Congratulations to the 2015 Atlanta 3-Day Award Winners

At the Susan G. Komen Atlanta 3-Day, we were delighted to shine the spotlight on some of our outstanding Komen 3-Day participants with special awards given out in camp.

Top Fundraisers

We recognized the top individual, crew and team fundraisers for the Atlanta 3-Day® in camp on Saturday.

The top crew fundraiser in Atlanta was Pamella Whitham, who was a member of the lunch crew. Pamella, a breast cancer survivor, has been part of the 3-Day for 12 years, with this year’s Atlanta 3-Day being her 12th event. As a crew member this year, she raised an incredible $8,515; her lifetime fundraising total is $47,175. When she’s not traveling the country for 3-Day events, Pamella is a realtor in Malibu, CA, and lives with her husband Bob who raises Budgies (parakeets).IMG_3319The top fundraising team in Atlanta was Grand Ta Ta’s. On most 3-Day events, the top fundraising team is also the largest team, but in Atlanta, it was quite the opposite. The Grand Ta Ta’s are made up of only five team members and together, they raised $80,400. In their five years as a team, this group has raised an astonishing $503,600. Amazing!

4 of the 5 Grand Ta Ta's team members at Opening Ceremony in Atlanta

4 of the 5 Grand Ta Ta’s team members at Opening Ceremony in Atlanta

The captain of the Grand Ta Ta’s, Christi-Ann Wiltberger, was also Atlanta’s top individual fundraiser, bringing in $40,000 on her own (fundraising awesomeness must run in the family; Christi-Ann’s sister Jennifer, a Grand Ta Ta’s teammate, was the #3 fundraiser in Atlanta, raising over $20,000).IMG_3310

Our thanks and applause go to all of the wonderful walkers, crew members and supporters who helped bring the Atlanta 3-Day to $2.2 million in total donations.


Milestone Award

Tara, the local coach for the Atlanta 3-Day, joined us on stage on Friday night to recognize the Atlanta 3-Day Milestone Award winner. This award is given on each 3-Day event to one participant who has an extraordinary history of involvement with the 3-Day. The Milestone Award for Atlanta was presented to Shelley Middleton.

Shelley, a 21-year breast cancer survivor, told us that her favorite number is 3 and her favorite color has always been pink, even before her diagnosis, so it seems like she was always destined to be part of the 3-Day family. She first took part in the 3-Day 9 years ago, and this year’s Atlanta 3-Day marks her 9th event. In her history with the 3-Day, Shelley has raised over $69,000.

Shelley and coach Tara

Shelley and coach Tara

Shelley, a mother of 13-year-old triplets, has quite the team supporting her at home, but is part of a small team of two on the 3-Day. Her sister Susie is her teammate on Nancy’s Angels; the team is named for their mom, who passed 32 years ago. Susie had this to say about her sister: “Shelley is such a fighter and a strong 21-year survivor who gives so many people hope and inspiration to do the same. She asked me to walk the 3-Day ten years ago and we haven’t stopped since. Our little team of two has raised over $150,000 dollars in the ten years. We don’t want another mother, daughter, sister, aunt or friend to be affected by this disease.”

Congratulations, Shelley, and thank you for your years of dedication to the 3-Day community. We are grateful for all you are and all you do.

Local Impact Award

The Local Impact Award is a new award for 2015, and is being presented to a participant in each 3-Day city who has been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day in their community 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.

In Atlanta, we were pleased to honor two participants with the Local Impact Award: husband and wife Charles and Renee McCollum. Charles and Renee have been part of the 3-Day for 5 years and 5 events, Charles as a crew member and Renee as a walker. As part of team Badges for Boobies, the couple has raised a combined total of over $16,000.IMG_3288

In preparing to present these two 3-Dayers with the award, we tricked them a little bit and told each individual that the award was going to their spouse. That way, we were able to get thoughts from each of them about their partner. Sneaky? Maybe a little, but worth it. Charles shared this about his wife: “Renee is always trying to recruit new walkers and will take time to explain everything about the 3-Day. She arranges training walks that will fit others’ schedules just so that they can get ready for the event. She can meet a stranger and make them feel like she has known them for years right away. She has been the force behind me getting my health back together after my heart attack in 2013. She makes sure I eat right and I cannot begin to thank her enough for her support and love. She has been my inspiration and I would not be where I am in my life without her as my wife and best friend!”

So sweet! Renee’s thoughts about her husband are just as lovely: “Charles has such a heart for the 3-Day and all those involved, especially ‘his’ walkers. He absolutely lives for the privilege of being there every morning to hug the walkers when they head out and let them know he will personally be there when they get back. He is moved to tears at merely discussing his connection with many of the walkers, especially the elderly or physically fragile ones who he gets to literally carry off the sweep vans. He has made a special connection each of our 4 previous years with at least one particular walker who struggled to make it and just hugged and cried with them when they crossed the finish line each day! I almost make it a joke during our training walks and have someone ask him about his “hug buddies.” He tries to tell one of the stories and just starts crying…he can’t do it. It is the most special thing to see MY MAN have that kind of heart!”

Join us in congratulating and thanking Charles and Renee for their extraordinary commitment to the Atlanta 3-Day community. And thanks, as always, to the entire Atlanta 3-Day family for another spectacular year.

The Insider’s Peek at the San Diego Route

Earlier this year, we treated our readers to The Insider’s Peek at the 3-Day Route, where we gave you a detailed look at the planning, work and execution that goes into creating the routes for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Series. While that two-part Insider’s Peek was full of tasty details, it didn’t explicitly address the particulars of any specific Komen 3-Day location.

Until now!

It seemed like a natural progression to go from an expansive overview of 3-Day® route-planning in general to a more pinpointed look at each of the seven 3-Day events. So I’ve been picking the brains of the event planning team and local coaches to get the skinny on what walkers can expect. Sharing this information early on will help walkers prepare for their events, train for what’s to come and know what exciting high points to look forward to.

We’ve done one of these location-specific route peeks for every 2015 3-Day event. (Curious about the other 3-Day events’ routes? Click away for the Michigan, Twin Cities, Seattle, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Dallas/Fort Worth routes.) Today, last but not least, it’s the San Diego 3-Day’s moment in the spotlight. Let’s see what Event Planning Manager Emily and Local Events Coach Kim had to say about this year’s San Diego route!2014_3DAY_SD_JF_0536

Do you know of any major changes to San Diego’s route from last year? – Kim shared that there are some minor changes to the route but, “It should pretty much be the same as it has been in the past. And in the past it has been AWESOME!” Emily added, “There will be a new pit stop on Day 1, after the Torrey Pines hill. It’ll be in the same area, but a slightly different location. It likely won’t change the route at all. The biggest changes come on Day 3. We’ve been looking at changing up the Participant Finish Area (formerly known as “Holding”), so this year it will be at Embarcadero Park South, right on the water. Some of you may recognize it as a former site of the Closing Ceremony from many years ago. The end of Day 3 will have an adjustment to the route through downtown, taking walkers closer to the waterfront, with the Closing Ceremony still taking place outside of Petco Park.”2014_3DAY_SD_JF_1337 2014_3DAY_SD_JF_1423

What, if any, geographical challenges does San Diego’s route present (i.e., are there hills? Poor sidewalks? Sections with no shade? Portions of the route that sweep vans can’t access easily?)? – The San Diego 3-Day event does have some notorious hills, but nothing our tenacious walkers can’t handle. Emily summed it up: “There’s a big hill on each day, and general hilliness on all three days.” Kim added some detail about the big three hills: “There’s the Torrey Pines hill on the first day, which is a gorgeous walk up a large hill. Day 2 has one short but tough uphill on Narraganset Street. On Day 3, there’s a long portion along the canal, which, thankfully is flat, but can be hot if the sun is bright that day, and then we end up in Old Town for the Juan Street hill, which is a tough one. So YES, train on hills!”2014_3DAY_SD_JF_1170 With some unique sections of route, Kim and Emily have a few added notes: “Torrey Pines is a protected nature reserve, so there are certain restrictions: no boas, ribbons, balloons or music are allowed in that area, so there will be a drop point for those prohibited items prior to heading up the hill (walkers can pick their items up back in camp). Extra sweep support will be at the bottom and top; no vehicles are allowed in the reserve, but our route safety crew members and the San Diego PD will be on bikes keeping an eye on everyone. There’s almost always a stop right before those big hills or before big stretches of no sweep access.”2014_3DAY_SD_JF_0270 2014_3DAY_SD_JF_0322 And while you might be quick to assume that the weather in San Diego will be perfect (and it usually is pretty darn close), Emily reminds walkers, “Walking in November could be overcast and drizzly along the coast, and it does get cold and damp at night, because we will be camping right on the water. But to walk by the coast for the majority of the route and feel that clear, crisp ocean air is a really a unique thing about the event.”2014_3DAY_SD_JF_0935 2014_3DAY_SD_JF_0398

Any specific highlights/locations that walkers can look forward to seeing along the way? – Like we’ve seen on every other route peek, the local coaches are always very eager to brag about what their events have to offer. 2014_3DAY_SD_JF_0363 2014_3DAY_SD_JF_0841Kim shared, “Every day is amazing in San Diego. Some of my favorite highlights are walking through Del Mar Village with their HUGE several-blocks-long cheering station. Walking along the coast heading up to Torrey Pines is so picturesque, as is La Jolla Cove (don’t forget to look for the sea lions!). And that is just Day 1! On Day 2, I would have to say that Sunset Cliffs is by far my favorite part, and on Day 3, the highlight is walking through Old Town and all the amazing support going up Juan Street hill.” Emily confirmed and added why she loves the San Diego 3-Day route: “The Del Mar community cheering station is amazing. They decorate everything pink and hundreds of people come out to support. The uniqueness of each beach community is so much fun. There’s time on the boardwalk, so you get a real taste of the surfer beach culture. Sunset Cliffs is spectacular. You go through Mission Park and get a great stroll along the waterfront and through Seaport Village. The neighborhoods are all so unique in their own way!”2014_3DAY_SD_JF_1075

Any other information you can provide about the overall “essence” of the San Diego route? From Kim: “There are hills and you should train for them, but most of the walk is relatively flat. Be ready to take lots of pictures of our gorgeous coastline and fun towns. San Diego is known for the community support and 2015 will not disappoint!” Emily added, “Overall, the route and the event experience itself encompasses such a great variety of everything San Diego stands for and has to offer. From North County, down to the beach communities and the Bay, to downtown…it just really captures the essence of what San Diego is all about. The ocean, the history, all the key spots you would want to visit anyway while you’re there. You just hit all the cool spots, you couldn’t really do much better.”2014_3DAY_SD_JF_0417 2014_3DAY_SD_JF_0252

The Bottom Line – San Diego, being the final 3-Day event of the year, is always a big celebration with a great, fun vibe from start to finish. The hills can certainly be challenging, but if you’ve worked hills into your training, you’ll be fine. And while it’s unlikely that we’ll experience bad weather in beautiful Southern California, we did have the infamous storm of 2010, so anything can happen. As always, keep an eye on the weather in the days prior to the event, and prepare accordingly.

The Insider’s Take – San Diego was one of the first 3-Day events I walked, and is the one I have participated in more than any other (walked there four times, crewed there twice). There’s a good reason why the amazing California coastal locale draws more walkers every year than any other 3-Day: it’s breathtakingly beautiful, and the community support is second to none. San Diego is one of the most fun and lively 3-Day cities there is.2014_3DAY_SD_JF_0930

One Final Friendly Reminder – Don’t forget to keep that lively, celebratory San Diego attitude alcohol-free. Consuming alcohol during a long-distance walk can be dangerous, and alcohol is prohibited at all 3-Day sites, including pit stops and camp. If you do leave the route while you’re walking, for any reason, make sure you don’t get left behind. If you see the “caboose” (that’s a 3-Day staff member on a bike), that’s the end of the line of walkers, and once she has passed, we can’t guarantee that walkers behind her will be supported. Keep your hydration choices to water and sports drinks.

2015 Atlanta 3-Day Wrap-up

The Susan G. Komen Atlanta 3-Day has finished for another year, and we could not be more thankful for this amazing community and the memorable weekend we shared.

We gathered in the pre-dawn hours on Friday morning at Stone Mountain Park, a breathtaking backdrop as the sun rose just in time for us to begin the 3-Day journey. The incomparable Dr. Sheri was joined on stage by Chrissy Mathews from Susan G. Komen®, as well as Tara, our local events coach in Atlanta, for a moving Opening Ceremony.IMG_2413 IMG_2375

Walkers set out onto the route, weaving the first few miles through the beautiful park. After a quick break at the pit stop 1, walkers exited the park and hit the streets and a cheering station in Old Historic Stone Mountain Village.IMG_2472IMG_2941 From there, walkers looped through the communities west of Atlanta, making their way toward the city. They passed through the quaint downtown Decatur area, where they were greeted with another cheering station and pit stop 2.IMG_2819 A longer break greeted the walkers at lunch, which was one big pajama party, and from there, the route passed through the eclectic neighborhood of Little Five Points. Crew teams at pit stops 3 and 4 kept walkers pumped up and fueled up in the afternoon.IMG_2784 IMG_3048 As they headed into the downtown Atlanta area, walkers passed by Centennial Olympic Park, built for visitors and spectators of the 1996 Olympic Summer Games. Soon, they had arrived at camp at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Friday night’s camp show, hosted by Dr. Sheri and Chrissy, was emotional. We heard from the Greater Atlanta Affiliate of Susan G. Komen, who told us about the ways that the 3-Day helps fund programs in Atlanta. This was followed by moving speeches from Julie H., who talked about the realities of living with Stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer, and Karen, speaking on behalf of her friend and teammate Rachel who passed away from breast cancer about a month ago. We also recognized Atlanta’s top training walk leader and the Atlanta 3-Day Milestone Award winner.

On Day 2, walkers set out from camp and headed north for the day. Much of Day 2 was spent in the community of Buckhead, where walkers enjoyed the New Balance cheerleaders at a lovely tree-lined pit stop.IMG_2982 IMG_3105 Yes, there were hills a-plenty on Saturday, but the beautiful scenery and dazzling homes (including the Governor’s mansion) gave the walkers plenty to look at as they climbed. Numerous cheer stations along the way kept weary walkers motivated; a favorite was a grassy stop just before lunch with some lovable pooches who came out to support the walkers.IMG_3088 IMG_3181 The lunch stop was at the Greater Atlanta Komen Affiliate headquarters, complete with a pink-dyed fountain, and dozens of Komen Atlanta’s people came out to cheer the walkers in.IMG_3184 As they headed back toward camp, walkers passed by some of downtown Atlanta’s most popular tourist spots, including the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola.IMG_3061

The camp show on Saturday night was a flurry of awards, as we recognized Atlanta’s top fundraisers and Local Impact Award winners. We heard a touching, and at times funny speech from Gerald, a 10-time walker who shared his story of being a co-survivor to his first two wives, both of whom passed from breast cancer. The Saturday camp show was topped off with some heart-touching messages from the Atlanta Youth Corps, who were the perfect inspirations to kick off the always popular Saturday dance party.

The amount of get-up-and-go at the start of Day 3 was incredible, especially from walkers who had already covered over 40 miles of their journey.IMG_3425 The route started out with a stroll and a pit stop on the beautiful Georgia Tech campus, and from there, walkers headed into Piedmont Park, one of Atlanta’s loveliest parks.IMG_3470 IMG_3536 The lunch stop was rocking once again, as walkers relaxed on the cool sunny day and crew members treated tehm to a non-stop dance-a-thon. A highlight of the afternoon was a walk past the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site before turning towards Turner Field, the site of our Atlanta 3-Day Closing Ceremony.IMG_3846

Walkers crossed the finish line at Turner Field, where hundreds of friends and family members waited to welcome them (and one special guy proposed to his gal as she crossed under the arch!).IMG_3864 IMG_3883 IMG_3925 The unbelievable energy that Atlanta walkers and crew members showed all weekend long seemed to be turned up even more at the Closing Ceremony, where Dr. Sheri, Chrissy and Tara congratulated this amazing Atlanta family on their extraordinary journey.IMG_4003 IMG_4082 IMG_4018 IMG_4300We thanked our marvelous supporters, sponsors and local jurisdictions who helped us along our 60-mile journey, and the whole place erupted with joy when Chrissy shared that a remarkable $2.2 million was raised by Atlanta’s 800 walkers and 275 crew members. The Atlanta 3-Day family danced it out one final time, and as the final flag of the 3-Day was raised, we remembered and repeated the promise we made way back on Friday morning: to never give up our fight until we have ended breast cancer forever.IMG_4176 IMG_4294

Want to see a sneak peek of photos from the Atlanta 3-Day? Click here, and don’t forget to watch Facebook later this week for a full album you can download, tag, and share!