kannapolis it wasn’t long before we entered Landis. We met a man with a Dachshund named Ginger, ate lunch at the Food Lion Deli and kept going. It was after 11 a.m. and beginning to get hot. We finished off the water in the bottles and had begun draining the back packs. Between Landis and China Grove we got our first taste of “no sidewalk”. This was the worst part of the entire walk. There were times when there was no shoulder to the road and we would have to walk on the grass that was only a foot away from speeding traffic.
China Grove was a nice little town with plenty to look at as we tried to ignore the foot pain that was ever-present. Once the sidewalks ended again we faced what was the longest part of the whole journey. For miles and miles we walked on the side of the road drinking water and keeping an eye on oncoming traffic. Neither one of us was talking much anymore. There were long stretches where you could see almost a mile and I was just hoping for shade and some room between me and the 60mph semi trucks.
After nine hours of walking we noticed the stores were getting closer together and Salisbury was in reach. We must have been quite a site as we walked past the small cafés and stores in downtown. Finally, reaching the Salisbury train station covered in sweat, we sat down and enjoyed the AC on the ride back home (which was incredibly quick).
During the walk I had plenty of time to think about why I was walking. I looked down at my walking stick with 25 pink ribbons on it that first day and thought about the cancer victims whose lives are forever changed, their courageous and heartbroken family members and all of the people who take the time out of their day to do what they can helping others. I hope that the money we raise can get us that much closer to a cure.
Good luck to everyone on your walk! Drink water, powder your feet, BRING SUNBLOCK! And if you’re not walking, won't you donate to the fundraising campaigns of those who are? The more of us who walk (or donate), the more of us survive.