Editor's Note: The Journal-World's Andrew Hartsock participated in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, a walk to raise money for research, on Sept. 15-17. He kept a diary of the event and preparations for LJWorld.com.
OK, I'm not a sappy, emotions-on-my-sleeve kinda guy, but I couldn't help but be touched by the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk.
The event ended Sunday, and it was quite the spectacle.
It started early Friday morning at the Kansas Speedway and concluded Sunday afternoon at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Mo.
Close to 1,500 walkers participated, and for some it was the single most challenging physical event in their lives. For others, it was little more than a walk in park.
Not everybody walked every mile, but nobody kept track.
And there were as many reasons for walking in the 3-Day, I'd bet, as there were walkers in it.
People walked for survivors and victims, friends and relatives. Some walked for neighbors, some for themselves. They walked for mothers and daughters and wives and sisters.
Me? I walked because my wife wanted to.
And while the overwhelming mood was one of celebration and support, there was an underlying feeling of poignancy that even the most emotionally walled cretin like me couldn't help but feel.
OK, most of the days - 21 miles each of the first two days, around 17 on Sunday - were filled with the tedium of putting one foot in front of the other for hours at a time.
But there were constant reminders of why we were there.
Remembrance posters lined the walk, and passers-by shouted encouragement.
Every so often a stranger would thank us for walking; at the designated "cheering zones," supporters handed out hugs, and occasionally candy.
And along the wall of people lining the final few yards to the finish, there wasn't a dry eye.
I learned a few things over the three days.
If a bagel at the start is manna, a cold Diet Coke at the 16-mile mark on the hottest day is nectar.
If somebody offers you a Jolly Rancher, accept. Period.
If somebody offers you a beer - as an early tailgater did Sunday - politely decline.
You don't have to talk all day, every day to your significant other. In fact, it's probably best if you don't.
It's amazing the pain some participants obviously went through to finish. Some walkers turned their feet to mincemeat, but they wrapped 'em up and headed out.
One of the taglines associated with the 3-Day says participation changes a person's life forever.
I don't know if I was changed forever.
But I was touched, big dumb guy or not.