Feet on the Ground

Behind the Scenes of a Training Walk

By Melissa Johnson

Pictured John and Diane Felty, Denise Nott and Bill Stonier
Pictured John and Diane Felty, Denise Nott and Bill Stonier

On the beautiful morning of Sunday, Aug. 14, nine walkers participated in a vehicle-supported training walk in Old Saybrook sponsored by the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation. With the big walk less than two months away, on Oct. 1, marathoners were working to build their endurance.

The nine walkers, and their team names, were: Diane Viets, Sue Gardiner and Dawn Patterson of Legworks; father and son duo, both named John, and sister/daughter Diane of the Miles for Love; sisters Dawn and Jean Barrasso of the Dream Team; and Marianne Esposito of Cancer Crushers.

Volunteer Rayna Dakin and TBBCF Operations Director and former Walk Chair Kate Davis parked at various waypoints along the loop with refreshments. They were ready to come to the rescue if anyone needed to be picked up. Walkers could complete one or two 8-mile loops or a 6-mile loop.

John Felty and his son of the same name stopped at Rayna’s car at the McDonald’s parking lot in Old Saybrook, out of the trunk of which she was providing drinks and snacks. They were about 14 miles into the 16-mile walk. The elder John, who lives in Gales Ferry, shared that he began walking in memory of his mother, who suffered from breast cancer throughout her life.

“She had it in the early ’60s,” he explained. “Her first bout. Had a mastectomy, and then she was fine for a lot of years and eventually it kind of metastasized later, and she passed away in 2000. My mom fought it really hard. The last seven, eight years of her life were just really tough.”

The younger John, who lives in Preston, chimed in, “This is his fifth walk. I did it last year with him, and then my sister’s joining us this year.”

The elder John commented, “It’s kind of cool today, just to be with my two kids, you know? What I love about this foundation primarily is the 100% going into research. You know, there’s no middle person taking a portion.”

Sister and daughter Diane, who also lives in Gales Ferry, approached shortly after. When asked what inspired her to walk for TBBCF, she said, “My father’s technically my inspiration, because I’ve seen him do it five years now and John’s done it, so I was thinking I’ll give it a whirl. So, this is my first training walk, and it’s going well.”

Diane added, “I’ve been listening to a crime podcast, ‘Anatomy of Murder.’ As I’ve been trying to get ready for these walks, I’m hitting moments where I’m like, ‘I need something else to motivate me to keep me going,’ so I said on Facebook, ‘Give me some podcast recommendations.’”

As the Feltys continued on their way, Rayna said, “I’ve been volunteering since probably 2010. My [breast cancer] surgery was in 2009. I did the full marathon once and then I did the half-marathon twice and then I blew out my knee and I couldn’t walk anymore; I was so disappointed. I had a knee replacement.”

Now she works with fellow volunteer Anne Rochette and Kate Davis on the walks.

“Anne couldn’t be here today,” Rayna said. “She is amazing, she’s got the whole setup—medical kits, snacks, Gatorade, coolers. She makes peanut butter sandwiches.”

Seventeen walkers gathered in Old Saybrook on Aug. 28 for the third training walk. Rayna, Anne and Kate assisted. The final training walk of 2022 will be on Saturday, Sep. 10 in Mystic. For more information, visit tbbcf.org or follow the foundation on Facebook and Instagram.


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