“We walk because we must. We are strong because the journey demands it. Together in body and united in spirit, we lay down our footsteps for this generation and the next. This is our promise: a world without breast cancer!”
That Friday morning, voices chimed in unison as a crowd gathered to send walkers on their 60-mile journey through Philadelphia to raise funds for breast cancer research. For many of the walkers, this cause was personal. During the opening ceremony that morning, we heard from Josh, who had just lost his mother. Abby, who had just lost her sister the previous week. Royce, our own head of commercial design and a breast cancer survivor. With open hearts and hands lifted high, the group set out to cover the weekend’s path and step by step bring us closer to a world without breast cancer.
In 2017, more than 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women and 2,400 cases in men in the U.S. The Susan G. Komen foundation has set a bold goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50% in the U.S. by 2026, and Mohawk is dedicated to helping Komen achieve this bold goal through donated proceeds from SmartCushion carpet cushion sales. In addition to the donations, the pink SmartCushion is cut into strips and squares to literally cushion the fight during the 3-Day walks and provide walkers with comfort under sleeping bags and in rest stops.
That Friday morning was chilly as walkers set out to cover the day’s 20 miles. Along the way, friendships were made and towns were painted pink in support. Even a fire station provided pink fire hats to walkers as they passed by! Every few miles, cheer stations and pit stops provided refreshments and food to keep the walkers going as they passed from Willow Grove to Fort Washington before ending at Germantown Academy. The walk itself is an incredible experience, but camp is a delight too, full of massage chairs, hot showers and life-sized games. The first day can be a little rough- especially on feet that haven’t walked that great a distance in a long time- if ever. But camp is full of resources including a medical tent to make sure nothing can stop a walker from continuing their journey the next day.
Saturday was full of challenges with some of the toughest hills in the city to climb, including elevations of 1,000+ feet. The walkers made their way from their tents to beautiful Pretzel Park and on to the quaint Manayunk area before returning to camp at Flourtown. All along the way friends, family members and Komen supporters cheered endlessly, offering sports drinks, lollipops and hugs whenever needed- especially in the afternoon at the highest point of elevation! At camp that evening, family members and friends were invited to join for a fun night of games and live music.
Sunday morning’s start was a few miles away at the iconic Philadelphia Zoo, so walkers boarded buses at 6:30 am to begin the last leg of their 60-mile trek. At 7:00, the sleepy animals were just waking up as hundreds of walkers quietly passed through their home, taking selfies with the giraffes, rhinos and kangaroos. Just down from the zoo began a beautiful, multi-mile path lining the Schuylkill River that led into the city- and most importantly lunch!
The afternoon’s journey through the city was filled with tourist hot spots, including the famous Rocky steps, Liberty Bell and Pat’s & Geno’s. At one point, the trail led down a narrow street that claimed to be the very first neighborhood in the U.S. Walkers quietly passed by the old homes, discovering this empowering sign discreetly hanging in a window towards the end.
As the afternoon wore on, and the finish line drew closer, the cheering stations grew bigger and louder. Everywhere you looked, someone was holding a pink banner, bowl of candy or lemonade. Even the Philadelphia Eagles’ Pep Band drumline came out to pump walkers up and get them through the very last mile.
Once the last walker crossed the Mohawk pink carpet finish line, the closing ceremonies in the Navy Yard began, including inspiring speeches, dancing and celebrating in all ways. Collectively, another 1.1 million dollars was raised for breast cancer research. Great job, team Philly!
To keep up with the Komen 3-Day journeys, follow us on social media @MohawkFlooring #CushionTheFight.