Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Still Flying High

Just when I was starting to come down from the high of the pool party, UPS pulls up my street with a package from who, you ask?  New Balance of course!  It was our team t-shirts!  When I spoke with Nadesha at the party, she didn't think that we would be receiving them until Tuesday or Wednesday, so this was a pleasant surprise.  When I first found out that we were getting t-shirts instead of tanks, I was definitely disappointed; however, these shirts are ADORABLE!  They took the logo that I created, blew it up, and put it on the front of the shirt.  On the back of course there is a bright pink "NB."

These are definitely going to make our iron-ons on Day 2 look a little shabby.

In terms of this week, we have one more training walk to do tonight.  We are hoping to capture some more footage of us walking on the Flips.  It is really hard to tape while you walk though.  I'm sure they look at my taping and say, "Seriously?  Doesn't she know the difference between telephoto and wide angle?"  I am constantly zooming in when I should be zooming out.  Who knows if they will even use any of this footage, but it is fun to do.

Also, the New Balance crew has requested that we try to get fans at two specific cheering stations on the route.  The cameras will be rolling, and they would like to see lots of support for the TWP's.  As I said before they will only be filming us on Day 1 and Day 3.  Here is the info:

Friday, July 23rd
8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
St. Paul's Church
502 Washington St.
Wellesley MA 02482

* This is about 8 miles in to the walk, so I estimate that if you arrive by 9:00 you should be able to see us coming along.

Sunday, July 25th
8:15 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139

As far as our arrival time on Sunday, I can't really give you an estimate because I am not exactly sure of the route.

While we would obviously love for you all to attend one of these, there are also several other cheering stations along the way.  Just be sure to visit the Spectator Information page at the 3-Day website to find out more information about how you can support us.  If you decide to join us be sure to look for one of our family members so that you can show your support by wearing a Tough Warrior Princess pin.

If for some reason you can't make it in to cheer us on Friday or Saturday, you could always join us for Closing Ceremonies on Sunday at UMASS Boston.  If you have never attended Closing Ceremonies, it is surely something you should do at some point, just be sure to bring your tissues and arrive early.  If you get there early enough we might even be able to hang out with you for a bit. 

While we would love to have everyone come and join us, we understand that for some of you, that might not be possible.  We know that you will be there in spirit, cheering us on every mile of the way.  That spirit will help us to take that next step when our bodies feel like they can't go forward another inch.  It is your support that will help us get through every day, and we are thankful for that.

Royally yours,

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Real Deal

My phone rang at 9:00 yesterday morning.  It was Patty.  She said, "If you weren't intimidated before, you will be now."  What?  What was going on at her house?  She proceeded to tell me that her long winding driveway was filled with cars, at least 10 or so, and her garage was overflowing with technical equipment. There was also a large box truck whose supplies seemed to be endless.  If it wasn't already confirmed before, this was the real deal.

I arrived 15 minutes later to be greeted by the crew consisting of Paul the director, Steve who I believe is a producer, CJ, a writer,  Rachel and Ben who are producers, Nadesha from Marketing Drive who is the go-between for New Balance and Element, and several other sound, lighting, and camera crew.  After we signed our releases, Patty and I sat in her living room taking deep breaths and trying to stay cool.  We knew that they were interviewing us first, so we were looking forward to being able to relax, if only for a bit.

Patty's house looked amazing.  It was spotless from top to bottom, and her landscaping was gorgeous.  (I wouldn't expect anything less from Mike.)  As I looked out into the back yard, I saw what appeared to be a movie set.  There were two cameras, reflectors, coverings to provide shade, and lots of other technical stuff.  Yes, I was intimidated.  Steve came in and told us that he would be interviewing Patty and I together.  Yay!  That made us more more relaxed.  He said they enjoyed how we played off of each other.  He then looked at us and told us that our clothing needed to compliment one another.  I had on a red and white sundress, so Patty went upstairs and put on a brown one.  As she was doing that, they sent me to get my make-up done.  Wahoo!  Maria traveled up from NY that morning just to do make-up for us.  I was thrilled, but she told me that I would obviously not be made up too much as this was just a pool party.  I didn't care.  It had to look better than what I did.  After I was done, they sent me over to get my mic.  I had a small mic that was placed in the inside of my dress with a little battery pack attached to the back of my dress, just like you see on reality tv shows. 

When I was finished, it was Patty's turn.  While I was waiting for Patty, I chatted with the crew.  These people are AWESOME!  They are so friendly and make you feel very comfortable.  It didn't matter that they had head sets on one ear listening to feed as they talked to you.  They were far from intimidating.  We talked about where they lived, what I did for work, how many kids they had.  The most important thing was that they all understood that this was our pool party, and they were trying to be as unobtrusive as they could be.  They wanted us to have fun too. 

Around 10:30, Steve tells us that they are ready for us.  Patty and I head over to the middle of the yard where everything is set up, and take a seat.  Paul and CJ are interviewing us, which definitely makes us feel more relaxed.  They were the ones that conducted our on-camera interview in Boston.  It was going to be the same questions.  Hopefully we could provide even better answers.  As we were sitting there waiting to start, someone came out with a clapboard, you know the thing that directors use to say, "Action!"  Patty was hysterical.  We didn't expect that.  Obviously, we know nothing about film production.  Then the questions began.  I don't want to tell you them, but you can probably figure out what most of them were.  I wish I had a picture of them interviewing us, but everyone had to stay way back because of sound.  I guess the mics are super sensitive, and I almost blew out the sound tech's ears when I put my hand to my chest.  Oops!  They even stopped filming as a plane flew overhead. 

Our interview lasted almost an hour, and was much easier than we anticipated.  When we finished, we went inside to prepare some food while our husbands were interviewed.  They were not as fortunate as us.  They had to be interviewed individually.  Mike went first, and then Andy followed.  It seemed like it took forever.  When Andy came out his eyes were puffy.  I knew he had been crying.  Oh dear, what had they asked him?

Back in the kitchen while we were putting appetizers together, we had someone following us around with a camera.  All I could think of was my friend and sorority sister, Melissa, who won The Next Food Network Star last year, and now has her own show Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa D'Arabian.   I had a camera man watching me slicing tomatoes and washing basil.  When he asked me to slowly take the tomatoes out of the package I was like, seriously?  It was just too funny.

This same camera man moved outside to film the kids making signs.  I have to say that the kids were super.  They had to be very quiet during the interviews, and could not go swimming until all the individual interviews were over.  We all brought lots of supplies so the kids could go to town with their creativity, and they did.  The tables were filled with glitter, glue, markers, and stencils--a crafty kid's dream.  I think Maddie and Mia could have stayed there for hours if the pool wasn't calling their names.  Patty's daughter Katie got a little creative with some of the glitter letters.  Check out where she put the word princess.  Patty is such a good sport.    

While all of this was going on outside, Kaitlyn was being interviewed inside.  Kaitlyn was a student of mine years ago when I taught at Waltham High.  She is now 28, and after visiting me during the 3Day last year, she decided to join our team.  I have no idea what she was asked in her interview, but when they called me in to see her, she was crying, which of course made me cry.  I'm sure the crew was happy to catch that on film.

At about 1:00 the guests started arriving, and the crew took a break for lunch.  This was a scene in itself.  I didn't really think about it, but legally they have to provide a lunch break for everyone.  The crew suddenly vanished and we were free to do as we pleased.  Patty and I still had our mics, but that was it.  As I was socializing, Patty came over to me and told me to take a look out front.  The crew brought their own tables and chairs, and set up their own little banquet in the front yard.

After lunch the crew began setting up for a group interview.  They set us up in two rows, one behind the other, sitting on platforms.  It felt like the reunion show on Survivor.  I was happy that they decided to talk to us all together.  They wanted to spark a conversation, and they did.  The interview took about a half hour, and we laughed, spoke admirably about each other, and even shed some tears.  I think when it was completed, everyone felt much better about having the cameras with us during the walk.

After they completed our interview it was on to the kids.  I was in the garage getting some dessert, talking to Nadesha and Rachel when they said that they heard singing on their headsets.  Alexa--they were interviewing her.  She did a fabulous job, in true Alexa style.  I am continually amazed with the amount of confidence and poise this young woman has.  I never would have sat by myself in front of a camera at her age.  Heck, I didn't even want to be by myself in front of a camera now!

 When they finished interviewing Alexa, they asked us to gather a bunch of our kids for a group interview.  We pulled many of them out of the pool, put clothes on them, and sat them down on the ground.  Zach and Mia decided to participate; however Maddie was a little shy.  They asked the kids what it was like to have their mom's walking and how it affected their family.  I was never so proud of Zach when he explained who the Tough Warrior Princesses were, and what we did. He made me start to tear up when he said I was his hero.  It just doesn't get any better than that.

After the kids were done interviewing they had everyone come over and join them sitting on the ground.  They filmed us as we said a little cheer and that was it.  They took off our mics, and they started to pack up their gear.  Patty and I immediately changed into our swimsuits and headed into the pool.  As long as the cameras were off, I was going swimming.  Once we cooled off, we could finally relax.

It took almost an hour for the crew to pack up during which time we socialized and ate.  We were able to chat with Nadesha, CJ, Rachel, and Ben to find out more details about what the weekend was going to be like.  We found out that the four of them would be walking with us for some of the time.  Luckily for them, they have the luxury of getting into the truck to move from location to location if they need to.  We joked with them asking if we could get access to electricity to dry our hair and charge our phones. 

Overall, it was a fabulous day--something that I will never forget.  There was one part, that was especially great.  While we were hanging out, Nadesha and Rachel told us that all the stories they heard throughout this whole process were so moving, that they have both decided to walk in the 3Day next year!  That is what this film is about.  By inspiring these two women, all of this chaos has been completely worthwhile.

I am sure that I will be writing more as the week continues!

Royally yours,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's not Blue Suede Shoes, it's Pink Suede Sneakers!

First of all, one final thank you to everyone who came out and supported us at our Flatbread fundraiser.  If you haven't heard, the final tallies are in, and between pizzas and donations, we raised over $800!  I think that is pretty impressive.  Thanks to all of you, the Tough Warrior Princesses have surpassed the $40,000 mark and are quickly approaching $41,000!  There is still time to donate if you haven't done so yet.  Just click on the link to the side of this page.

As many of you know through my Facebook status updates, the New Balance chaos continues.  When Patty and I signed on for this, I think we thought that a camera crew would follow us around for three days.  If I had just talked to my brother-in-law who is a producer for ESPN, he would have informed me otherwise.  It is a MAJOR production!  Hours and hours of footage.  I think I first realized this when I received an email with an agenda for our pool party.  Agenda?  Seriously?  What about hanging around the pool with a cool refreshing beverage?  The director of the shoot is even coming up on Friday to map out the filming locations!  The party starts at 1:00, but poor Patty.  The crew arrives at 9AM!  As I shared the agenda with Andy, imagine his surprise when at 11:30 it says, "interview with Sherri's husband."  I thought he was going to faint. 

Yesterday, the first of the boxes arrived--Sneakers--the most important requirement for the 3Day!  As you all know, this has been the major concern for our team.  We all received different kinds of sneakers, some walking, some running, but the majority of them were pink.  Patty and I received top of the line ones--pink 993's.  They are different than anything I have ever worn.  We will be walking tonight to test them out.  Be sure to keep your fingers crossed.  (We've been doing a lot of that lately, and it seems to be working.)

While waiting for the second package to arrive, I have been busy making decorations for our tent and also making Tough Warrior Princess pins.  The pins are adorable.  It is our little princess made out of pink and black pipe cleaners and craft foam.  We are hoping to hand them out to people on the route.  As far as our tents, we expect them to be outstanding.  We'll be sure to take lots of pictures. 

Late today our clothing arrived.  It is really cute!  Some of us got capris, others got shorts.  The shorts are absolutely adorable.  They are black with a little hot pink embroidered pocket on the butt.  Patty tried hers on tonite and I made her turn around and filmed her butt on our Flip.  I'm sure they will like that footage.  There are also black jackets for some of us, and white ones for others.  The team t-shirts will be shipped next week with our socks and hats.  So far everyone is very happy with our attire.

Speaking of attire, Patty and I went for our first walk in our sneakers.  They really are VERY pink.  I don't know if it is that they are pink so much, as they are just very boxy which makes them look even more pink.  I have large feet to begin with, and I feel like they look ginormous.  We decided to take a short walk to try them out.  We were both pleasantly surprised as we started out.  Besides our focus being drawn to them constantly, they felt pretty good for the first 2 miles.  After that I started to run into a bit of trouble.  Some of you may remember that I had surgery on a neuroma on my left foot a few years ago.  For this reason, I need to be very particular with my sneakers.  Not far into mile 3, it started to bother me.  Now, it could be that I was wearing inserts, or that I just have to break the sneakers in.  I loosened my left one at the top near my toes, and it did start to feel better, but it was still sore.  Patty and I kept laughing and joking about the sneakers and were looking at everyone's expressions as we walked by, wondering what they were thinking.  As we headed up through town, we turned the corner by the fire station.  It was a beautiful evening and we greeted the firefighter sitting outside with a "hello."  You should have seen us when he responded, "Hey!  Nice sneakers!"  OMG!  I thought we were going to pee our pants.  Where was the Flip when you needed it?  It was too funny! 

So early tomorrow morning I will try my sneakers again, without inserts this time.  After that we meet with Paul, the director of the shoot.  He is headed to Patty's to plan the set up for Sunday.  The rest of the day will be spent getting last minute stuff for the walk.  I'll keep you posted.

Royally yours,

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Street Team Day!

I can't believe that the walk is in less than two weeks!  This past Saturday Patty, Cheryl, Alexa, Dylan, and I all journeyed into Waltham to be part of Street Team Day.  With the 3Day being such a large event, I believe there are over 1,500 walkers in Boston this year, there is so much preparation that goes into it.  Once the route is established, it is important for all the local businesses along the way to be informed that masses of people will be walking down their street.  Letters are sent out to them asking them to support us.  We were responsible for letting residents know about the walk, and asking them to support us in any way. 

We met at Panera in Waltham to receive our instructions.   Our packet contained a map, signs, tape, and hot pink cards to hand out to residents.  From there we drove to our starting location.  All I can say is that our section started in Arlington and continued through Winchester.  We parked the car and began walking the route.  We were assigned about 3.5 miles, so we figured we would stick together, paper the entire thing, and then walk back to the car.  We started early, around 8:30ish so we assumed that most residents would be asleep.  Not even a half mile into the route we passed a street sign saying, "Beverly Road."  Beverly was Patty's mother's name.   She passed away from breast cancer when Patty was just 22.  She was never able to meet Alexa and Katie.  I stopped everyone and told them that we had to take a picture to honor her.  After a few minutes of tear-filled eyes, we were on our way.

Along the way we did meet a few people and explained what we were doing.  There was one very kind woman who told us she would have some water, balloons, and signs waiting for us.  As I have said before, the communities that we walk through really make this walk what it is.  When you feel like you are just about to drop, you turn the corner and there are kids with lemonade, frozen grapes and chocolate, pink balloons, and upbeat music blaring.  That support just pushes your feet to keep taking one step after the other.  We could have used some of that support on Saturday as it was scorching hot.  We are used to doing the majority of our training in the cooler, early morning hours.  There were definitely some times when we were dragging.

The most inspiring part of the day was watching Alexa and Dylan.  These two kids are really something special.  They are both so confident in themselves, and are willing to take on any task given to them.  As we walked into Panera, they comfortably talked with volunteers that they had never met before.  They also thought nothing of walking up to someone's door and explaining what the 3Day is.  And, they walked all 7 miles without one complaint!  The fact that 2 teenagers did all of this is simply outstanding.  It is a real tribute to their parents.

After we finished papering, the 3.5 miles back seemed a lot longer than it was.  Patty, the crazy athletic nut that she is, decided that she would run ahead and get the car.  For the last mile of the walk we kept anticipating the navy blue mini-van coming around the next corner.  When she arrived, we all hopped into the car, cranked the air-conditioning, and headed back to Panera for some lunch.  After a delicious tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad, it was time for the journey home.  

Royally yours,

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!

As many of you already know, the past two weeks have been very exciting for the Tough Warrior Princesses!  As I said in my last blog, both Patty and I submitted our stories to the New Balance casting call.  After the creative team reviewed them, they decided that they needed to know more information about this fabulous group of women.   I was given a phone number and a time to call in for my interview.  You all know how much I like to talk, especially about the 3Day, but for this I was really nervous.  I think I do much better face to face.  I don't think I could ever have a job where I had to make conference calls.  Plus, when I wrote my initial response to their questions, I wrote over two pages.  They knew my story.  What else was there to say?  Patty's interview was at 9:30 and I was scheduled to call in at 10:30.  Around 10:05 my phone rings and it is New Balance telling me that they are ready for my call.  I grab my notes, announce to my family that there should be no interruptions, and head to my room where I close the door behind me. 

When the phone is answered there are several people on the other line.  I was so nervous, I don't remember exactly how many, but I think it was around 6?  They all seemed very pleased with what Patty had told them, and they asked me to expand on a few things, like how we got our name.  I told them the story of how my cousin Kimm and her friend Suzanne came over shortly after I was diagnosed.  Suzanne had a shirt from her friend Jen who created the company Emotional Armor.  The shirt was black and in hot pink letters it said, "tough warrior princess."  That shirt said it all.  That was what I was.  It didn't matter that I had lost my breast. It didn't matter that I was going to be bald.  I was fighting a battle with cancer and I was going to win.  So when I first decided to do the 3Day, what better name was there for our team.  They also asked me to talk about each of the amazing women who will be joining me on this journey.  After a few more questions, they told me that they would be in touch with us.  I hung up the phone feeling confident with my conversation.

My conference call took place on a Tuesday.  On Thursday we each received phone calls from New Balance asking us to go to Element Productions on the following Tuesday to conduct an on-camera interview.  Seriously!?!  We never thought that we would make it this far. I immediately began to panic.  I had to lose weight, get my hair highlighted and figure out what I was going to wear.  I knew that at least I would be able to do 2 of those things, so I got on it.  Tuesday morning Patty had to work in Boston, so we agreed to meet at Element.  After trying on clothes for at least an hour, I chose a simple brown skirt, white t-shirt, and of course a pink linen jacket.  As I walked out of my air-conditioned house I thought I was going to melt, but I felt that I looked the best I was going to, so I went with it.

When Patty and I arrived, we were brought into a room with a camera, a large screen, and four chairs.  The chairs were in pairs and were facing each other--Patty and I on one side, the interviewers on the other.  It didn't seem too intimidating until they told us that the creative team would be behind the screen watching us on monitors and taking notes.  We were then outfitted with mics and sat down to wait.  Our interviewers told us that if we were chosen, today would be the most difficult part of the entire process.  As we sat there, they asked us to tell our stories again.  They had questions about what brought us together, and how we are different.  We just sat there and talked.  After a few moments we forgot that the camera was even there.  The interview lasted a little under an hour.  We actually enjoyed ourselves, and we thought that the creative team did too.  They told us that they had one more interview, and they would be in touch soon.  As Patty and I walked out, we thought we nailed it.  It seemed like everyone genuinely enjoyed themselves, and the people from New Balance and Element were moved by our story.  Now it was time to sit and wait again, with fingers crossed of course.

We hurried home and changed into our Tough Warrior Princess shirts to head up to Flatbread for our fundraiser that evening.  We are so fortunate to have a business in our community that offers such a fabulous fundraising opportunity.  The community came out in droves, despite the soaring temperatures.  We sold pink ribbons to honor those who have battled cancer.  We will be carrying these ribbons during our entire 60 miles.  The restaurant was packed, and some people had to wait a while to receive their order--the sign of a successful night.  We packed up at around 9:30, happy with the day.

The following morning I continually watched the clock.  Were they interviewing today, or did they complete it yesterday?  I felt in my heart that we would know that day.  I thought about what it would mean if we were chosen.  Would we have to wear all New Balance attire?  Sneakers too?  I love my sneakers, but they are not New Balance.  What does the rest of the team think of this?  Patty and I never even discussed it with each other when we submitted applications, never mind the rest of the team.  If we were selected it was going to change the entire walk.  Didn't I want everyone to experience the 3Day the way that I did?  I was so excited, but also slightly ambivalent.  That ambivalence didn't stop me from constantly checking my email and voicemail.

At around 3:00 I once again checked my email--nothing.  I was going back to the pool resigned to the fact that we probably didn't get chosen.  While swimming around my father says, "I think some of your friends are here."  Huh?  Who was stopping by?  I look up and see Patty, Cheryl, and Patty's daughter Katie getting out of the car.  OMG!  Did we get it?  OMG again!  Yes, we did!  Holy Cow!  I had to go inside and check out the email from NB.

I found out that they would be outfitting the entire team from head to toe.  As I said earlier, many of us don't generally wear NB sneakers which makes us nervous.  Walking 60 miles is one thing, but walking 60 miles in sneakers that you haven't broken in is another.  They have shipped us Flip cameras to film some of our training walks.  I also found out that they would be attending our team pool party at Patty's house.   They would like to film us making signs and preparing for our tent decorating, which we will DEFINITELY win this year.  I hope that NB will understand, but there is no way that I will be filmed in a bathing suit unless it is from the neck up.  They may also be meeting us at Cheryl's house on the morning of the walk.  We are all gathering there and taking a party bus to Framingham for Opening Ceremonies.  After reading all of the details it was still surreal to me.  I decided it was time to take a break from the computer and call some friends to share my news.  Of course one of the first people I called was Tracy.  She was absolutely thrilled for us.  She is a TWP at heart.

Later that afternoon I was still flying high.  I didn't think the day could get any better, then I checked my email again.  I had received a message from Meredith, the Field Coordinator for the Boston 3Day, and in it she asked if I would like to be a flag bearer in the Survivor Circle at Opening and Closing Ceremonies.  If you read my blog last year, you are aware that this is something that I have always wanted.  I was honored, but it was bittersweet.  All I have thought about this year is that I will have 3 amazing women by my side in the Survivor Circle.  Being a flag bearer means I will be with 7 other women up on a platform, not with my team; however, there was no way I could pass up this opportunity.  Of course I would be a flag bearer.

So the last few days have been filled with the craziness that goes along with being chosen.  Patty and I drove up to the New Balance Outlet to try on sneakers and apparel yesterday.  If we are going to be on camera, we have to look our best.  I have had numerous emails and phone calls with New Balance giving sizes, and discussing details about shipping.  New Balance has graciously offered to make us our team t-shirts!  We are absolutely thrilled!  One of our main concerns was that we did not want the Princess to get lost in all of this.

In the meantime, this weekend a few of us will be part of the 3Day Street Team where we go around to businesses along the route and ask them to place signs in their windows supporting the 3Day.  The exciting thing is that we get to see where we are walking.  Shhh!  We can't tell!  It is a secret!

I'm sure I will have lots to share over the next two weeks.  I have to say again, thank you to everyone for your support.  The Tough Warrior Princesses would not be where they are without all of you!  XO

Royally yours,