BEND AREA — Four Bend Area women will be joining the fight to find a cure for breast cancer, when they travel to Chicago next week to participate in the “Avon 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer.”
Jill Harris, Amanda Lieving, Brandy Hudnall and Lisa Lewis will take part in the two-day, 39.3-mile walk. Each was required to raise a minimum of $1,800, which will go to breast cancer research.
The walk will begin June 3 and the local gals will trek 26.2 miles that day, the distance of a marathon. The second day’s walk will be 13.1 miles, a half marathon.
According to Hudnall, who is team captain of the group known as “Boobs, Sweat & Tears,” there will be no plush accommodations awaiting them the night between the walks. She said the women will be sleeping in two-person pink tents on the ground, with only a sleeping bag. They will shower in the back of a semi-truck trailer that Avon will provide.
So why would the women, all in their 30’s, subject themselves to such a daunting event?
Hudnall, who along with Lewis, did the walk in Washington, D.C. in 2013, said she does it for an aunt, who is a double-mastectomy breast cancer survivor. She stated she also participates in the hopes that a cure will be found before her baby daughter grows up.
“Every time I took a step in the Washington walk and wanted to cry, I thought of the breast cancer survivors and what they have to go through,” Hudnall said. “It’s what kept me going.”
The Avon walk is held each year in seven cities across the U.S. The local women’s goal is to walk in each of them in the coming years. Along with Washington, D.C. and Chicago, others are held in Boston, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, New York and Houston.
The quartet will be walking the Lake Michigan shoreline. They will pass sites like Wrigley Field, Buckingham Fountain, Lincoln Park, Field Museum and the Navy Pier. The evening following the first day’s walk, they will hear guest speakers, stories from breast cancer survivors, and music concerts.
While none of the four have walked the Chicago course before, all are veterans in either walking, or running, for a cause. Lewis and Hudnall participated in the prior Avon walk, while Harris walked in an event to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer. Lieving, an avid runner, has joined in runs for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, among others. She and her husband, Dr. Wes Lieving, sponsor the Wahama Run for Education each year, which benefits scholarships at the local high school.
The women have been preparing for the walk for some time. They mapped out a local 10-mile route that takes them from the Fast-4-U gas station above Mason, across the Bridge of Honor into Ohio, to the end of the Pomeroy walking path, and back.
Flying to Chicago on June 2, they will enjoy their evening together before the next day’s walk, which begins at 6 a.m. All participants are expected to keep a pace of a mile every 20 minutes, and are not allowed to run. Lieving added walking the long distance is more strenuous on the body than running the same course.
Earbuds and cell phone use are prohibited, not only for safety reasons, but also because organizers want participants to use the walk as a time to reflect, the women noted. They will walk, rain or shine.
While the women met their pledge goal for this year’s walk through raffles, bingo games, a cornhole tournament, and other events, they are already accepting donations for next year’s walk. All expressed appreciation for those helping them in any way.
Hudnall said she hopes the team keeps growing each year. Anyone wanting to donate to the team can mail it to Hudnall at P.O. Box 1074, New Haven, WV 25265. A tax receipt can be provided, she added.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.