Formerly a teacher at Woodstock High and now a substitute teacher, she has been careful not to be scheduled to work today.
Miriam is participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Race for the Cure. She will walk 60 miles, 20 per day, beginning at Stone Mountain and ending on Sunday at Turner Field.
This is Miriam’s third year to participate in the fundraiser for the cure of breast cancer. Hundreds of thousands of people die from breast cancer each year. While most are women, men are not immune.
The rules allow only one bag weighing no more than thirty pounds for each person. For the next two nights, they will be camping. Their tents will be indoors. In her bag, Miriam has a sleeping bag, an air mattress and just enough clothes for the weekend.
Those clothes are comfortable and can be layered. A sweatshirt with a t-shirt underneath may be just right in the cool mornings, but the sweatshirt can be peeled off when she works up a sweat. She is hoping for sunshine. But rain or shine, she will be walking.
Miriam is on a team of 10 people named Hoofin’ for Hooters. On their team shirts they have a horse and owls.
Nine of the team members are women. The tenth is the husband of the team captain. They are only a few of the hundreds of thousands who participate worldwide.
Others who have been involved in the past, like Miriam, describe the event as tiring, rewarding and fun all the way. As she said, “The whole experience is incredible.” New friendships are made and older ones are renewed.
Spectators are an important part of the event. Some put signs of encouragement in their yards. The walkers are greeted by well wishers at designated cheering stations. Miriam remembers last year a “garage band” was playing as the walkers went by.
She does not remember the name of the music. It could have been Helen Reddy’s “I am woman, Hear me roar, In numbers too big to ignore…”
Equally appropriate would have been Charles Tindley’s gospel song, “We Shall Overcome,” as the battle to overcome breast cancer continues.
The event planners are masters of organization. Big trucks carry the luggage of the walkers from place to place. Others carry portable toilets and portable showers. Some trucks pull kitchens for preparing breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the thousands who are a part of the event.
Would you believe that Miriam has not lost weight when she has walked the 60 miles in past years? Even more surprising is that each year she has gained from three to five pounds. She explains that walkers are well fed and hydrated the entire time.
As is expected, safety is a high priority. Some streets are blocked. Volunteers on motorcycles and bikes ride up and down the streets looking for anyone needing help. Vans pick up those who want to ride to the next stop.
Many people add to the fun by what they are wearing. Last year, some dressed as Native American chiefs, while others wore pink tutus with pink wings.
Since the icon of breast cancer is pink, walkers and spectators see lots of the color. Even the tents volunteers will sleep in are hot pink.
Miriam’s husband, Bradley, understands this is something Miriam feels deeply she should do. So do her parents, Tom and Joan Hill. They show their support for her and care for the children — Nora and Eli.
Miriam plans to continue walking the 3-Day Race for the Cure each year. Nora wants to walk with her when she is old enough.
When the participants in the 3-Day Race for the Cure reach Turner Field on Sunday, there will be a closing ceremony.
It will be highly emotional as the walkers and the volunteers celebrate their success and salute cancer survivors.
Those who walk put on their clothes names of people they want to honor who have died from or survived breast cancer.
As a survivor of breast cancer myself, I am humbled that Miriam is wearing my name.
Miriam wrote on her calendar last year that today is the first day of the 3-Day walk. Here is hoping she has reserved Monday, too. Her body, especially her feet, will deserve a day off.
And here is hoping, too, that a cure for cancer will be found and our children and grandchildren will never suffer from it.
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.