Another September Sunday, another incredible outing with the Cook Clan and their extended family and friends taking part in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk.
For nearly a decade, we've been walking the miles, in honor of Jackie's sister, Annie, who's beaten back leukemia twice since 2003. She wasn't able to join us on the course this year, but made sure to check in via telephone frequently to monitor our progress.
This year, though, the walk took on a different look, as Walk Star Jackie took this year off, recovering as she is from thyroid surgery last week. I was more than honored - in fact I can honestly say it was truly one of the highest honors of my life - to step in and happily take her place, in her honor and to represent out along the course, alongside Wonder Walker Heather.
So this year, I shed the Annie's Army shirt in honor of Jack, and went with a teal shirt, which is one of the colors to recognize the fight against thyroid cancer.
A couple of miles in, and Heather and I stopped at the first watering hole in Wellesley, where we saw the stunning work of the Sandwich Squad. Hundreds upon hundreds of sandwiches stacked up for the army of walkers.
You'll see a few more of these pics, with banners representing not only the brave souls who fight back the ills of cancer, but the folks like my beautiful daughter who log the miles and raise money to fight the disease by supporting the Jimmy Fund.
Turning onto Commonwealth Avenue by the fire station, we were greeted by the cheer squad at Survivor's Island
Where naturally, Heather had to dance the limbo
At each mile marker there's a sandwich board highlighting the inspirational stories of cancer survivors. Heather makes sure to give each of them a congratulatory tap
Resilience, indeed, especially for holding up so well halfway through the infamous hills in Newton
A walking legend, along with a running legend, the King of the Boston Marathon, Johnny Kelly. (You didn't think I was talking about me, did you?)
Heather is all smiles. Why? She just made it to the top of Heartbreak Hill
Heather is out there giving hope to cancer fighters everywhere
Heading into the home stretch with temps hitting 81 degrees, the father-daughter team pose before the infamous Citgo sign in Kenmore Square
Huge high-fives for the army of volunteers who make the walk a pleasure
And then suddenly, as we entered Kenmore Square, we saw the orange shirts. The rest of Annie's Army - the other half of our Cook foursome, as well as Jackie's cousin Cheryl Cook and LPD co-worker Feby Colon - was ready to join the forced march!
Andrew, as you can see, likes to make his point when photo-bombing
Headed for home, the best of buds
As regular readers of this blog know, the finish line of the Boston Marathon holds a special meaning for us. Whether it be where we wrap up the 26.2 mile run in April or the 13.1 mile trek every September, it's always a welcome sight.
My favorite people in the world
If you've read any of the previous years blogs about this walk, you know the walk-day fashion is all about the socks, and this year was no different. Sock Stars.
And because I know so many of you have been concerned for his well-being, and rightfully so, I took a couple of shots just to show that yes, Andrew was indeed fed. He's not wasting away.
And finally, the person behind every step I took today - my brave and beautiful wife. I'd walk across the country for her, and back again if need be. As if I ever needed reassurance that we're doing good work by pounding the pavement for these conquer cancer benefit walks, I've got one now more than ever. She'll be back on the trail next year, but until then, I'm just proud as all hell to be able to walk by her side.
Thanks to everyone who donated already to Heather and Jackie's fund-raising efforts. You can still make donations to help cure this insidious disease by clicking here: Jimmy Fund Walk and entering either Jackie or Heather's names. Thanks all!