Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Power of Walking with a Friend

Posted By: Michelle Ashcraft

For much of my life I have been considered “one of the guys” in the various circles of friends I have found myself in. However, in the latter part of my 25 years of life thus far I have been tremendously blessed to form some of my most powerful friendships with some amazing women that I have met throughout the end of my collegiate career. This blog is dedicated to one of those women.

Meeting Mandie Thacker
On the evening of Monday, March 5, 2007 I was sitting in at a table in a residence hall on the University of South Carolina campus. Unexpectedly a second-year HESA student named Mandie Thacker sat down next to me and offered me a second-round interview with University 101 Programs. Two days later at noon on the dot my phone was ringing while I sat in my OLS 450 class, and I prayed that it was Mandie (or Jenn L.) calling to offer me an assistantship in the U101 office. Sure enough I had a voicemail from Mandie when I got out, and I had the job.

Shortly after that day I was looking through Mandie’s Facebook profile. She was from Seymour, TN. I was from Seymour, IN. She had a Yorkie (at the time). I had a Yorkie. She liked sweet tea and Moe’s. I lived off of sweet tea and ate Moe’s every Friday with a friend. We had the same taste in music and had many of the same hobbies. We were destined to be friends.

Flash forward just over 3 years to this past weekend and you’d find Mandie and I in our perfect world – sitting on the couch together in our pajamas with a bowl of homemade Chex Mix between us and a puppy on either side, and finally feeling “at home” again. We have become best friends. We have become family. We have grown together. We have changed together. We have become one another’s support network and voice of reason. She is, I am certain, one of the many women from U101 (Jenn L., K.Pei, and JP included) that I will call a friend for the rest of my life.

Weekend Walks with a Friend
Mandie’s life just recently did a complete 360-degree turn. Within the last couple of months she’s gotten a new job, gotten engaged, moved back to Tennessee, is house-hunting, and is planning a wedding for which I have the honor of serving as MOH (Maid of Honor). The big move landed her at my house this past weekend for a visit, and she came prepared with tennis shoes and pink clothing, ready to join me on my training walks. It was so nice to have someone join me. I’ve definitely loved the quiet time that my training walks have given me, but it was amazing how different the experience was to walk with a friend – which makes me look forward to the actual 3-Day event even more!

Our conversations were consumed by the “adult” things that are now taking over our lives – new jobs, new homes, wedding plans, and future families. I think we’d both admit that we are a little afraid of how fast our lives are moving forward, but glad that we have each other to go through it together. What Mandie doesn’t know is that while we explored the varied sidewalk paths throughout my community and campus, and overanalyzed every little “what if” the next year might bring, I was thinking of her granny Jamia Clark.

Among many others, I am walking in memory of Mandie’s grandmother. However, it wasn’t until this weekend that I realized what that meant. I’ve never met Jamia Clark. I’ve only heard a few stories of her from Mandie. But this weekend it suddenly hit me that I owe a rather large “thank you” to her. Why? Because if it wasn’t for her, Mandie wouldn’t have been walking next to me this past weekend. So, for the rest of this journey I’m not only in memory of Jamia, but also out of thanks for her playing a role in bringing me one of the best friends I’ve ever known.

Thanks and Hope for Women Everywhere
Just as Mandie’s visit prompted my thoughts of Jamia, my thought of Jamia prompted me to put this journey I am taking into perspective. I have many, many, many mothers, and grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers (and so on) to thank for the friends, family, and colleagues that have so greatly impacted my life. Of course, I have fathers, and grandfathers, and great-grand-fathers (and so on) to thank as well, but there is something powerful in thinking about the history of women who have carried the infinite souls that eventually created the people in my life today. Some of those people have passed due to breast cancer; some have not. However, it is likely that many have been touched by the issue in some way over the years that have brought us to where we are today. I hate to think that the mothers, and grandmothers, and sisters, and aunts, and daughters of this lifetime have to worry about a future life with breast cancer. Thus, my walk is now more than just awareness. It’s more than just a hope for the cure. It’s a thank you to the mothers, and grandmothers, and great-grandmothers (and so on) who have fought the fight, and continue to fight the fight, KNOWING that one day we WILL find a cure.

Fundraising Update and MANY Thanks
This week was another great week for fundraising. Many thanks go to the following people and businesses for supporting me and donating $125 this week:

- Becky Jordan – colleague from the University of Kentucky.
- Dave Geis & Jackson County Bank – Dave is a family friend and president of Jackson County Bank, my hometown bank in Seymour, IN.

That brings my total to $1,595.00, which is 69% of my goal. (The Insider Pages money hasn’t cleared yet.) It’s also been a successful fundraising week for my teammates, and together we have reached 20% of our total team goal, raising $3,647.00 so far!

Breast Cancer Fact of the Week
“The 2009 Komen 3-Day for the Cure took place in 15 cities nationwide and raised more than $91 million.” (2009 3-Day Report Card)

The Numbers
This week I was scheduled for three 3-mile walks and one 4-mile walk. In total I walked 13.12 miles this week, or 37,929 steps. That brings my complete training total to 25.24 miles and 72,955 steps.

Peaceful walking this week to you and all the women in your life!



  1. Katie Lynch-HolmesMay 26, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    Sheesh... youre not supposed to make me cry. That wasn't nice! Beautiful blog and remarkably touching.

  2. Katie, you're not the only one. Apparently I made Mandie cry too. Didn't mean too! Hope that your walking is going well. Miss you tons. Let's plan a time to meet halfway for a weekend soon!