In normal life, I don’t think you could call me a hugger. Don’t get me wrong. I hug my wife, kids and other family members, but I usually don’t include people outside of that in my hugging. There are occasions where it happens, but when I get together with friends I don’t greet them with a hug. There are probably a lot of people out there that can identify with me. It’s not that I don’t like people, I just don’t typically hug someone unless they are somehow related to me.
In more ways than one, I am a different person when I am on the 3-Day for the Cure. This includes hugs.
In 2007 when I first started walking in the 3-Day, you couldn’t probably say the same thing. At the beginning of that walk, if a stranger had come up to me and asked for a hug, I might have given it to them, but not because I wanted to. But during the course of that walk something happened. I ended up not being able to walk with my team for most of the last day that year. Kandice had been red carded, though I know she would have continued walking if they would have let her, and my mom had been having knee problems the whole weekend. I ended up walking with another team, that was really nice. We talked and they accepted me as part of their team. By the end of that day, even though I had known them for maybe six hours, they were like family to me. When we got to the finish, I gave them all a big hug. Then when I saw my teammates, I gave them both a huge hug and started crying.
It was a long and exhausting walk and it was really good to see the both of them at the end of the day. I think in that moment, a switch got turned on. I realized that everyone on the 3-Day is your family, so it doesn’t matter if you’re not comfortable with giving hugs to strangers, these people are not strangers.
If you are getting ready for your first 3-Day, you may be thinking that it’s not possible, that there is no way that you will feel comfortable hugging someone that you meet on the walk. Before you make that determination, I want you to think about why that someone might need a hug. Maybe they have blisters on their feet and don’t feel like they can make it, but they know that they can’t stop. Maybe their teammate recently lost their fight against breast cancer and now instead of walking on a team with them, they are walking in their honor. Maybe they get reminded of loved ones every time they go on the 3-Day and need a hug to ground them. Or maybe, just maybe, they think that their family member (you!) needed a hug.
Whatever the reason is, if you see me on the walk, don’t hesitate to come give me a hug. If you’re in Dallas and you need a hug, come meet me at the Energizer® tent in camp, where I will be spending my evenings as the Keep Going® Blogger. I welcome the hugs. Like I said, you’re family.