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All the young women just began their senior year at River Falls High School. Left to right at the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture: Kaitlin Warneke, Erin Grimley, Kate Bosworth, Santanna Cowan, Erin Pomeroy, Rachel Trudesill, Nara Tashjian, Abby Andrle, Caitlin McAleavey and Lauren Anderson. Adults not pictured but who participated: John Warneke, Missy Nordin, Lisa Andrle, Chris Kelly-Stewart, Lisa Frank and Rose Ross.

Hope fuels walkers 60 miles

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Though their blisters still fester, the 10 young women who walked the Twin Cities Breast Cancer 3 Day Aug. 21-23 talk excitedly about their experience trekking 60 miles to raise money and honor their lost loved one.

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The team participated to honor their friend Kaitlin's late mother, Kim Warneke, who battled cancer two different times and set an example through her participation in River Falls Relay for Life, the Ellsworth cancer walk and similar events.

And Warneke never gave up hope. The 3 Day was something she and daughter Kaitlin had talked about doing together.

In her memory, the youngest team to participate in the 3 Day wore T-shirts bearing the phrase, "Once you choose hope, anything is possible."

The two handfuls of River Falls high school seniors said they didn't train for the 60-mile walk but probably should have.

They started walking around 7 a.m. each day and stopped at 5 p.m. The group of 16 locals have so far raised about $39,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. People can continue donating online until Sept. 23 at www.the3day.org. Click "donate," select "find a participant," enter the team name, Hope in Our Hearts- Kim, or participant's name, Kaitlin Warneke.

The girls each paid a $90 registration fee that included food and camping. Each walker had to raise a minimum of $2,300 to participate, paid up front.

The group says they definitely recommend the experience to others. They also offer up the three lessons they found most important: 1) Start fundraising early, 2) Train for the walk, 3) Wear good shoes and break them in before the event.

Read more on this story in the Sept. 10 print edition of the River Falls Journal.

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