Oct 14, 2011 • By

My train ride with Martina McBride

I arrived in New York City’s Penn Station yesterday after a four-day, cross-country trip on “The Pink Together Express.”

General Mills, through Pink Together – our breast cancer awareness program – sponsored an Amtrak train chartered by country music star Martina McBride.

Martina’s team partnered with Pink Together to promote breast cancer awareness at each of the eleven stops from Los Angeles to New York City. The trip started Monday morning.

One of Martina’s new songs on her new album is called “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” It’s about a young mother diagnosed with breast cancer and the loving support she receives from her husband. To tie in the song, the tour, and Pink Together, Amtrak wrapped four cars of the train with huge images of Martina and a pink ribbon along with the Pink Together logo.

Pink Together asked Katie Parker of Rapid City, S.D., to join Martina on the train. Katie is one of five Pink Together “Survivor Ambassadors” for 2011. Together, the Pink Together Ambassadors provide inspiration to others with their stories of courage and survival in the face of breast cancer.

(Katie Parker and Martina McBride)

Because Katie is active in the online community on Facebook, at PinkTogether.com, and her personal social media accounts, we asked her to post, blog, and tweet before and after each stop.

Katie did a great job raising awareness and encouraging people to visit the community of hope and support at PinkTogether.com.

For me, spending time with Martina McBride was certainly a lot of fun, but meeting her fans and breast cancer survivors along the way is what I’ll remember most.

At almost every one of the eleven stops, a local breast cancer survivor shared her story with Martina’s fans who came to greet the train. It was also really wonderful to hear Martina encouraging women to get mammograms and to share their stories at PinkTogether.com.

As for spending four days on an Amtrak train … well, let’s just say the quarters were tight.

You can see that in this video, along with some great highlights of Martina from the trip.

I had a “roomette” that was less than half the size of my office cubicle, and there was only one very small shower for a dozen people in my sleeping car. But the close quarters did encourage camaraderie, and I had fun hanging out with folks “in the music biz.”

We were on an exhausting schedule.

On the first day, for example, I had to wake up at 3:45 a.m. in Los Angeles, and I didn’t get to sleep until after 4 a.m. the next day. But that was also the day we rolled into Albuquerque, N.M., to find hundreds of Martina’s fans waiting in the cold for the train to arrive.

They found that the wait was more than worth it when Martina did a seven-song mini-concert for them – at around 1:30 a.m. The train with the pink ribbon was the background for the performance, and Martina did one of the first live performances of “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.”

It was really a magical moment that I’ll never forget.

The trip was an incredible opportunity to partner with Martina to spread a message of hope and support to everyone affected by breast cancer.

Editor’s Note: You can see Eric in this photo, courtesy of Amtrak, presenting a check to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Pink Together contributed $1,000 to each of the local Komen Affiliates along Martina McBride’s tour. This is in addition to its $2 million national donation to the organization. Check out Martina McBride’s YouTube channel for more videos from the Pink Together Express, and there are some more photos on Amtrak’s Facebook page.