We wanted to share the inspiring story of one of our users, Bianca (username: @biancavda). She is on a quest to walk a Pilgrimage in support of Think-Pink and motivated to put in the KM thanks to atlasGO. Good luck, and thanks for being a Sweaty Changemaker! Here is her story.

My Camino del Norte Pilgrimage

Tell us about your Pilgrimage Story.

Next year (2021), around May-June, I will be walking the Camino del Norte, one of Santiago de Compostela’s Spanish pilgrimage routes. My journey will begin in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, near the French-Spanish border, and end about 900 km later in Fisterra, on the West coast of Spain. I am doing this for the benefit of Think-Pink, a Belgian non-profit organization fighting against breast cancer, which by now extended all across Europe. Walking a Camino is such a creative way to support this good cause, and it is a nice personal challenge as well, which can teach you a lot about yourself, whether you are looking for something in particular or not.

a map of the camino del norte path

My Inspiration

How did this all start, what inspired you?

A few years ago, I met someone who opened my heart. Unfortunately, circumstances were such so that we separated ways. Even though we will always be a part of each other, it is hard to let go of someone with whom you had a deep connection. This person has beaten breast cancer, and throughout time, I became aware that if cancer had beaten her, I would never have had the chance to get to know her. I am very grateful that I did, and so that is why I started to support Think-Pink. Out of love and gratitude for this person and because, for a while, this was my way to feel still close to her and to do something kind for her – although indirectly.

As for the Camino, it is also a celebration of my own life. Meeting this person was the most beautiful encounter, but at the same time, I have gone through the deepest valleys. I got out an entirely different person, much stronger, much more self-aware with a lot more understanding of things like self-love, gratitude, and (self-)acceptance. This whole experience has taught me so much about myself, about the things I value the most, and about who I want to be. If you manage to be at peace with yourself, the Universe becomes a beautiful place. Along that line, I also want to inspire people to follow their own heart, fight their fears, and open up to all the beauty this world offers. It’s such a cliché, but life is far too short and therefore valuable not to live it according to your desires. A challenge such as walking a Camino is the perfect way to do just that: to open up to all of the beauty and to make contact with what is truly yours.

Biance doing a handstand on a long path in a forest as she prepares for her pilgrimage

Using atlasGO

During your training and Pilgrimage, you will be using atlasGO. Why is that?

When I first heard about atlasGO, it caught my interest immediately. I think linking sports to the support of a good cause is a great concept. However, since I’m a bit old-fashioned when it comes to technology and smartphones, I didn’t (yet!) download the app. It was somewhat later when I started training again more frequently for my Camino, that I did some better research. Suddenly I thought: “900 km – that would be a lot of trees!” and so I started using atlasGO! It really motivates you to get moving and to get outside, and it’s just so nice to be able to support a good cause in this way! Moreover, for my Camino, it’s a nice way to log my preparations and the actual pilgrimage route.

a sweaty selfie of Bianca while using atlasGO app to log her distance-based activity in support for Think-Pink

Support my Journey

How can we all support you? 

People can support me by making donations on my sponsor page from Think-Pink. A lot of small things can add up to something far bigger – as atlasGO beautifully illustrates! – so I truly appreciate every donation, no matter how small! Besides that, I will probably still come up with another fundraising idea of my own. With my previous idea – i.e., selling self-decorated candles – I collected over €700, which was just awesome! It’s amazing to get so much support from so many different people. I’m already incredibly grateful for all donations so far, but of course, every penny is welcome since breast cancer is still the most common form of cancer among women and even more so in Belgium than the rest of the world. About 1 woman out of 8 will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her life. When you come to think about that, it is actually pretty confronting. I’m happy to contribute in any way I can to improve the long, exhausting process that breast cancer patients have to go through.

a photo of Bianca

My Takeaway

Anything else you would like to share?

I have this wish about a world where tolerance, respect, and empathy would become greater values than they are today. A world focussed on giving rather than taking. It requires strength and bravery to open up and be vulnerable, but the freedom it creates for yourself and others is so worth it. Also, after being hurt, it is important to keep opening up. Even, and maybe especially, to those who find it difficult to do so themselves. Only by continuing to show the world that there is another way will we one day create the change we want to see.

Written by Bianca Vragen

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