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  • I didn't think about walking 50 miles, not really, not at all. I'd done it (and more) several times before. I figured that I could do it. If I couldn't, well… I didn't think about that either. I suppose I imagined that I'd just stop. I definitely didn't think about doing it as a Wookie.

    Even now, a week and a half later, it doesn't seem tangible. Did I really walk 21 and a half miles in a tight, furry jacket? I remember the walk, the wind, the hair on the mouthpiece of my CamelBak. I remember the sidewise glance, the laughter, and photos. I see the pictures and know the moments. It just doesn't really compute.

    Who does that?

    A childhood friend texted a year ago to ask if I'd walk in this year's Challenge Walk MS: Savannah. She'd just crossed the finish line in a walk I'd hoped to make but missed with fundraising fatigue and a trip to Greece. I was a few months into my own diagnosis of multiple sclerosis when we walked 60 miles together for breast cancer; her husband had been diagnosed but talked little about it.

    My old friend learned more about the disease and her husband through my writing. She had picked up the mantle of the cause, and she wanted me to walk with her. I wanted to walk with her. I wanted to walk.

    As it turned out, we were an odd pair. She focused on costumes and props. Striking out MS, we spent one day each with baseball, bowling, and the Empire Strikes Back. She wanted to be Leia, a princess to the end. I wanted to be a Wookie.

    She focused on costumes, and I focused on walking, healing my injured ankle, and making it 50 miles. I had just shed a cast. I had just passed out of PT. I still limped (quite a bit), but I walked. I walked and I talked. I wrote and took pictures. I took one step. I took another, then another and another until I was done.

    Thanks to my teammates creativity, we won an award for best team shirts. Thanks to my perseverance and/or insanity, we both managed to walk 50 miles. She had never actually finished a walk without a SAG wagon, and I had never quit. My tenacity carried us, and we danced at the end of day 2, 40 miles into the walk.

    I figure that someday, maybe, I might stop and marvel at how all those steps have added up. Maybe I will think in wonder on the rookie Wookie I was, but I think that maybe it'll just seem like par for the course.
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