Local woman taking many steps to show her support

BREMEN — There are many people who donate or give of themselves for a wide variety of charities and organizations. But there are few that will walk 60 miles in three days to raise money and awareness for a charity neither they or their loved ones suffer from.
Bremen’s Debi Sahlhoff is the exception, and she will do it for the fourth year Aug. 10 through 12 in Chicago, Ill.
“I’ve walked it twice in Chicago and once in Denver,” she explained. “They change the route though so it’s not always the same and they try to make it as scenic as they can.”
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure began in 1983 to raise awareness and funds for the breast cancer movement and to celebrate survivorship. Since then it has grown from 800 participants the first year in Dallas, Texas to more than 140 races with more than 1.6 million participants from four continents.
“The first year (2005) I decided to walk with two other girls from my (State Farm, Bremen) office because not only was it a great cause, but we could walk and talk and not get into trouble for it,” Sahlhoff explained. “I signed up and raised the registration ($2,300) and then the other two backed out. I figured I had made the commitment so I was going, and I did. It was a life-changing, eye-opening event and because I was pretty good at it and I decided that it was my ‘thing.’”
She said she was emotionally moved by the more than 2,600 men and women, sons and daughters, survivors and families of those that didn’t survive, gathered together for a single cause.
Sahlhoff said this year she “coerced” her friend Jennifer Price, who has a family member that’s a survivor, to join her.
Sahlhoff shares what the three-day event entails. “Raising the money is a huge commitment all its own,” she explained. “We sleep in tents they provide us and you bring your own gear. You have to have everything in one bag and it has to be less than 35 pounds.”
She said the 60-miles trek isn’t timed and that participants split it up with nearly 22 miles the first and second days, and walk the remaining distance the third. Participants stop for lunch and there are water and resting stations for them along the route.
“They have safety people to help with crossing the streets and directing traffic,” she explained. “Some people in teams dress up all goofy for moral support. They try to make it fun but it’s also very humbling.”
The mother of two said since she has become involved, people she’s known for years have confided to her that they or someone they know has fought or is fighting the disease. At the conclusion of this year’s event, Sahlhoff will have walked 240 miles. She said: “It takes a toll on my feet but I’m a firm believer in it. You can get hotel accommodations but for me it’s not only the experience with walking with the people. Eating in the mess tent, walking 22 miles each day, camping on the ground, the connections you make with the people you meet — that’s the full experience. Sure it’s a little pain and suffering but it’s only a small sampling of what someone goes through that’s battling breast cancer.”
Sahlhoff has held a couple fundraising events and has made up beaded bracelets and place mat tote bags for sale to raise money for the cause. To donate, contact her by the end of July at 574-248-1122 or at State Farm at 574-546-4422. To learn more about the event, visit www.the3day.org online.