For want of a peanut butter sandwich …
By Kathleen Edgecomb
It wasn’t supposed to be about peanut butter sandwiches. It was supposed to be about giving back to the community, helping those affected by breast cancer and raising money for the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation.
When Anne Rochette first planned a walker trainer day prior to TBBCF’s signature fundraiser — an annual marathon walk from old Saybrook to Waterford — she packed her car with water, sports drinks, fruit, granola bars and homemade peanut butter sandwiches cut into quarters. And suddenly everyone was talking about the sandwiches.
“People immediately started telling me they were the best sandwiches,” said Rochette during an interview at her Mystic home, recalling that first training session. “They were saying, ‘These are the best. Can I have the recipe.’”
Rochette, a customer services supervisor at Connecticut College who retired this past summer after a 30-year career, walked in the first TBBCF marathon after reading a story in The Day newspaper about TBBCF and its mission to give 100 percent of fundraising dollars directly to researchers looking for a cure.
She finished all 26.2 miles, and the former runner was asked if she wanted to volunteer and help out the non-profit organization. She agreed and eventually was assigned “walker training.”
“I love doing this. It’s the best job,” she said. “It’s a chance to support people doing a big thing in their lives.”
In addition to training walkers, on the day of the October walk, she makes fives loaves of sandwiches and places them at stations along the route.
Every year hundreds of cancer survivors, and those who support them, sign up for the annual walk. Many do the full marathon, while others walk a half or quarter marathon. Each walker is responsible for raising a certain amount of money to participate.
TBBCF provides tips on getting ready for the walk and links to recommended reading in a Walkers Guide found on its website tbbcf.org. It is hosting four training walks this year, Aug. 12 and Sept. 9 in Old Saybrook and Aug. 25 and Sept. 22 in Mystic.
Rochette donates a couple hundred dollars of drinks and snacks, and band-aides. She also turns a loaf of bread into peanut butter sandwiches, omitting jelly because, well, she doesn’t like her peanut butter and jelly mixed together. She arranges for two or three support vehicles to patrol the route, offering encouragement along the way.
She said people should train to walk the marathon, even if they are runners.
“It’s a really big distance to walk” she said. “If you’re doing the full marathon you want your body prepared. If you don’t train, you will be a hurting puppy that day.”
There’s a lot of camaraderie in training, she said, and she’s made some lifelong friends. And although breast cancer has not touched her life or anyone in her family, she said she’s met some amazing people whose lives have been forever changed by a cancer diagnosis.
“It’s everywhere,” she said. “But this is so rewarding for me.”
Oh, and here’s her recipe for the sandwiches. She slathers a thick layer of whatever kind of smooth peanut butter she has in her cupboard on Freihofer’s whole wheat bread.
“They (the walkers) are working so hard anything will taste good,” she said, chuckling at her notoriety as a great sandwich maker. “It’s the weirdest thing.”
For more information on the walk and times and routes for training, go to https://tbbcf.org/ or call (860) 437-1400.