Anna’s Brownie troop walked in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Saturday. There were six 8-year-old girls along with five of us moms. It was the girls first time at the Race for the Cure, and my first time as well. I walked into the mass of people just as awe-struck as the girls did. People were wearing pink capes, men were dressed up as pink cheerleaders, women wore hot pink feather boas, dogs wore hot pink feather boas, men wore…well, you get the idea. I think I saw about a hundred pink tutus and thousands of pink hats in all varieties. Carolina Panther DeAngelo Williams stood on a platform waving and smiling his big, infectious smile to everyone as they walked through a massive arch of pink balloons. I learned later that DeAngelo was there to do more than just lend his celebrity. He’s lost three aunts to breast cancer and his mom is a survivor. He’d compiled a team of more than 500 people to walk. They wore jersey’s bearing their team name: “Williams Warriors.”
Christine, one of my fellow Brownie moms teared up more than once as she read the names and dates on the shirt backs of those who passed by. One man’s “I walk for____” sign bore the name of a woman who had just died a few weeks ago. On the back of one t-shirt I read something so profound I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. It said this: “I looked around and wondered why somebody didn’t do something. Then I realized, I am somebody.”
The most impressive sight of all was the river of people that stretched out in front of us and behind us. As we’d walk up a hill we’d turn around to see the street filled with people from sidewalk to sidewalk as far back as we could see. Overwhelmed by it all, I put my arm around Anna and told her there were 14,000 people walking. “And I’m one of them,” she said.
I walked for my mom, who is a 5-year breast cancer survivor. I walked for my sisters, my niece, and mostly for Anna with hope that cancer will not threaten her future the way it has threatened my mom’s and mine. What struck me more than any single shirt, or celebrity, or crazy pink costume was all those people just like me united for this same purpose.
When we finished the walk, Jennifer, the girls’ troop leader, gave them each a piece of chocolate wrapped in pink foil and told them they’d raised over $600 toward curing breast cancer. She told them she was proud of them for doing something for others. And that today they made a difference in someone else’s life.
Like the t-shirt said, I am somebody. You are somebody. Every single one of us is somebody. And those 8-year-old girls are somebody. As usual Anna was way ahead of me on this life lesson. When she said “I’m one of them,” she got it. There were 14,000 people walking and we were eleven of them.
Sara Ellington is the author of The Mommy Chronicles: Conversations Sharing the Comedy and Drama of Pregnancy and New Motherhood (Hay House, 2005) and The Must-Have Mom Manual (Ballantine/Random House, April 2009) available at Target October 11th!