“What a Weekend” on the Seattle 3-Day!

“Let yourself be present, every step of the way!” boomed Dr. Sheri’s voice into the early morning around the Seattle Center. “We’re ready!” answered the crowd of 1,100 Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day walkers and over 300 crew members and volunteers. The emotional Opening Ceremony with breast cancer survivors and those who helped family and friends with the disease wrapped up with the sun rising over the Space Needle and a flood of pink-clad participants ready to begin a three-day, 60-mile walk that would end in raising $3 million to help find a cure for breast cancer.

Besides the Seattle Seahawks drumline and the crowd of cheerleaders, the Seattle Police Department had gone all out, decorating their bicycles with pink ribbons, pink tires, and pink flags. (They also provided safety over all three days, along with some extraordinary dance moves throughout the weekend.) The walk through the city via 5th Avenue was brisk and exciting, albeit a bit slow for some who found the window shopping somewhat distracting! The pit stops before and on Mercer Island had great views, as did the walk along the I-90 bridge. Spirits were high through the comfortable weather on Friday on the 22.9-mile route to camp at Marymoor Park.

After some local entertainment and dinner, tributes were paid to the top fundraisers and a special award, the Milestone Award, was given to Loretta Englishbee, for her dedication to the breast cancer cause and her influence on so many people, both in fundraising and in emotional and physical support of the 3-Day®. Thank you Loretta! She has raised over $303,000 over an eight year period and has helped so many more in reaching their personal goals on the 3-Day. Survivor Carol S kindly shared her experiences with breast cancer, a humbling and touching speech.

After surviving some overnight rain, the camp arose early for breakfast before continuing the journey at 7 a.m. back onto the streets of Redmond and into Pit Stop 1, with its gorgeous views of Lake Washington. The hills brought the challenges on Saturday’s 20.9-mile route, but the local crowds and businesses that came out to cheer on the participants very much helped the day.  Again, there was great weather to walk in for Seattle with partly cloudy skies and some excellent sunshine! Those at the Camp Show were treated to the stories of co-survivor Dawn R and the young survivor Mandy C. What inspirations! Presenting sponsor Bank of America entertained with its famous money cube game and sponsor New Balance bestowed some lucky walkers with shoes and swag.

For being in Seattle, the 2013 Seattle 3-Day was more than blessed with some excellent walking weather. Sunday, and the last 16.3 miles of the journey came with some rain.  After some sprinkles through the scenic GasWorks Park, showers began as the walkers moved through the Ballard Locks and down the final stretches back to the Seattle Center. But, nothing stops the 3-Day walkers! With ponchos, plastic, and foil wraps, the wearied group entered the Seattle Center hands held high in victory over the elements and physical trial. As family and friends gathered to congratulate the walkers, the weather improved for the Closing Ceremony, where stalwart crew members and participants entered Memorial Stadium and the celebration of such wonderful accomplishments. The Survivors Circle gathered to raise the flag “We Will Never Give Up” amid the cheers of the gathered crowd. Thank you Seattle! Looking forward to 2014!

What were your favorites memories from the weekend?

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Seattle’s Pink Kilt

William K from Redmond, Washington, awaits the Opening Ceremony at the 2013 Seattle 3-Day

William K from Redmond, Washington, awaits the Opening Ceremony at the 2013 Seattle 3-Day

“Everyone recognizes the Backpack Guy,” mentions a pink-clad walker in the darkness of the Seattle Center. “He’s been doing this forever, and we even saw him in Tampa Bay last year!” The pink boas, the tutus, the extraordinary amount of pink necklaces that would make a rapper proud are the norm out here on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. It’s usually also safe to say that most participants are either directly or indirectly affected by breast cancer, and it is common to find man cancer survivors and even those in treatment out braving the elements and pushing their physical limits for the cause.

William K from Redmond, Washington, had no ties.

William K greets Susan G. Komen walkers on Day 1 of the Seattle 3-Day

William K greets walkers on Day 1 of the Seattle 3-Day

In his 9th year of walking the Seattle 3-Day, he has donned a pink kilt (a ‘Utilikit’), some seriously sturdy leather boots, and an unmistakeable backpack.  Not a small bag on his back or a fanny pack, mind you, but a full backpacking-style backpack. “It slows me down,” William mentioned in the pink light of the Opening Ceremony, with the Space Needle in the background. That and the large wrist weights that look like a superhero’s outfit. “Oh yes, the wrist weights,” adds William, noticing that I am staring at them. “They really help make your hands feel better.” That would make sense, since a lot of walkers notice the swollen hands that develop from swinging back and forth for 60 miles. After a good look at him, he appears something like a Scottish soldier with a serious penchant for pink. The overwhelmingly female crowd loves him, though, and he has become a staple to the annual event in Seattle.

William K in his pink kilt strides through the Ballard locks on his way to the Seattle Center and Closing Ceremony

William K in his pink kilt strides through the Ballard locks on his way to the Seattle Center and Closing Ceremony

“I’m a systems engineer in Redmond, but when I started, I had no connection to breast cancer. It was just a lot of fun,” says William between ‘hellos’ to people who recognize him as they pass. “Since I started though, I’ve had my mom and a sister diagnosed with breast cancer, so now it’s become very relevant.”

As a male with no initial connection to breast cancer, William still encourages other men and women to become involved, even if they don’t know someone directly. “I never worried about wearing the pink of the 3-Day, and it’s really easy to get involved! I would advise people to stand out, have fun, and make a strong statement!” Go William! He and 1,100 walkers and 300 crew members will wrap up the 60-mile route today that has raised $2.9 million to help end breast cancer!

William K awaits with Komen 3-Day® walkers at the beginning of the route on Day 2 of the Seattle 3-Day

William K awaits with Komen 3-Day® walkers at the beginning of the route on Day 2 of the Seattle 3-Day

William K embraces a fellow walker on the 2013 Seattle 3-Day

William K embraces a fellow walker on the 2013 Seattle 3-Day

Tractors, Pirates, and Breast Cancer

If you happen to be in Seattle this weekend and see a pink tractor being driven by a pirate, not to worry. These things seem to happen on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. David and Wendy N from Snohomish, Washington, have had many experiences that have led them to raise awareness for breast cancer in this piratey, pink way. Wendy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, beginning her tradition of walking the 60-mile route in 2006 with her best friend. David had a close call with his own “lumps and bumps,” and was, in fact, the reason he had originally met Wendy over the phone, over his own health concerns. Their common friends had led them together first over the phone, and then in person on the night before Halloween, where they had their first date…as pirates.

David and Wendy N support the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day walkers in their pirate regalia

David and Wendy N support the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day walkers in their pirate regalia

David started by walking the 60-mile walking route as well, an annual celebration to raise funds for breast cancer research and a physical challenge for anyone wanting to participate. “We decided that we would get married at the end of Day 2 on the event in 2009,” explained David. “We were married in our pirate outfits.” Of course they were, and it happened in a sea of pink-clad walkers who were more than happy to celebrate the joining of two strong people. (You can see the full ceremony on YouTube, under “Seattle Breast Cancer Pirate Wedding.”) The ceremony was officiated by none other tha, Barry Long, the host of the Halloween party of their first date and a man who happens to own the world’s record for the highest bungee jump in a wheelchair from a helicopter (and from a fixed structure).

David's pink tractor, "Pinkie Pearl," flies the pink pirate flag and even has its own Facebook page

David’s pink tractor, “Pinkie Pearl,” flies the pink pirate flag and even has its own Facebook page

But why “Pinkie Pearl,” the pink pirate tractor that David is commanding this weekend? “Well, I grew up on a dairy farm,” said David, “and I always wanted an antique tractor. A dairyman wanted to sell one for $500. I gave him $300 and then had to tell Wendy that we owned a tractor that didn’t run.” They wasted no time in painting it the traditional pink of the breast cancer cause and began a crusade to help people understand that they need to have regular checkups at the doctor and get screening. Wendy’s case was unique. “I had a co-worker friend who urged me to go get a mammogram,” said Wendy. “I had a lump on my left breast which turned out to be nothing, but I had cancer on my right breast and there was no lump! She may have saved my life, and now I am a seven-year survivor!” Their mission as pink pirates on tractors is clear: “We are here to raise awareness!”

"Pinkie Pearl" waits patiently on the Seattle 3-Day to raise more awareness about breast cancer

“Pinkie Pearl” waits patiently on the Seattle 3-Day to raise more awareness about breast cancer

The antique tractor "Pinkie Pearl" dons the pink of the breast cancer awareness cause

The antique tractor “Pinkie Pearl” dons the pink of the breast cancer awareness cause