The 2014 Susan G. Komen Atlanta 3-Day Wrap Up

Congratulations, Atlanta – you did it! You rocked the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® this past weekend.

Day 1_OpeningWe kicked things off in Stone Mountain Park early Friday morning. Although it was chilly, we knew the day would be beautiful and we enjoyed an inspiring Opening Ceremony. We heard some really touching stories from our fellow participants and were uplifted with a special tribute sung by two incredible local artists. Dr. Sheri and our eight members of the survivors’ circle led us out onto the route, where we enjoyed views of the beautiful park and the lovely, clean scent of pine. It really felt like autumn was upon us!

Soon after we refueled at Pit Stop 1, we came into an energetic cheering station set up along Main Street of Stone Mountain Village. Friends and family came out in droves to cheer us on and give us a little pep in our step. We rocked and rolled to some great 80’s beats at Pit Stop 2 and snacked on string cheese and grahamwiches. At Lunch, we took some time to change socks, attend to any hot spots that were popping up on our feet, and were entertained by a DJ playing some great music. As we came into the home stretch of Day 1, we were greeted with picturesque views of the Atlanta city skyline, and at mile 21.4, we reached our indoor(!) campsite for the weekend at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Day 1_RouteWe snapped photos of the 20-mile banner, made up some trail mix snacks in the 3-Day Lounge, rested our weary feet in the massage chairs at the Bank of America tent and picked up Instagram #laceup365 photos at the New Balance tent. And we enjoyed the delicious and decadent mac & cheese for dinner – on National Pasta Day, no less! During the Friday night camp show, we recognized some our top performers of 2014, including the Atlanta top fundraisers and our Milestone Award Winner, Mary Anne W.

Day 2 started out as bright and crisp as the day before, and we quickly made our way to Pit Stop 1 in Midtown West: The Wild Wild Breasts of Atlanta! We tackled a huge hill before coming into Pit Stop 2, and then kept walking uphill the rest of the day (or at least it felt like it!). The mansions of Atlanta offered a gorgeous backdrop to the route and we wound through some very beautiful neighborhoods. The police were back out again to keep us safe and like always, they were so nice! At Pit Stop 4, the Ford Warriors in Pink paid us a visit and offered pink temporary tattoos, great photo ops, and free scarves.

Day 2_RouteBack at the GWCC, we enjoyed an evening with friends and family, sharing our stories from the route and showing them our home-away-from-home for the weekend. During the Saturday night camp show, we heard some really inspiring stories, including one from a young survivor, Julie B. And in typical 3-Day style, we danced the night away at the 3-Day Dance Party. Isn’t it amazing how good it feels to dance, even after 41.7 miles?!

Day 3_RouteAs we packed up our gear and folded up our tents on the morning of Day 3, we knew it was going to be a beautiful day; we had the anticipation of the Closing Ceremony to help carry us through the final 15.3 miles. Piedmont Park was a gorgeous setting for Grab & Go A and the picture-perfect weather didn’t hurt, either. We didn’t have to wait long to come upon a cheering station this morning; spectators were set up at John Howell Park and were handing out delicious goodies and clapping like crazy. As we made our way into the lunch stop at Paideia School, DJ Ross N. was rocking the tunes for the third day in a row, to give us something to jam to. The crew there made sure we knew we were in the final stretch of the weekend – just 5.3 more miles to go!

HoldingThose final miles went by quickly and we walked into Turner Field, cheered on by our loved ones and fellow walkers and crew members. There was quite a reception for the last walkers on Day 3 – it seemed like the smiling faces, cheers and high-fives stretched for miles! As we lined up to walk into the Closing Ceremony and be reunited with our families and friends again, we felt the butterflies of anticipation. Walking that final “victory lap” over to the stage is always emotional and we felt the weight of all 60 miles, the memories of those we’ve lost, and the tributes and stories of those we honor and celebrate.

ClosingAs the weekend drew to a close, we learned that with 1,100 walkers and 300 crew members, we had raised more than $3.2 million dollars in the fight against breast cancer. We will never give up!

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Julie’s Angels

There’s a tradition at the 3-Day: every Friday and Saturday night, one of our amazing survivors stands on stage and shares her story with a captive audience. Without a doubt, there will be tears. Sometimes there is laughter. And there’s always thunderous applause at the end. This Saturday night in Atlanta was no exception.

IMG_9907At only 36 years of age, Julie B. is one of our young survivors. She bravely took the stage and shared the details of her recent and ongoing battle.

In March 2013, Julie gave birth to her son, Harris. Because her mother and maternal grandmother had both fought and survived breast cancer years ago, and her mother was recently re-diagnosed, Julie was already planning to have a mammogram after she delivered Harris. “They say that if it runs in your family, you should have one in your 30’s.”

But Julie didn’t even have a chance to schedule that mammogram. Just one week after Harris was born, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “It was a surreal moment when I got the call. I was in a state of shock when I heard the news,” recounts Julie. Her mother, who was still recovering from her own recent breast cancer reconstruction surgery, was there when Julie heard the news. “She assured me that everything was going to be okay. Her positive outlook kept me strong.”

Throughout 2013, Julie endured four months of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and 28 rounds of radiation. Her grandmother, a breast cancer survivor for decades, also received a second diagnosis last year. Sadly, she lost her battle in October 2013. She was in her 90’s.

By the end of last year and all of the surgeries and treatments, Julie and her doctors felt confident that they got it all. The radiation had been done only as a safety measure, to ensure there were no lingering microscopic cancer cells. But she still insisted on a PET scan, to confirm that she was cancer-free.

Though she didn’t yet have the results of her PET scan, Julie shared with her women’s group from church that as a New Year’s resolution, she had set her mind to walking the 3-Day in 2014. Being one of three generations of women in her family who had received a breast cancer diagnosis within an 11-month span, Julie knew she wanted to take action to end breast cancer. This was the action she could take; this was something she could do. And as great friends do, her women’s group quickly jumped on board and agreed to do all 60 miles with her.

Just days later, Julie received the call from her doctor with the results: there were new areas of concern. “It absolutely crushed my heart and my spirit. I felt like we had just finished a long marathon and now we were faced with another one with no break in between,” she says, choking back tears.

But in early 2014, feeling loved, protected and like she had angels all around her, Julie and her friends and family (including her mom) formed Team Julie’s Angels. “They all decided to sign up. They’re walking in my honor. I couldn’t not walk with them.”

photo 15_teamAll 16 team members are first-time 3-Day walkers and together, they’ve raised nearly $60,000. “It is a great cause to support,” encourages Julie. “The fundraising really comes so much easier than you would ever imagine. There are so many people who have a connection – it might not be something you’re aware of – but people are really touched by it. And they’ll give more than you think they will.”

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“I have gotten more out of this walk than I ever could have imagined. It has been a positive light in my life as I am continuing my breast cancer journey,” continues Julie. “After experiencing cancer myself, I knew that I wanted to make a difference for other women, especially my daughter. I don’t want Addie Bliss to have to go through this.”

To a captive audience of hundreds at the 3-Day campsite, Julie concludes her story, “I’m Julie, and I walk because I believe everyone deserves a lifetime.” And the crowd reacts with the only appropriate response: thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

Congratulations to the Atlanta 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, Mary Anne W.!

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Please join us in congratulating Mary Anne W., the Susan G. Komen Atlanta 3-Day Milestone Award Winner! This is Mary Anne’s 12th year with the Komen 3-Day, and her 12th event. She has raised a lifetime total of a staggering $74,900, and is the Team Captain of the Breast Defense League. Mary Anne first got involved with the 3-Day in 1998, when a co-worker challenged her to participate. “I had no idea what I was getting into,” Mary Anne laughed. Mary Anne has been participating in the 3-Day since 1998, when it was in Santa Barbara. She’s walked all over the country, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Like so many others who are involved with the 3-Day, Mary Anne calls the 3-Day a “life-changing experience”. Over the years, she has met so many walkers and made friends from all walks of life. Her 3-Day friends are above and beyond other friendships in her life, a belief we find that is shared among all members of the 3-Day.

Please join us in thanking Mary Anne for her dedicated service to the 3-Day, and for helping us continue the fight in a world without breast cancer. We will never give up!