The 2015 MS Challenge Walk with my cousins!

Finally I was going to be a part of it – the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Challenge Walk! For ten years now, my cousins Erin and Rainey have been organizing “Team Jenny” on account of their sister who is living with MS.  Every year at Thanksgiving, or any other family gathering like a wedding or when I’m passing through DC where there is a critical mass of my extended family, I have been saying: Yes, I want to be on Team Jenny! And yet, years pass and I haven’t been able to do it. So two years ago I said I would, but then there was a work event that week. So this year I had to bust out all the stops and make it happen.

So, I bought a plane ticket and got my fundraising page organized. I was going to be a part of the Challenge Walk of 2015.

Interesting side note: usually it is in DC, marching past monuments and back and forth across the Potomac. This year, the organizers decided to connect the DC, Maryland, and Philly-area MS Society Chapters and run the event on the Eastern Shore (of Maryland). It was going to be a little different, but I was still game to check it out, as the important thing is to spend time with the cousins.

Thank you to all the generous supporters who enabled me to meet my $1000 fundraising goal!

  • Christopher Avery
  • Margaret Butler
  • Erin Counihan
  • Darien Crimmin
  • John Dimodica
  • Melissa Franks
  • Alex Lee
  • Benny Lee
  • Bruce Lee
  • Doug Levine
  • Errol Mazursky
  • Norie Mozzone
  • Tom Reid
  • Laura Resteghini
  • Charlotte Rohter
  • Elizabeth Saunders
  • Christopher Schaffner
  • Yutaka Tamura
  • Anu Yadav
  • Pramy Yadav
  • Sanjeev Yadav

My team  was delightful. We walked about 12 miles the first day, which was cut short of the original 20mi goal due to torrential rain, and we did about 9 miles the next day. I have to admit, I was a little sore as we wound up really speed-walking on that second day. I’m not used to completely flat courses I guess!

We had a lot of fun; I am looking forward to doing the Challenge Walk again next year!

Thank you to all who helped make it happen, especially Erin and Rainey who organized it all!

This is the vista from the plane of DC proper. I really like DC.

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Once in DC, after a quick visit and a couple of work meetings on L street, I got picked up by Erin and her friends who were joining us and we headed out of town, over the Bay Bridge, into the countryside.

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Here’s a picture from when I flew out and had a view of the Eastern Shore (looking SE in this pic – where I walked is in the far (top) right of the pic) – this is the piece of land between the Chesapeake and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also known as the DelMarVa Peninsula as it hosts Delaware and chunks of Maryland and Virginia (the southern tip is VA). It’s an interesting place. The bridge is connecting Annapolis to the Eastern Shore and is what all the DC-area people use to get out to the beaches, about 3h w/o traffic from the metro area.

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This is what the territory looks like. Lots of soy and cornfields.

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Once we got to the hotel later that evening, after dinner in Easton’s cute little village center, we registered and got our kits. It included these lovely purple “Top Crab” shirts for people who had raised over $1000 – so thank you again donors, I am officially indeed a Top Crab!

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And we had the official TEAM JENNY shirts as well:

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We were all a little giddy about our preparations and all the funny costume pieces. And it was a hoot to be the one dude with all these fabulous ladies!

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The next morning, things looked good for a big day out!

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Here we are getting ready at the starting line!

 

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It was pretty, there in Cambridge, Maryland, looking into an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay.

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It was about 500 walkers from all over the region, organized into various other goofy teams. Not quite Burning Man, but some of the same enthusiasm and friendliness, really!

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The path took us through a variety of neighborhoods and at least one upscale golf resort, right along the water. There were a lot of jellyfish in addition to goofballs.

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We continued to walk through the winding pathways along water and along highways until…the sky opened up and we had a total washout!

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The organizers cancelled the second half of the walk for that first day and we went back to the base – the hotel on the highway. I didn’t have any pictures of this whole episode as I wrapped my camera in a few plastic bags and stopped using it. But it was still pouring when we got back! Below is the hotel’s back parking lot where our revival-style tent was set up for the BBQ.

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It was a great meal enjoyed by a bunch of wet walkers, who were still quite cheerful!

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After eating, we had a great session hearing testimonials from folks who were also living with MS, who had been recently diagnosed to long-term survivors. We heard stories about what it was like in the 80’s when the only intervention was steroids, to now, where there are a variety of therapies and doctors are much better able to make diagnoses. It was good to hear from survivors, family members, loved ones of departed patients, and other supporters. It was quite moving, really.

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The next day was a lot sunnier and things dried out.

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The non-walking supporters of Team Jenny had been designated to create a “Rest Stop” for all the walking teams and this was ours in St. Michaels toward the middle of the second day. Jenny and husband Rob were helped by their son Jack, her parents (my aunt & uncle) Maxine & Gene, and various other spouses, offspring and significant others, as you can see below. It was a real peppy rest stop and kept us going through to the end…which was good…because it started raining again!

 

 

 

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But we made it to the finish line, got our medallions and get onto the bus. There was actually a local church group singing a variety of songs to welcome us to the final 100 yards.

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And we got on the bus and headed back to the hotel, for a final rally and more food, and to dry off again. I can’t wait to get with these folks again for the 2016 Challenge Walk!

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