Breast cancer walk a ‘life-changing, magic’ event

Deanna Wheeler

Carla Jesse and her stepsister expected to join about 630 walkers at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day last week in Washington, D.C.

Sixty miles over three days is a lot of ground to cover. Even more intimidating was the minimum $2,200 per-person donation required to enter the race.

When they both arrived at the starting line Oct. 3, more than 3,600 walkers joined them.

“It was life-changing. It was magical,” said Jesse, a 42-year-old Osage Beach, Mo., resident. “Just when I didn’t think I could take another step, we would be walking through a neighborhood and there would be a mom and her kids handing out Halloween candy, or there would be a poster with an inspirational message. You read it and knew you couldn’t stop.”

When Jesse started walking, it was a personal mission. A close friend had battled breast cancer, and Jesse watched as her friend slowly lost her fight. She’s also had several family members battle the disease.

At the end of three days and 60 miles, Jesse’s transformation was complete. She was walking not only for her friend and family, but for the cancer survivors taking their first steps in the event, the other first-time walkers who were bandaging blisters and splint shins in the medical tents and heading back out on the course to finish, the experienced walkers and the moms and daughters cheering on everyone.

“The whole thing became so much bigger than me,” Jesse said. “It started out really small, a personal goal. And when I got done, I don’t know how to explain it, I was walking for something much bigger than I ever could be part of.”

“It was the experience of a lifetime,” she said.

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