Dr. Sheri’s Michigan 3-Day Experience: Family Is What You Make It

The 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Series officially kicked off in Michigan August 15-17, and Michigan exploded with excitement, enthusiasm and commitment. We were graced with three days of beautiful weather, no liquid sunshine to speak of and a team of 375 volunteer crew members who gave untiringly of themselves to make this event a success. Nine hundred walkers showed up at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi on Friday morning all smiles, their New Balance shoes laced and stories of triumph ready to fuel our three-day journey.

Dr. Sheri welcoming home the last Michigan Walker on Friday, August 15

Dr. Sheri welcoming home the last Michigan Walker on Friday, August 15

On Day One, I saw a couple at the first cheering station who approached me while holding hands. I thanked them for walking and told them how adorable they looked and as they passed, they both looked back over their shoulder and yelled simultaneously, “We’re on our honeymoon!” At first I was amazed but then I remembered where I was – the Komen 3-Day! I’ve come to realize that just about anything good and pure is possible at the 3-Day®. I later heard that another couple got engaged at one of the pit stops on the same day. Love was truly in the air.

My husband Dr. Donald rearranged his work schedule so he could join me during this event. On Sunday evening he looked at me with the biggest smile on his face and said, “I really love the 3-Day! I’ve never seen such purposeful commitment and dedication as I have repeatedly seen on every 3-Day I’ve attended.”

We are a family. There’s a famous quote that reads “Family is what you make it.” Together we have made a powerful stand in the fight to end breast cancer. We have proven ourselves strong, committed, determined and driven by a common goal. Whether made of blood relatives, friends or a combination of these, your family can offer you the support you need to thrive. Barbara Bush once said, “To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.” We were there for each other in Michigan and we will continue to embrace and carry each other throughout this upcoming season.

2014 Michigan 3-Day Wrap-up

We had a rainy start to the week in Michigan this past week, but the clouds parted and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® opened on Friday with a spectacular morning filled with color and life. Nine hundred walkers and over 300 crew members arrived at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, and were greeted with a new look to the Komen 3-Day Opening Ceremony set-up. Many bright-eyed 3-Dayers quickly took advantage of the photo opps in front of our new ceremony banners (to get a peek at the many shots that were taken, check out the hashtags #MI3Day and #The3Day on Instagram). The Opening Ceremony also had some new elements, including a lovely photo tribute to those loved ones we’ve lost to breast cancer. It was a powerful homage that filled everyone with a motivating passion to hit the ground moving on the first day of the first 3-Day® of 2014.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog michigan 2014 opening ceremony photo tribute

The Day 1 route took walkers on a 22-mile loop from Opening back to camp at the same location, but the route was anything but boring. With beautiful strolls through the neighborhoods of Novi, Farmington and Farmington Hills, walkers were treated to amazing themed pit stops and grab & go’s, and even a Las Vegas-themed lunch stop. Back at camp, the 3-Day community was deeply moved by 32 year old Meghan Malley, the Komen Detroit Co-Chair for Young Survivor and Metastatic Breast Cancer Initiatives, who spoke in the camp show about Komen’s commitment to expanding research into the cures for all breast cancers, including late-stage. You could feel the impact of her speech hanging in the air.

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Meghan Malley with Susan G. Komen rep Norm Bowling

Day 2 was another 22-mile loop out and back from camp, but with new and different highlights than Day 1. Supporters came out in droves to the cheering stations in downtown Northville and Plymouth, where the famous “pink fountain” provided an unforgettable backdrop for photos and reunions with supporters. There were some beautiful spans of route going through the nature areas along Hines Drive, and walkers were given some of the most enthusiastic welcomes we’ve ever seen, courtesy of three local football teams who came out to cheer the walkers into camp.

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Supporters came out to Northville on Saturday morning to cheer (for no one in particular?).

And before we knew it, Day 3 was upon us, and the walkers’ sights were focused on reaching the 60-mile prize. After a short bus ride to the route, walkers were greeted by nearly 300 youth cheerleaders from local teams and leagues, who formed a pink pom-pom-lined human tunnel stretching the length of a football field. Further up the route, friends and family came out to set up dozens of private cheering stations all along the lovely Hines Drive walkway (thankfully no longer under water!).

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Dozens of local cheer squads lined the route on Sunday morning.

Closing Ceremony was emotional as always, as we celebrate the magnificent accomplishment of 60 miles walked and $2.4 million raised by Michigan 3-Day participants. Dr. Sheri, as well as the ceremony participants from Opening on Friday, reminded us that we’ve made incredible strides in our fight, but we will never give up until we have put an end to breast cancer. The journey ahead—six more 3-Day events, 360 more miles, millions more steps—is a challenging one, but one that the 3-Day family will meet with passion, dedication and unwavering fortitude. We can’t wait to share it with you.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog michigan 2014 day 3 cheerleaders

David of Cleveland Cleavage and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Community

Those who know the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® know that above all, the Komen 3-Day is a family. New and returning participants alike are greeted with open arms, warmly welcomed into a bold community that is bravely fighting breast cancer with passion, drive and stamina. We caught up with David G. and several of his Cleveland Cleavage teammates, to learn more about what the 3-Day® means to them.

David and his Cleveland Cleavage teammate Tina head to the lunch stop on Day 3 of the Michigan 3-Day.

David and his Cleveland Cleavage teammate Tina head to the lunch stop on Day 3 of the Michigan 3-Day.

David’s friendly blue eyes twinkle as he recounts his numerous 3-Day events; all told, David has raised over $24,000 in the 11 3-Day events he’s been a part of (nine as a walker and two as a crew member). David became involved in the Komen community in 2005 by participating in several Race for the Cure® events in Cleveland with Nancy, a decades-long friend who was battling breast cancer. David decided to walk the 3-Day for her and several other people in his life who were lost to cancer. “I decided to surprise her in 2010 and told her that I was going to be doing the 3-Day. She was over the moon happy. I did it in July of 2010 in Cleveland, did the final Race for the Cure with her two months later, and then about three weeks later she took her final turn, after a ten year fight. I walk for her, and for my grandma, my best friend, my neighbor. I’m walking for them all,” said David.

Like David, his new Cleveland Cleavage teammate Rachel K., from Macomb, Michigan, also has a very personal connection to the cause. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Rachel remembers those she’s walking for as a way to keep her inspired on the route. “I always remember the reasons why I’m walking. Don’t forget, because those people are cheering you on. That’s what gets me through.” Rachel walked the 3-Day once before in 2008. (Fun fact: Rachel joined the Cleveland Cleavage team after seeing the team’s photos on Instagram!)

In addition to Rachel, David was joined this weekend in Michigan by several other members of the Cleveland Cleavage team, and his face lights up as he describes his love for Cleveland. “Born there, raised there, lived there my entire life. I love Cleveland!” While the team’s name is inspired by the Ohio city, the sixteen members of the team (including one Youth Corps member) are from all over the country, including Michigan, California, Kansas, Missouri, and Virginia. “We’ve got half the country represented,” David jokes.

What does this bunch think of walking Michigan, even when their team names boasts an allegiance to Cleveland? “I could almost throw a rock at Michigan from there,” David says of Cleveland. “I’m blessed to still be so close to an event,” he said. “I’m driving to Philly and flying to San Diego, so distance won’t deter me.” He adds, “Plymouth was the most awesome cheering station I’ve ever seen.” That’s saying a lot, from a guy with David’s level of experience.

David and Jodi, a member of Cleveland Cleavage

David and Jodi, a member of Cleveland Cleavage

David’s love of the Cleveland community also echoes in the way he’s successfully raised funds over the years. David describes his fundraising efforts as creative and local, including several types of events like bowling parties and wing nights. “I just try to come up with new things,” he said.

It’s a pleasure talking with David and his teammates, and before we know it, their lunch break has ended and they’re ready to keep moving. I know that with the Michigan 3-Day Closing Ceremony just a few hours away, this may be the last time I see David on this event, but I smile knowing I’ll spot his tall, smiling personage in more 2014 3-Day cities. His parting thoughts? “Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the people. Enjoy the atmosphere. If you walk all 60, great. But you’ve already done the hard part by fundraising to get here. And that’s where you help the cause. The walk is a celebration of that.”