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Halloween Scene 2000: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid


 VOL.24 NO. 23
November 16 - 29, 2000


Very Scary Party Animals Haunt Froggy's!




Boo-Ster Club Carnival Crazies Escape!


For the whole story, see the current newsstand edition of the Messenger.


Behind the Sneakers at the Cancer Walk


By Lyn Henley

I can't remember the last time I was as cold, as tired, or as happy as at the end of the AVON Breast Cancer 3-Day walk. Over the Halloween weekend, I joined an army of over 3,000 people and walked 60 miles from Santa Barbara to Malibu, raising 6.6 million dollars for the fight against breast cancer.


 With friends, Patti and Jolene, I drop off gear with the crew and gather with the other walkers in the pre-dawn darkness, complaining about the steady drizzle. I compliment one woman on her funny hat decorated with fake breasts. She responds good-naturedly, "Thanks. I lost both my breasts to breast cancer last year. These are my replacements!" She is Colleen Schaffer one of 300 breast cancer survivors that are walking with us.

During the inspirational opening ceremonies, we hear about one of our fellow walkers, Lori. Another survivor, she made it her New Year's resolution to walk in the 3-Day. During training, she discovered that the cancer had come back. She was weakened but still determined to walk. On August 9th, she E-mailed her walker coach saying, "I don't know if I will be able to walk very far on the 3-day. Is it OK if I only walk a few miles?" But, on a Sunday morning in September, Lori died. She was only 31 years old. Dan asks for a moment of silence, even though no one is talking.

Thousands of us stand quietly, crying openly over a woman we've never met, but who was one of us, and who is gone. Dan goes on, "So when you're out there walking and it's raining, just remember how much Lori would have loved to walk in the rain." Then, the sun bursts miraculously through the cloud cover, golden seagulls wheel overhead, and I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for being alive. The gates open, and the walk begins.

DAY 1:

We are a river of people. The energy is unbelievable. Well-wishers line the streets with signs and balloons. Kids slap us five. Drivers honk and holler as they pass. This will continue, uninterrupted, for three days, rain or shine, and we will never tire of it.

The rain clears up and we soon get into the rhythm of the 3-Day. We learn to snatch drinks and snacks with hardly a break in stride. The crew is amazing, sporting wacky costumes at every stop, blasting upbeat music.

Before we know it, we're at camp, surrounded by suburban women learning how to pitch a tent for the first time. All that lady-like behavior is slipping away like our last Good Hair Day. We eat like animals, snore like men, and rise to walk again.

DAY 2:

Blisters are worsening, aggravated by yesterday's wet feet. Jolene lags behind, and, by the time we reach camp, she doesn't think she'll be able finish Day 3. My knee, that used to ache during training in Topanga, is finally starting to give out. I get it taped up by a guy dressed like a M.A.S.H. doctor. He assures me that he's actually a licensed gardener.

I'm in my sleeping bag by 8:30 p.m., laughing that I'd ever even considered sneaking out to Froggy's Halloween party. All I care about now is finishing the walk by tomorrow's 3:00 p.m. cut-off time. Patti and I argue about when to wake up. We'll need to break camp, eat, and get all of our blisters popped and bandaged before the 6:00 a.m. start time. We settle for 4:30 a.m.

DAY 3:

I wake Patti up at 4:00 a.m., anyway, feigning confusion about the time change.

Jolene is fortified by a good night's sleep and determined to finish the walk. She helps us sneak to the front of the line. We bolt from the gate around 6:00 a.m. Jolene takes the lead of our threesome, and holds it, walking fast, all day long.

I find myself walking next to Colleen again. For three days now, she has worn the same hat. Everyone we pass comments on it, so she's been obliged to tell her story to strangers hundreds of times each day. When I admire her courage, she replies, "I don't want anyone else to have to go through what I went through." She adds that none of the public health programs cover treatment for the under-privileged. I'm shocked, but glad that a big chunk of our fundraising will go to these women.

It starts to rain, and we make the awful mistake of getting damp before we actually put on our ponchos. We won't be warm again for 10 hours. We are walking into a strong wind as we round Point Magu. In spite of windbreakers, ponchos, and finally trash bags, we're still cold. By lunchtime, women that were Amazons until now are dazed with hypothermia.

We help one another tie on sheets of mylar. Jolene changes moleskin bandages in the Porta Potty (the only dry place left). We eat as fast as we can and keep walking, trying to get warm. By the time we hit the big hill at Leo Carillo Beach that we'd been dreading, we're grateful for the extra exertion that stops our shivering for a few minutes.

We fall into a kind of trance, one step following another, heads bowed down to keep out the wind and rain, staring at the feet ahead of us. Suddenly, we come over the last hill and it's over. We made it. A sea of umbrellas spreads out over Zuma Beach. Beaus clutch bouquets of wet flowers, scanning our sea of mylar-shrouded faces for their sweethearts. We walk through a long corridor of clapping, cheering people. The stands are packed to overflowing, even in the steady rain. The survivors walk to the front of the pack, and we all applaud them and the hope they represent. We pause again to remember the dead, and as we do, the rain pours down in torrents. The whole sky is crying with us.

As we walk away, the adrenaline ripping away from us like our torn sheets of Mylar, we are left with a simple sense of comfort and peace that life carries on one way or another, and that the human spirit can accomplish almost anything, even in the freezing cold and pouring rain.
Thanks, Topangans, for your generous support of the 3-Day.


Soccer to Me!

By Hayley Safonov

If you've been hearing a sustained "Goal" bellowing from the Community House ball field it must be coming from the Friday night soccer games.

Soccer has become the hot sport at the community house ball field. On Fridays over the last month the best 10 players of the Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night "pick-up" team have been playing the "Topangans," an organized team (wearing uniforms) who play in a Pasadena league. Out of the four games played, the "Topangans" won one game, the "pick-up" team won one game, and there were two ties.

These high-spirited games started when the Topangans invited the pickup soccer players to play. The pick-up players are the community gathered soccer players that play every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 5:30 until dark. There is a wide range of players form people who played in college soccer to five-year-olds who are just starting to play the game. I never played soccer until Liam Gunst (the varsity goalie for the Palisades High School soccer team) introduced me to these people.

If you are interested in getting involved, there are three different ways. One way is by joining us, in cleats (hopefully) on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Or you can come and cheer on the players on Friday evenings. Or you can send a much-appreciated tax-deductible donation to the Topanga Community Woman's Club, PO Box 652, Topanga 90290 to help keep the ball field flat and green.


Topanga Kids Protest Ahmanson Ranch

By Leila Moskowitz
and Vivian Poutakoglou

Vivian Poutakoglou's pupils of last year's fifth grade class experienced a lesson in civics and social skills that they will never forget. On November 5, 2000 Topanga Elementary graduates got together for a potluck picnic in Topanga State Park. They celebrated the long awaited responses received from Washington Mutual. Ms. Poutakoglou's class wrote letters to Washington Mutual about their role as the corporate developer of Ahmanson Ranch. The Ahmanson Ranch development involves 5500 acres of land located in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Last spring Topanga Elementary students were sent home with packets about Washington Mutual. These brochures explained that students would be able to open Washington Mutual accounts and maintain their accounts by accessing them at the Elementary School through a Washington Mutual representative. Many of Topanga Canyon Elementary students (and their parents) were aware that Washington Mutual is the developer of Ahmanson Ranch, which led to discussions and ultimately a research project for the fifth grade class of Ms. Poutakoglou. Twenty-six students chose to write to Washington Mutual with their opinions about the Ahmanson Ranch development.

The Ahmanson Ranch is west of Woodland Hills and north of Calabasas. The development proposal involves eight years of grading, two golf courses, and 3050 new homes. The fifth graders were particularly moved by the plight of the following three endangered species: the Bell's Vireo bird (Vireo bellii), the Red-Legged Frog (Rana aurora draytonii) and the San Fernando Spineflower, all of which are put to risk by the Ahmanson Ranch development.

The students wrote letters about saving Ahmanson Ranch from development as a way to share their feelings and thoughts about environmental issues that they felt strongly about. It was also their attempt to better understand large corporations' responsibilities to them and the world. Ms. Poutakoglou sent their letters to Washington Mutual's VP of Public Relations, as well as Washington Mutual's President and the local Topanga Elementary representative. This is a sample of the quality of letter the students sent.

Dear Mr. McGarry,

I think you should not build on Ahmanson Ranch. There are lots and lots of animals there. So if you build you might hurt or kill ALL animals. Also, people like the scenery there.
On Ahmanson Ranch there are three endangered species: two types of animals and one type of plant. The two animals that are endangered are the Red-Legged Frog and the Bell Vireo bird which live in the willow scrub. The endangered plant (once thought to be extinct) called the San Fernando Valley Spineflower lives there too. If you build here all of these species will be extinct and many animals will be killed, or forced from their homes.
I think instead of building houses and stuff you should build a state park. If you do that people AND animals can enjoy the land not to mention that ALL of the endangered species will be happy.
Thank you for listening.


- Matthew Browne

On September 30 responses from Washington Mutual were hand delivered to the homes of the twenty-six students who wrote letters. The fact that Washington Mutual responded demonstrates to the students that their environmental and moral opinions were listened to. Each recipient received a meticulously written letter (3-4 pages) by Tim McGarry, Vice President of Public Relations at Washington Mutual. Also, delivered in a separate package was a gift, a yellow glazed flowerpot with a bag of dirt and a packet of daisy seeds.
We would like to praise and honor the class for their student initiated letter writing project to Washington Mutual.



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