Sharon Gustafson and Kathy Grace of Bemus Point, Lorraine Diggs of Jamestown and Kirsten Bishop of Lakewood are planning a weekend in New York in late October.
While in the Big Apple, they'll go through the Upper West and East Sides of Manhattan, check out Greenwich Village, SoHo and Chinatown. They'll see Central Park, Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall and, of course, they'll take in the spectacular views of one of the world's most famous cities as they cross the Brooklyn Bridge.
But to call it a vacation would not be doing the trip justice.
Pictured from left are Kathy Grace, Lorraine Diggs, Sharon Gustafson and Kirsten Bishop. The area women will participate in the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer in New York City on Oct. 20-21.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
Fact is, the women are on a mission, a very important mission, one, they hope - along with thousands of others - will help raise awareness and funds for the treatment of breast cancer.
Officially, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is a national series of fundraising events, which were first launched in 2003 by the Avon Foundation. The local women, who are seeking donations for the cause, will do a walking marathon (26.2 miles) on Oct. 20 followed by a walking half-marathon (13.1 miles) on Oct. 21.
That's 39.3 miles.
At the end of Day 1, they'll stay at the Wellness Village in Randall's Island, sleep in two-person tents, enjoy a hot shower, a hearty dinner or maybe even a yoga class or a foot massage and then tackle Day 2.
''There's no better place I'd like to go than New York City,'' Sharon said.
But it was actually her husband, Bob, who provided the motivation - the gentle nudge if you will - to even consider such an endeavor. Sharon, a breast cancer survivor, agreed and then asked her friends to join her. And for the last six weeks they've followed a prescribed training regimen to get ready for the big weekend.
''We're trying to see different parts of Chautauqua County,'' Sharon said.
Added Kathy: ''I've lived in Bemus Point for 25 years and there are parts of Chautauqua County I haven't seen until our walks.''
The longest training walk they've done to date is 13 miles and they were scheduled to do 15 today and seven more on Sunday.
''There are a lot of hills,'' Kathy said, ''but we're doing 13-14 minute miles. We'll be going up a hill and we'll say that once we get up it it will be all down hill from there, but then we get to another big hill.''
But the women remain undaunted by the training or the nearly 40 miles they'll do in 24 hours in October.
''People will say, '40 miles? How can you walk that?' And I'll say, 'Compared to what family and friends have gone through it's the least I can do,''' Kathy said.
Kirsten has not yet been able to join her friends in the training because she is recovering from a broken foot. She has been exercising on her own, however, and expects to be ready to take part in New York.
''This sounds really cool,'' Kirsten said. ''It's sort of a foreign concept for me, training as a team.''
But along with the training comes the camaraderie and the stories and the knowledge that they're doing something for a worthy cause.
''People have been saying to all of us that we're motivating them in their personal lives,'' Lorraine said, ''both from the awareness, but also from the 'get-walking' and the 'get-moving.' They're saying, 'If you can walk that far, I can certainly get on my treadmill.'''
The women have not only been ''overwhelmed'' with donations so far, Sharon said, but they've also been touched by the way people have done it.
Kathy, the mother of two college-age children, told the story of how her daughter, Rachael, surprised her on Friday morning. One day before the Grace family would take her to the University of Pittsburgh to begin her senior year, Rachael asked her mom how the donations were coming along.
''When I went to work,'' Kathy said, ''I found a beautiful note with a donation in my purse. It was from Rachael stating that she wanted to give because other people needed it more than she did.
''That was really nice.''
The women are continuing to accept donations. Those interested in supporting the cause can send checks -made out to Avon Walk for Breast Cancer - to Sharon. Her address is P.O. Box 397, Bemus Point, 14712.
''Every little bit helps,'' Lorraine said, ''and not just in terms of dollars, but on a personal level to help some people like Sharon does. If we can help inspire that in people we have accomplished a grander goal.''