A Piglet Princess Makes Her 3-Day Debut

There’s a group of people on every Susan G. Komen 3-Day® event that you can’t help but notice. It might be their loud, enthusiastic cheering, their impressive helpfulness around pit stops and in camp, or their unmistakable yellow shirts. No matter how the Komen 3-Day Youth Corps kids come to your attention, one thing is certain: they’re a remarkable group of young people.

Last month at the Twin Cities 3-Day, I was excited to see these 10-16 year-old kids out again, as they are always a bright spot on each day, but there was one Youth Corps member in particular whom I simply had to talk to.

Madelynne is a soft-spoken girl from Wisconsin. At 11 years old, she’s one of the younger Youth Corps kids and she seemed a little apprehensive when she was asked if she would mind talking to me for the 3-Day blog (in fact, I had to explain to her what a blog is).

This was Madelynne’s first year on the Youth Corps, but like most Youth Corps kids, her connection with breast cancer goes back longer than any child should have to experience. She has had several family members who have had the disease, including her grandmother who was a 32-year survivor when she passed away a few years ago.Susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog twin cities crew youth corps mullet pig

And like most Youth Corps kids, the 3-Day has been a part of Madelynne’s own family history for many years too. Her dad has been a participant for most of her life. She said she doesn’t remember him first getting involved with the 3-Day (he’s been crewing since 2008, with one year of walking; all of his events have been in the Twin Cities, plus one year on the crew in San Francisco) but she knows that he’s kind of a celebrity on the Twin Cities 3-Day.

“Because he’s who?” I asked her. She smiled. “Mullet Pig.

Oh yes, Mullet Pig. You would be hard-pressed to find a Twin Cities 3-Day veteran who doesn’t know this icon of the Route Safety team. He’s out here on his bike, year after year, dressed in all kinds of wacky attire, right down to his signature piggy mask and pink lipstick. I asked Madelynne what she thought of that. Her response was what you’d expect from any daughter whose dad sports a pink tutu and an over-the-shirt bra adorned with stick-on googly eyes: “It’s embarrassing.”

But this is the 3-Day and anything goes out here, fashion-wise. I asked her if she thinks it’s cool at all, or is it just embarrassing, to which she promptly replied, “Yeah, it’s cool too.”

A little bit later in the day, I caught up with Mullet Pig (whose name is Dave on the other 362 days of the year) and shared with him some of my conversation with his little girl.

“She’s quiet,” I said to him. “She is quiet,” he agreed. “She’s very quiet at first, but once she gets comfortable, she starts coming out of her shell. I’ve seen it already, just from Thursday to today [Saturday].” Knowing what a larger-than-life presence Mullet Pig is on the Twin Cities 3-Day, I told him I was surprised at how introverted Madelynne seemed to be, by comparison. He replied, “As we were getting ready for the 3-Day, we were talking. And she knows all about Mullet Pig, and she loves that Dad’s Mullet Pig, but I could sense that she was kind of getting a little nervous. I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ and she said, ‘I don’t know if I can be like you.’ And I said, ‘You know what? That’s okay. Madelynne, you can be Madelynne if you want to be at the 3-Day, you can be Princess Mullet Pig [the “family” nickname she’s had for years], or you can be anywhere in between. So she’s a little bit in between, I think. And that’s okay. I want to give her the freedom and the support to be her own person. She doesn’t have to be who I am.”570 susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles crew twin cities mullet pig youth corps

It was a real pleasure for me to talk to Dave about his daughter. I have kids too, and I know that it’s a special gift when a parent gets to hear the things their kids have said when they weren’t around. I told Dave what Madelynne said when I asked her what she thinks about what her dad does. Not necessarily how he looks, but what he does out here. Her response was: “He makes sure it’s safe. And he cheers the walkers up.” After being on her feet for a day and a half, Madelynne had admitted to me she was tired and knew that the walkers must be that much more tired. But she said she knows that her dad is really, really good at cheering people up.

Dave smiled at hearing that. “If I can bring smiles to people’s faces, that’s what I do. And if I can pass that on to Madelynne… I hear about it. I hear she’s doing her job. I hear, ‘Oh, Princess Mullet Pig was so cute! We loved her cheers!’ then that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about me, or Mullet Pig, or Mulletude, it’s about inspiring. That’s what it’s all about.”

Separately, I asked Madelynne and Dave to tell me one word that describes the other person. Without hesitation, Madelynne replied, “Awesome.” When I asked Mullet Pig a couple of hours later, I said I wasn’t going to tell him what Madelynne’s word for him was (to my knowledge, he’s just finding it out now). Dave pondered on his word for a few seconds. It’s hard to pick just one, isn’t it, I said. Dave, getting a little bit choked up with Daddy pride, said quietly “It is hard to pick just one,” then said, “All right. Awesome.” I laughed, knowing something he didn’t. The piggy apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, it would seem.

He continued, “I have to say ‘awesome.’ You know, just to see her and see her personality and what she does. She’s so open to suggestions but yet, she’ll take those suggestions and make them her own. As a parent, it’s good to see. As she’s growing up, you know, she’s not my little baby anymore—well, she’ll always be my baby—but she’s growing up, she has her own personality, and that’s what I think is cool about all of this. She grasps the concept of what we do out here. Inspiring people.”susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles crew twin cities mullet pig youth corps

Catching Up With the Seattle 3-Day Coaches

Before last year’s Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Series, we introduced the local coaches from each Komen 3-Day. These are the staff members who support the walkers and crew members all year round, answering phone calls and emails, hosting community events, assigning crew captains and juggling dozens of other tasks to make sure that the 3-Day® participants make it to their events excited and well prepared.

Since we gave you the coaches’ full profiles last year, we’ll delight you with just a fun update before each event this year. We’ve already caught up with the Michigan and Twin Cities coaches, and the Seattle 3-Day coaches are in the spotlight this week (you can read last year’s “Meet the Seattle Coaches” here)!

What was your favorite memory from the 2014 Seattle 3-Day?

Paula (Seattle Participant Coach) – I was heartbroken when a back injury kept me from going to the Seattle 3-Day in 2014. As I followed every Facebook post and had my little pity party that weekend, imagine my surprise when a photo of me appeared – it was “Flat Paula,” a picture of my face on a wooden handle – being a part of the entire 3-Day weekend. I was so touched that my co-workers had made sure that I was there, and loved all of the photos of Flat Me with walkers, crew and staff!

Aubrey and Jon with "Flat Paula"

Aubrey and Jon with “Flat Paula”

Aubrey (Seattle Local Events Coach) – Getting to hug people as they crossed the finish line is something I will never forget. Every time I think about it I get choked up. Seeing all those faces showing their pride in themselves and their loved ones, and knowing that they had just achieved greatness is truly an honorable energy to be around. From the people who have crossed the finish line for the umpteenth time, I am inspired by their devotion. For the first-time walker who wasn’t sure if she could do it when she first signed up, I am proud to see her shining so brightly as she finishes, victorious. To be in this position, to get to work with all of these wonderful participants, is truly a gift that I could not put a value on, and that very few will completely understand.11873396_10206315104630549_4253895415114018698_n

Jon (Seattle Crew & Volunteer Coordinator) – The part that stands out most in my mind was walking into the Closing Ceremony arena, leading the entire Seattle 3-Day crew to their positions. It had been a long weekend but everyone was happy to be taking their final steps towards a wonderful ending. There were smiles galore and the cheers that went up when the walkers came by–unforgettable.Dancing Me

Fun facts about the Seattle 3-Day Coaches – Can you guess which fun fact is true about which coach? (There are 3 facts about each coach; answers will be at the end of the Philadelphia 3-Day coaches’ check-in later in September!)

  1. I have lived in 8 states, including each of America’s “corner” states (Washington, California, Maine, and Florida).
  2. I’ve never broken a bone in my body.
  3. I won a dance contest at Howl at the Moon in Orlando against eight far inferior competitors.
  4. I am married to “Santa.” My hubby dons his red suit one day each every year to bring joy (and donated toys) to about 600 needy kids in our community.
  5. I’ve been a runner my whole life and this year I ran my first 50k race (that’s 31 miles)!
  6. I am a California native and have experienced the “thrill” (aka terror!) of living near the epicenter of two BIG earthquakes!
  7. In a recent feat of endurance, in May I drove from Seattle to Cleveland and back in 6 days.
  8. In my experience, seeing Jared Leto from 5 feet away is even better than cupcakes, tacos, and fuzzy socks (which are all things I also love)!
  9. “Here today, gone to Maui!” My favorite vacation spot is calling my name, and I am looking forward to spending two weeks in paradise shortly after the Seattle 3-Day.

 

Looking for the answers from the Twin Cities Coaches’ Fun Facts post? Here they are!

Amy; 2) Eileen; 3) Stephanie; 4) Stephanie; 5) Eileen; 6) Amy; 7) Stephanie; 8) Eileen; 9) Amy

Congratulations to 2015 Twin Cities 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner: Jessica S.

For the 2015 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season, we’re pleased to be featuring a new recognition on each Komen 3-Day event: the Local Impact Award. This award is being given to walkers or crew members who have been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day® in their communities throughout the year. Local Impact Award honorees are participants who go above and beyond with things like leading training walks, attending local events, supporting the local 3-Day staff year-round at meet-ups and workshops, and in general, making a difference in their 3-Day community by building lasting relationships and showing commitment to the 3-Day in all they do.

We’re pleased to share the Twin Cities 3-Day Local Impact award winner: Jessica Stockamp.

Jessica is walking in the Twin Cities 3-Day for the ninth year in a row and is returning as the captain of Team Jill, named after her dear friend who passed away from breast cancer in 2006, one day after her 31st birthday. Jessica saw a television commercial for the Twin Cities 3-Day shortly after Jill’s death, and recalls, “I felt so helpless in watching her lose her battle in the end and I figured it was the least I could do to help another person never have to say good-bye like I did. I called my friend, Darcy and she signed up to walk with me; she never even hesitated. All these years later the team has grown and changed and no one has ever regretted saying yes to walking, crewing or stalking. I have to say I am surrounded by some awesome, inspiring and loving people. I am truly blessed!”

Team Jill, with Jessica holding the N

Team Jill, with Jessica holding the N

The impact Jessica has had in the Twin Cities 3-Day community is far-reaching. Over the last nine years, Jessica has recruited dozens of Team Jill team members (as a team they have raised more than $157,000, including more than $28,000 credited to Jessica alone). She shared, “I don’t know if you should call it recruiting or just talking about my dedication and passion for this…. I’ve had people call me over the years to find out about the 3-Day. I’ll often spend over an hour telling them about my experience and then they sign up! I remember the first year not knowing what it meant to be a team since there were only two of us and then some years having a team of 25 and trying to make a connection with each of them because I wanted them to take away all the positive feelings I have.”

Jessica is also a visible 3-Day advocate around town. At a team fundraising event in the community, a recently-diagnosed woman approached Jessica and thanked her for all of her years of 3-Day participation. “It’s always hard to take the compliment because I feel like I am just walking. They have the hard job of fighting!”

On the 2015 Twin Cities 3-Day, Jessica’s influence touched especially close to home. “This year I have my twin daughters participating with me in the Young Women Walking program. They have watched me walk for eight years and it’s pretty exciting to see that they are able to join me on my 9th year walking.”TC Local Impact Jessica Stockamp and daughters

Jessica calls the 3-Day inspiring, emotional and challenging, and advises her fellow walkers to always bring with them “Good socks and shoes, and a sense of humor. Talking makes the time go by fast, and so does singing—I love to sing! Not sure if my team likes my songs but you can throw out any word and I can sing you a song with that word in it.”

But for all the laughter and songs, the real power behind Jessica’s 3-Day journey always comes back to Jill. “She told us when she was dying that we should never worry about missing her because she would always be with us. She said when we found a dime to think of her and we would know she was watching over us. Team Jill has had many dime sightings and we have shared that story for the past 9 years with other walkers along the route. Finding the dimes is so comforting because watching her suffer was one of the hardest things to see.”

Jessica leaves us with these final thoughts: “I have so much support from my friends and family and I look forward to the 3-Day weekend with them, having one goal in mind­­–finding a cure! We all do things in our everyday lives that we hope matters; this is what I believe I can do to make a difference.”

Thank you, Jessica, for your passionate dedication to the 3-Day and your unwavering commitment to putting an end to breast cancer. We’re proud to have you as part of our family.