Erin Calufetti-Schumacher

Reunited
Tuesday, August 14
The first night we all arrived in Iceland, the team picked right back up where we left off from the training hike without even missing a beat. We had all been counting down the days until we got to see each other again and staying in touch daily on a group chat discussing everything, from what to pack, things in our daily lives and, of course, having plenty of laughs especially after each call with our trek leader, Ben. The first night together in Iceland, we all knew we should get to bed early, but we stayed up late into the night talking, laughing and sharing a few tears. We also got to witness a beautiful sunset close to midnight on the rooftop of our hotel. The team was branded “the 2:30 a.m. crew” because every time we get together we have so many stories to share we end up just laughing and talking into the wee hours of the night.
 
The bond that this team shares is incredible. It’s almost hard to put into words. When we are together, we are unstoppable, and the love just radiates. When you bring together a group of people that all have a common goal and have all been affected by the same monster, you instantly connect. I was asked, “What would your Dad think of this team?” and immediately a big smile came to my face. My dad grew up playing sports his entire life and, from coaching to playing professional baseball to transitioning into a business owner, he always kept one of his favorite mottos close to his heart : “There is no 'i' in the word team.” I know he was smiling down as he watched this amazing team conquer everything together from sore legs, to a fear of heights and the challenges of where to use the restroom. My dad was super competitive, so much so that when we did the first few 5k runs with the MMRF, he personally donated over and over again on race day to make sure that “Team Moose” came in as a top fundraising team. He would be so incredibly proud of what this Iceland team accomplished, from exceeding our fundraising goal to conquering the most challenging portion of the hike: “Cat’s Spine.”
 
It was the most rewarding feeling to reach the end of our trek knowing that the entire team was able to complete the climb. Something that really touched me was that the five patients that were hiking with us were never once treated like cancer patients, they were just like every other teammate. To watch their strength and see them kick butt the way they did was probably one of the most inspirational things that I will witness in my lifetime. At one point, I was hiking in front of my teammate Brian while he was getting interviewed, and as I tried to hide the tears behind my sunglasses I just listened and wept as he talked about everything from his family to how he keeps fighting on every day. It was so powerful. This group of people has inspired me so much!
 
I’m walking away from this amazing experience as a different person. I am taking things with me that I learned from each and every person. I have 12 new sisters and brothers, friendships that I have no doubt in my mind will be lifelong. When I signed up to participate in the MM4MM Iceland trek, I signed up to honor my dad. I signed up so that I could continue to contribute and try to make a difference, so other family members don’t have to go through losing loved ones to this horrible disease. I am leaving this trek fighting on for 12 more people that have stolen my heart. I can’t wait until our next reunion, I will be counting down the days. xx
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