The color pink does run - a lot | Kris Hill

It’s no secret that I hate the color pink. True, I have come to see it as a neutral color since my daughter Lyla arrived almost two years ago, but still it’s not a color I have in abundance in my wardrobe.

It’s no secret that I hate the color pink.

True, I have come to see it as a neutral color since my daughter Lyla arrived almost two years ago, but still it’s not a color I have in abundance in my wardrobe.

But, on Sept. 16 my Facebook feed was filled with pink as friends and professional contacts posted photos from the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk for the Cure.

And I didn’t mind the pink.

First of all, I’ve known Tina McDonough for two years now, at least I think so. McDonough is the founder and amazing leader of Valley Girls & Guys, a team she founded a few years ago to walk in memory of a close friend, Michelle.

McDonough’s friend may have lost the battle with cancer — and since then, she has lost other loved ones — but she continues to fight on.

As a result, Valley Girls & Guys has grown beyond even McDonough’s wildest dreams, becoming the largest team in the state and the highest fundraising, as well. In fact, it’s quite likely this group raised more money than any other team in the country.

This year more than 150 walkers — nearly double the number on the team last year — raised more than $320,000.

I am friends with McDonough on Facebook. I also liked the Valley Girls & Guys Facebook page so I could keep up with everything the team was doing as it prepared for this year’s walk.

Every time a new person joined the team, and sometimes they came in twos or threes, she posted. And I celebrated.

There are times when I don’t have to be objective to tell someone’s story. And I won’t lie. I am absolutely biased when it comes to Valley Girls & Guys.

They are an example of how awesome this community is and I am proud to say I live here, to say I know McDonough but I also feel lucky that I get to write about this group’s accomplishments.

I must confess that while I have always thought this was awesome, I didn’t quite get it, I didn’t understand why anyone would walk 60 miles on a weekend in September when they could very well be watching football or playing outside in the sunshine.

Now, though, I get it.

But, this year, it was a bit more personal for me. It was more than just pride as a journalist and as a member of this community.

For the first time in my life cancer hit close to home. In April I got an email from a close friend, someone who is like a big sister to me, saying we wouldn’t be able to meet up for lunch soon as we had planned because she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

My friend Ilyse has been in my life since I was 16 years old. She was my math teacher. But, more than that, she was an advocate for me and my own personal cheerleader. She helped me with homework. She helped me get into college. She went above and beyond the call of duty.

We’ve stayed in touch over the years. But, she’s always been an important part of my life, not just someone I talk to now and again.

Ilyse was at my graduation from the University of Washington as proud of me as my own family.

Two weeks before that she was at my wedding where she read out of Songs of Solomon.

I got to meet all her kids when they were newborns and I’ve watched them grow up, mostly through photos, but now they are all in grade school.

Her family is amazing. I could tell all kinds of stories about how lucky I am to have her in my life.

One of the first people I contacted when I found out about Ilyse’s diagnosis was Tina McDonough.

If anyone knew what I was going through, it would be her.

I asked her to add Ilyse to their list of people they were walking for at the 3 Day.

So, when I saw all the photos of pink on Sept. 16 on Facebook, I was so proud.

I didn’t mind all the pink.

Heck, I’ve even got a little pink on now.

As I was heading out of McDonough’s office on Monday I asked her what the pink rubber bracelet on her wrist said. “Faith Courage” with a ribbon between the two words.

She immediately took it off and handed it to me. Normally I would decline such a gift but I took it from her.

That bracelet was on her wrist while she did the 3 Day. It looks a little worn and is faded.

It may have been a small gesture, just a way to get me wearing some pink, but it means a lot to me.

I immediately put it on.

Now I am wearing pink for McDonough, for the battle she’s fought on behalf of those she’s lost to breast cancer, but also for my friend Ilyse, who is a survivor.

Maybe I don’t hate pink so much after all.

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Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He is a former president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. Contact
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