by Cori Hilsgen
Neighbors Gretchen Ross, 65, and Joy Chall, 62, plan to participate in the Twin Cities three-day Susan G. Komen walk for a cure for breast cancer Aug. 23–25.
Both are members of the Sartell Curves. Ross has been a member for five years and Chall joined this year.
Each walker in the Komen event must raise a minimum of $2,300 in order to participate. Donations come from friends and family, word of mouth, people whose lives have been affected by cancer.
“When we accept donations, we always ask if there is someone we can honor on our walk,” Ross said. “Both Joy and I have a lot of names we will write on our event shirts.”
There are women on Ross’s husband’s side of the family who had breast cancer.
Chall does not have any immediate family members with breast cancer but has some wonderful close friends who are survivors.
“The challenges they went through, yet the positive attitude they maintained during this difficult time was an inspiration to me,” Chall said. “That is why I chose to do the three-day walk for the Susan G., to honor their admirable fight.”
Ross and Chall plan to walk 20 miles each day. At this time, the route is undisclosed as a security precaution. Opening ceremonies are at 7 a.m. Friday, Aug. 23 at the Southdale Mall and the closing ceremonies are at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25 at the State Capital in St. Paul.
Ross and Chall have enjoyed walking together and have dreamed of being able to complete the three-day event, knowing it’s more difficult than doing a marathon because it’s three consecutive days of walking 20 miles each day.
Ross said being able to train for the event has been a factor. Training requires long training walks along with varying degrees of cross training.
The Komen foundation provides a training handbook for its walkers. It suggests walkers be able to walk at least a 20-minute-mile and offers a suggested training program which gradually increases your distance as well as suggests different types of terrain, weather conditions and varying surfaces whenever possible. Because it’s an endurance walk, training increases up to 18 miles a day and then 15 miles the next day, with cross training on the days when walks are shorter.
The two women have walked almost daily since they began their training program about 16 weeks ago. They have incorporated their Curves workouts as part of their cross training.
“It’s become a bucket list item for both of us and a way to give back for all the blessings we have,” Ross said. “No amount of training can ever compare to what people facing breast cancer go through.”
Ross is walking to honor 11 people and Chall is walking to honor eight people.
“On the three-day, Joy and I will see the world of hope and love, filled with power and immense strength as we are surrounded by thousands of determined feet that will one day carry us to the cure,” Ross said. “After all, everyone deserves a lifetime.”
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure global breast cancer movement began when Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer, and the movement began in 1982.
Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care and to find the cure. Because of events like the Komen Race for the Cure and the three-day, the organization has invested more than $2 billion to end breast cancer forever. It’
s the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world, according to the event website.
If you would like to donate to the cause, please visit the3day.org/donate and look for Ross’s and Chall’s names as walkers, or call 800-996-3DAY.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.