Building Connections: The 3-Day Coaches’ Favorite Moments from 2013, Part 1

They talk to you on the phone, reply to your emails, conduct informational meetings and workshops, and support the participants on each event. They are the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® coaches, and their job is to help people fundraise, train for and learn more about the Komen 3-Day. As a former 3-Day® coach myself for 4 years, I can attest to what a gift it was to work at a job that is a daily source of inspiration. The 3-Day family is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of the power of goodness at work in the world, and that goodness comes from our awesome walkers and crew members.

I went to my fellow coaches and asked about their favorite memories and moments from the 2013 3-Day season. From inspiring conversations, to overcoming challenges, to shared triumphs, the coaches have seen it all. Today and for the next few 3-Day blog posts, I’ll be sharing some of those moments with you.


Philadelphia coach Lisa Stephens was particularly touched by one family’s journey together. “I met Brad T. and two of his children at a Get Started Meeting. Brad had lost his wife, and the kids had lost their mom, just a year earlier and they were still struggling emotionally and mentally with the hole that it left in their family.  What I loved about my first encounter with them was the support and love they had for each other.  They promised to train together, fundraise together and to walk the 3-Day in honor of this amazing woman.  I saw them many times on event, hugged them every time and even met the third child, who joined the 3-Day as part of the Young Women Walking.  So often we hear of how helpless a family member feels when a loved one is fighting cancer, and this event offers people the ability to not feel so helpless…to take action and stand together in this fight.  Seeing them all weekend, I know I will see them back in 2014.”

Thayer family

Brad and his children walked in memory of the wife and mom they lost last year.


Another one of our Dallas/Fort Worth coaches, Lauren Lueders, had a conversation with a San Diego walker a few weeks before the event which moved her in a personal way. “It’s only fitting that one of my favorite moments of 2013 includes our very beloved Bridget Spence. I was talking to Patti A., a San Diego walker, and I congratulated her on her fundraising. She had raised $3,000, and she went on to tell me the story of her last donation to get her to $3,000. She was on a training walk and mentioned that she was only $29 shy of the $3,000 mark. When she arrived home there was a donation on her page that simply read ‘In Memory of Bridget Spence.’” Bridget, a former 3-Day coach and walker, passed away in April after an eight-year battle with breast cancer. She was 29 years old, and after she died, the 3-Day community took it upon themselves to initiate a trend of making $29 donations to fellow walkers, often anonymously, with the simple message, “In Memory of Bridget.” Lauren continues, “As I talked with Patti, she shared all of the wonderful things she had heard about Bridget, and the $29 grassroots fundraising efforts in memory of Bridget. It was a perfect reminder of the spirit of the 3-Day family.”


Earlier in the year, Gayla Cruikshank replied to an email that simply asked for some info about cheering stations, but that email began a poignant conversation between her and first-time Dallas/Fort Worth walker Thomas R. “I asked Thomas about his reason for walking and he told me that his mom died from breast cancer 35 years ago, when he was only 15 years old.  He has been looking for some way to honor her memory for decades. When his friend told him about the 3-Day, he just KNEW this was exactly what he’d been looking for.  He said he gets choked up talking about it and the experience he had, and it put a lump in my throat as well.  I knew exactly how he was feeling from the experience he had on the 3-Day.He said being a guy on the event was very intimidating, but at the end of day 1, he knew he was hooked. He’s already signed up for 2014 and is ready to help me at some Get Started Meetings and social gatherings so we can share what the 3-Day community has done for us.”

Thomas Riggs

Thomas and friends on Day 3

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5 Qualities of 3-Day Friendship

As a 3-Day coach in Washington, D.C., Shawn Supers has met hundreds of 3-Day participants each year who tell her they are looking to meet new people. Some have just relocated, others are recently separated or divorced. Many hope that participating in a cause-related fundraising event like the 3-Day will help them meet good-hearted, like-minded people.

Day 3

Friendly 3-Day smiles at the 2013 Michigan 3-Day.

Well, according to the State of Friendship Report, they have come to the right place! Women and men both look for these top five qualities in a friendship: loyalty, decency, dependable in a crisis, likes me and is fun to be with. And those five qualities describe nearly every participant that I’ve met while working on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.

  • Loyalty Whether loyal to a family member or friend who is struggling with the disease, or to the breast cancer cause, 3-Day participants are committed.
  • Decency What could be more decent than committing to walking 60 miles and fundraising to save the lives of others?
  • Dependability “We will never give up” is the 3-Day motto. We haven’t and we won’t.
  • Fun Where else can you see grown men in tutus on motorcycles to “save second base?”
  • Like What’s not to like about someone who will throw their heart (and soles) into the goal of eradicating breast cancer and have fun doing it?
Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Sharing the 2013 Chicago 3-Day

Have you made any new friends on the 3-Day?  Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Goose Bump Moments

I asked our 3-Day coaches, as well as some of the 3-Day participants I’ve interviewed for this blog, to share a special memory – a goose bump moment – which they cherish. Their responses illustrate the “magic” that is the 3-Day.

Jane R. “One of my favorite 3-Day goose bump moments is being a part of the human chute that walkers form at the end of the 3-Day to welcome those reaching the finish line later in the day.” Veteran walkers – I’m sure you know the magic she’s talking about. First-timers – just wait! You’re in for a beautiful surprise.

Chicago 3-Day participants celebrate their final steps while others cheer them on.

Chicago 3-Day participants celebrate their final steps while others cheer them on.

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