2019 Endometriosis Awareness Walk Recap

2019 Bloomin' Uterus Endometriosis Awareness Walk Group photo of 275 attendees
2019 Group Photo by Compass Media Productions; view the full rez by clicking on the photo

On March 30, 2019, a few of us got together to support one another and walk together for Endometriosis awareness. This year we had a total of 275 attendees! Two Hundred Seventy-Five!!!! You guys – that’s insane!! I’m still so very excited! If you weren’t aware, this year we gathered once more at NTC Park at Liberty Station.

This was our first year where we actually had amplified sound (thanks for the generator, Todd!). So, we had a welcome speech, and several EndoSisters and their support came up to say a few words. The microphone was made available to anyone who wished to say a few words. Wonderful stories, thanks, and advice was shared.

We also had some beautiful posters up on display:

Infographic re: Endometriosis by artist Sarah Soward
Infographic re: Endometriosis by artist Sarah Soward; photograph by Compass Media Productions
Infographic re: Endometriosis on a few San Diego Endo Sisters by Bloomin' Uterus
Infographic re: Endometriosis on a few San Diego Endo Sisters by Bloomin’ Uterus (from 2018); photograph by Compass Media Productions

We also had a fun little temporary tattoo booth this year. We’d totally like to do this again! I was assured by the manufacturer that there was no latex in the tattoos, but someone had a small latex-allergic reaction. So sorry about that!

Our walk was a one-mile trek around the park, which ended back where we started. Many stayed afterward to enjoy lunch together on the grass in our perfect San Diego weather. It was wonderful. The whole damn day was wonderful.

I cannot amply express to you how wonderful it is to be surrounded by fellow EndoWarriors. And their family, friends, and support networks. There was SO much yellow! So many smiles. So many tears. We are all family. And we are all in this together. And just knowing that, seeing that, FEELING that with you all present – that is why we’ll continue to do these walks. Always.

FUNDRAISING

We had two running campaigns this year: 1) fundraising for the Endometriosis Foundation of America and 2) fundraising for the expenses of the walk.

This year we raised $1,771.63 for the Endometriosis Foundation of America! These funds came from online donations, button sales, bracelet sales, t-shirt sales, and the fundraising efforts of Tanya Linda and the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence! That’s way over our 2019 goal of $1,000! THANK YOU!

And this year we asked for your help to fund the costs of the walk (it cost $1,558.19 to put on this year’s walk). And with the generous support of our donors, 97.5% of our out-of-pocket costs was covered by donations! This truly is OUR walk! THANK YOU!!!!! If any of our readers would like to see a detailed accounting of costs and donations, please contact me. I’d love to share it all with you. 100% transparency here.

A special moment

Sister Donatella Soul of the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
The beautiful Sister Donatella Soul; photograph by Compass Media Productions

Before the walk started, Sister Donatella Soul took the microphone. She not only introduced herself and described what the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence do, but she took a moment to do something incredible for me. Let me preface by saying I’ve known Donatella since 2015 and she’s been a constant pillar of strength for my own Endo journey, and those of others. We’ve become incredibly close and I am honored with her presence in my life. She’s also made it her personal mission to advocate for those with Endometriosis and to raise awareness for this illness. She’s incredible; she’s one of my heroes.

Even sitting her trying to type it out brings tears to my eyes. She recognized my efforts, not only for the walk, but for bringing our community together; gathering EndoWarriors, giving us a place to learn, love, and grow together. I do not do this for the recognition. If you know me, you know that.

But Donatella petitioned the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to give me the highest honor they could bestow upon a non-member: the title of Angel Anne Doe, Keeper of the Flowering Chalice of Power. And the title came with a beautiful certificate, a lovely lapel pin of angel wings, and the best hug EVER.

My hero. My hero did this for me. And I am so honored. And touched.

Certificate naming Angel Anne Doe, Keeper of the Flowering Chalice of Power

ALL THE Photographs!!!

Viewing these photographs may best be done on a PC or laptop as the image sizes are large and loading times may vary. if you SAVE and/or share these photographs, please give credit to the respective photographers.

A HUGE thank you to Richard T. Reyes and Exxes Hauffen of Compass Media Productions. Year after year, you two come back and capture our moments, our hugs, our memories, and our strength; all out of the goodness of your hearts. You’re incredible. And we thank you for it.

Richard T. Reyes:

Richard has been a huge part of my Endometriosis journey and an incredible part of our little Endo family. He has been photographing our EndoWalks and gatherings for four years now and we are blessed to call him friend. ❤ Richard shares three galleries of photos with us today: a group photo, the pre-walk gathering , and the walk itself. Not only is he an incredible photographer, but also a wonderful artist! You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Compass Media Productions:

Exxes Hauffen of Compass Media Productions is a good friend of mine, too. We met a few years ago as he was the videographer for our wedding. And we kind of bonded over various interests and now he’s stuck with me. Exxes has also streamlined the “Stronger than Endo” project, making it possible for a few of us EndoWarriors to share our stories, as well as spread awareness of the illness. The full interviews of each participant will be released later this year. Exxes donates his time, skill, and passion to our walks as a photographer. You can view the Title page for our EndoWalk photographs, or follow the page directly to Endo Walk photos (while we circled the park) and the Endo Gathering (speeches, arrivals, etc.). If you would like to download any of the photographs taken by Compass Media Productions, please do so before July 11, 2019. If you’d like to view the high-res version of our group photo, just scroll back to the top and click on it; it will open in a new window.

There are several videos and photographs that our walkers have shared on their Facebook pages. Many of which were tagged in our Event. Please feel free to check our Facebook event page for any posts, photos, or videos as well.

If you have ANY issues accessing these photographs, please contact me.

Prizes

This year we had a game of Endo Bingo (or as some called it, Endo Tic-Tac-Toe) thanks to an EndoWarrior in our BU Crew, Andrea. It was a fun way to get people involved with one another, learn about Endometriosis journeys, or what support people went through.

Our Bingo card! Photo by Richard T. Reyes

At the end of the walk, everyone turned in their Bingo cards and winners where randomly pulled out of a big box. A huge thanks to our prize donors this year:

1.  A brand spankin’ new Livia unit!  Many gals have found relief from menstrual cramps when using this little device (myself included).  It’s a $150 value.  Thank you Livia!
2.  A gift certificate to Natural Harmony Reproductive Health (I love you Merritt!) for an initial consultation and acupuncture session. A $175 value.  Thank you Merritt Jones!
3.  A gift certificate to Sacral Spaces for either a 90-minute session of acupuncture OR an introduction to pelvic reintegration work.  A $230 value.  Thank you Maggie Flood!
4.  A gift certificate to Skin & Wax Bar in Poway for some pampering! A $50 value!  Thanks Skin & Wax Bar!!! 
5.  A $50 gift certificate for a service with Hair By Kayleigh Elizabeth in Carlsbad, CA! This woman puts a little bit of color into my life…
6.  A $50 gift certificate for a handmade flowered crown by MsFormaldehynde,
7.  A foot reflexology session by Youko Hasegawa of Youko Touch.

Lisa Howard holding up Liva unit for Bingo prize
Bingo prizes! Photography by Compass Media Productions

Volunteers

I would like to take a moment to thank ALL of our volunteers for this year’s walk; whether you were assigned a volunteer role or just stepped up and filled a need. This would not have been possible without your help. Brooklyn, Caryn, Heather, my husband, Kelly, Kristin, Leesett, Marie, Mom, Nicole, Timbrely, Todd, Rosie, Emily, and Kathryn; I owe you so much gratitude. And if I missed someone, please let me know. ❤

I’d also like to shout out to our vendors who made the walk doable: The City of San Diego Parks & Recreation Department for the permit, Debris Box for the trash dumpster, and Safiro’s Sanitation for the port-o-potties.

And if you are a member of our BU support group, you (hopefully) received a keychain created and donated by Sierra Alford. They’re gorgeous! If you didn’t get yours, get in touch with me!

And if anyone would like to volunteer for future walks in any capacity, please contact me.

Memories

As part of our 2019 wrap-up survey to all attendees, I asked people to share their favorite moments. And I share them with you (with permission, of course):

  • It was a beautiful setting to have the walk. It really touched me to see the other women who are going through the same issues I am. Just being with everyone was my favorite!
  • My sisters face, smiling enjoying herself, as if nothing was wrong at all, that is priceless.
  • It was all amazing as it was our first walk and we loved that there was over twice the amount of support people that was lovely.
  • It’s hard to pick a favorite moment, I love it all. The speeches were great.
  • The unexpected honor bestowed upon me by Sister Donatella Soul on behalf of the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: the title of “Angel Anne Doe: Keeper of the Flowering Chalice of Power.” I don’t do this for the recognition. Ever. But it was so damn touching and wonderful and perfect. And I need a tissue now just thinking about it. The amount of people who have come up to me afterward, or emailed/texted telling me I deserve those wings, that I am an angel, and also having my surgeon tell me recently that I am an angel sent from heaven for our EndoWarriors – it’s too much. And having one of my dearest friends be the one to give me those wings is priceless. Surrounded by my friends and family? Even moreso. It is my honor, privilege, and joy to bring us together, and I love our little family. Thank you.
  • Group picture.
  • Meeting all my endo sisters and seeing all the amazing supporters we had there.
  • Hugging my sisters!
  • Lisa’s tutu!!! So fluffy & squishy.
  • The walk.
  • Lisa getting Angel wings!
  • The whole thing from beginning to end!!
  • Supporting.
  • The talks before the group picture, made me cry and touched my heart!
  • Watching everyone get big hugs.
  • Seeing how much the walk has grown. Loved the breathing and stretching before hand. And listening to the fellow speakers.
  • When the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence made Lisa an Angel.
  • All of them.
  • Donatella’s speech.
  • Opening remarks.
  • Lisa’s being initiated into the Sister’s of Perpetual Indulgence. (I’m not crying, you’re crying).
  • Being able to see the community and come together.
  • Just seeing other sisters that are in the areas seeing that I am not alone.
  • Meeting new people!
  • Speeches before the walk, my husband loved [Lisa’s] husband’s speech!
  • When I was able to thank all the beautiful endosisters, Lisa, and my family for their love and support through my journey. I also would say it would be making a new friend. Caryn she was so friendly and awesome!!
  • The walk.

We look forward to many more memories ahead.

Snafus

Like any event, we had a few snafus, hang-ups, and mistakes. We will always strive to get better and better each year, but this year’s were a bit fun. Thanks to everyone who submitted feedback surveys!

  1. There were two sets of port-o-potties this year! What?!? And one you couldn’t even get into! Well, it turns out the set closest to the City restrooms belonged to an event that was scheduled for March 31, 2019; the next day. They had their Blue Rooms delivered early (much to the surprise of the City representative who was present), and placed the portos in a fashion to where they could not be accessed by anyone. This caused a bit of confusion among several attendees. Our two lonely port-o-potties were further down in the parking lot surrounded by yellow cones. If you had the pleasure of using our porto’s, they were so immaculate and clean! OMG!! I’ll use Safiro’s FOREVER!
  2. The park has a weird “no signs” rule. I’m going to talk to the City representative for next year because there were a few other events going on in the park that morning and having a big ol’ yellow sign would be helpful to directing traffic to the appropriate field. We’d also like to have signage for the Tattoo Parlor, Check-in, and the Medical area to better point out these fun little stations.
  3. The event started at 11:00, but the walk didn’t head out ’til about 40 minutes later. There were games and speeches and stretching between check-in and walking. Some people weren’t able to stay due to tight schedules…so for next year we’ll be releasing a schedule of events. (Why didn’t I think of that before?!?!)
  4. I’ve received such wonderful feedback about our check-in volunteers. Check-in, I understand, was a bit confusing because it was by first name this year. In year’s past, it’s been by last name. So please expect to register with mandatory last names in future events. Also in the future, if you register for multiple people, you will have the option to pick up everyone’s badges when you check-in .

Every year we learn. And every year we put new ideas to work. And, again, thank you to EVERYONE who submitted feedback. If you have any other ideas on how we can continue to improve our walks, you can email them to me at any time.

What’s next?

So many things!!! I’ve never been one to just have a walk once a year and leave you Warriors stranded for the rest of the 364 days. We do stuff often!

  • We meet once a month for a face-to-face support group meeting. We’ve got one on April 14, 2019, and another on April 27, 2019.
  • We hold workshops as often as we can arrange them with professionals! We’ve got the May 19, 2019, Navigating Painful Sex workshop by our very own Maggie Flood coming up!
  • In June, my excision surgeon Dr. Mel Kurtulus and I will be presenting about Endometriosis to the Exceptional Family Member’s Program at the Marine Corp. Recruitment Depot.
  • A workshop about Pelvic Floor Therapy and Endometriosis is in the works.
  • A workshop about the emotional affects of Endometriosis (and how best to handle it) is also in the works.
  • Planning for 2020’s walk is already underway. Again, if you’re interested in volunteering please contact me.
  • We’ll be putting together separate online forums for moms, dads, siblings, friends, and partners of EndoWarriors to email each other to discuss tips, tricks, suggestions, share stories, and support one another.
  • Have an idea for an event, workshop, etc.? Let me know!

Again, thank you to everyone involved in our 2019 walk: and this goes to volunteers, photographers, and attendees. I’m still flying high, even several weeks later.

See you in 2020!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s