The Spirit of Giving: The Susan G. Komen 3-Day Santa

Anyone who has been to a Susan G. Komen 3-Day® knows that during those three days, beauty is all around you. Each day is also packed with hope, inspiration, endurance, and magical moments. Some of that Komen 3-Day magic comes from the smiles and cheers of spectators, rooting you on to keep putting one foot after the other. Some of it comes from sitting down at lunch, enjoying some water, a yummy sandwich and a chat with your fellow 3-Dayers. Some of it comes from the beauty of the scenery around you, winding paths through lush green forests, or the dazzling sky line of the city. However, the best magic comes from the people you meet, each one with their own inspiring story, and few stories feel more magical than the 3-Day® Santa.

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Santa is easy to spot, with a full white beard and fuzzy pointed hat (naturally, he traded in red for pink for this occasion). He is greeted with joy by the many participants and spectators who want to take a photo with him. Santa is a veteran walker (this Philadelphia event is his eighth 3-Day), a training walk leader, a member of the North Pole Endurance Team, and is known as the Marathon Santa for all of the events he participates in. He has also been photographed with his Naughty or Nice list for the 60-Mile Men calendar (composed of male 3-Day participants). When Santa isn’t at the North Pole, he spends time at what he calls “a major workshop in Maryland,” sometimes dabbling in chemical engineering. He trains about 1,000 miles per year, and completes multiple charitable events, including pancreatic cancer awareness events and the Disney Marathon weekend.

Why does Santa fly his sleigh to the 3-Day and walk 60 miles? Santa joined the 3-Day family after participating in the Global Race for the Cure in Washington, D.C. After seeing an ad for the 3-Day, Santa decided to take a bold step and walk his first 60 miles. “I have a personal score to settle with breast cancer,” he said.  “I walk for several reasons. When my son got married, his wife’s mother died shortly after from breast cancer.” His son’s wife and her two sisters were tested for BRCA gene, and “of the three girls, my son’s wife was BRCA positive.” Later, his 82-year-old aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Santa also tells the story of meeting a family at a Get Started Meeting who had a 12-year-old daughter facing breast cancer. Santa had a personal mission to fundraise $10,000 in the name of this young lady, and he embarked on his “Bold Bald Santa” initiative. Santa made a promise that if he raised $10,000, he would walk an event completely bald. To help rally his supporters to $10,000, he dyed his hair neon green, eventually progressing to hot pink, and then a mohawk, and then he shaved it off when he surpassed his goal and raised $15,000.

Santa's home away from the North Pole includes twinkling Christmas lights and Santa flags.

Santa’s home away from the North Pole includes twinkling Christmas lights and Santa flags.

Meeting Santa is a special experience for everybody, children and adult 3-Dayers alike. In Santa’s spirit of giving, he passes out a special memento to those he meets along the route: a beautiful custom minted coin with his likeness. Santa gradually created more and more unique coins, all illustrated by himself, including coins for Mrs. Claus, his CEO (Chief Elf of Operations), the North Pole Elves, and even a special coin for pets. “Throughout the years, everybody kept asking me, do you have a coin for my pet? The 2013 edition is a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer coin, just for people’s pets.” These coins establish Santa’s ‘credibility’. “When a child comes up to me, I let them start the conversation. I get some very strange questions,” Santa laughs. A common question Santa encounters is, “Are you real?” Sometimes the coins aren’t enough to prove his authenticity, so when he meets a real skeptic, Santa whips out his International Sleigh License, complete with a North Pole address, Date of Birth of ‘Ageless’ and a weight of ‘Jolly’.

Santa passes out special custom coins to those he meets.

Santa passes out special custom coins to those he meets.

Santa’s role as a 3-Day walkers is inspiring, and he’ll often walk with other 3-Dayers and encourage them to keep moving. “People say to me, ‘You know, if it hadn’t been for you, I couldn’t have finished.’ I try really hard to live up to my motto, which is the tradition of giving. I try to inspire people to do that little bit extra for giving support.”

Santa is definitely a giver: of hope, inspiration, and the unwavering endurance it takes to fight breast cancer. His message rings loud and clear with the 3-Day family: choose to believe in magic and the spirit of giving.

Congratulations to Stephanie C., the Philly Susan G. Komen 3-Day Milestone Award Winner

Congratulations to Stephanie C., the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day Milestone Award Winner! The 2014 Komen Philadelphia 3-Day is Stephanie’s 7th 3-Day, after having done her first 3-Day in Philadelphia in 2006. Stephanie has also crewed one time in Philadelphia in 2012, an experience that she really enjoyed, noting, “I was on trash clean-up and I loved it.”

Over the years, Stephanie has raised over $135,000; an incredible amount that has no doubt helped change many lives. What’s one of Stephanie’s fundraising tricks? “Do something that is FUN! I hold a golf outing each year and each year I have been able to increase sponsorship fees because I ensure my guests enjoy the day. I now have a following that I believe I will be able to sustain as long as I have the energy,” Stephanie said. Stephanie started hosting the golf outings in 2009, and they end up being big fundraisers for her, sometimes netting more than $20,000.

Like many others who embark on their 3-Day journey, Stephanie joined the 3-Day after a friend who had been touched by breast cancer asked her to walk. “My motto is always that I will try something once and if I don’t like it I don’t have to do it again. I got injured on my first 3-Day in 2006, so I waited two years to walk and my inspiration since then has been all those that have been afflicted by this dreaded disease,” said Stephanie.

As a seasoned 3-Dayer, what is it about the 3-Day that keeps Stephanie coming back? Stephanie describes the moment she knew was coming back when “survivors walked into Villanova stadium after my first 3-Day. I had trained and trained and trained and it was not real until I looked around as all the participants took off their sneakers to pay tribute to the survivors who had the strength to do the walk. It was a humbling and overwhelming experience and even after six walks – I still cry.” (So do we, Stephanie.)

When asked to share her best advice for those new to the 3-Day family, Stephanie said to never underestimate the importance of stretching, and above all, to have fun. “The most important thing is to have fun. I talk to new people and enjoy my surroundings (especially when walking in new places). Anyone who is out there walking is blessed and I am thankful that God has given me the strength and tenacity to make the trek each year. Sixty miles is nothing compared to what those that are battling cancer deal with.”

After raising $135,000 and walking over 360 miles total, Stephanie has one more thing to tell you. “Remember – you make a difference. No matter how small – it adds up to be immense,” she said. We couldn’t agree more.

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Susan G. Komen 3-Day Top Fundraisers

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Day 1 of the Philadelphia 3-Day has come to a close, and our 21.5 mile journey was filled with beautiful moments, like a perfect flock of geese flying over Opening Ceremony against a brilliant blue sky, smiling community members cheering us on through out Philadelphia, and a lovely end of the route that wrapped up through downtown Philadelphia, past the famed Rocky Steps and Philadelphia Art Museum. We ended the day with an exciting Camp Show, where we stretched, heard from inspiring speakers, played games, and celebrated some very special people. Please join us in congratulating the top fundraisers for the Komen 3-Day this weekend.

Top Individual Fundraiser

Congratulations to Julie Copaken, who’s raised $29,370 for the Philadelphia 3-Day, and in her lifetime has raised over $149,794 for the 3-Day. This is her 7th year participating and her 7th event, and she’s a member of the Breast Friends of Pennsylvania team.  Julie has been involved with the 3-Day in numerous ways since 2005, and is an identical twin. Julie’s adventurous life goes beyond fundraising and training for 60-mile walks; she’s also a certified scuba diver, marathon runner, and an avid traveler. Hats off to Julie!

Congratulations to Julie, the Philadelphia 3-Day Top Individual Fundraiser.

Congratulations to Julie, the Philadelphia 3-Day Top Individual Fundraiser.

Top Fundraising Team

Congratulations to the Breast Friends of Pennsylvania, who raised an astonishing $200,951 for the Philly 3-Day, and in their second year as a team, have raised a lifetime total of $330,621 toward fighting breast cancer. The Breast Friends of Pennsylvania team has 83 members.

Breast Friends of Pennsylvania Team Captain Vivian Vega Schoch collects her team’s prize.

Breast Friends of Pennsylvania Team Captain Vivian Vega Schoch collects her team’s prize.

Top Crew Fundraiser

Congratulations to Priscilla Rawlins, who raised $11,609 for the Philly 3-Day, and in her lifetime, has raised $41,968 for the 3-Day. This is Priscilla’s sixth year participating in the 3-Day and her 7th event. Priscilla has been involved with the 3-Day since 2001, is a member of Team Girlapalooza, and is a dedicated lover of Starbucks.

Priscilla and her daughter. Priscilla fights breast cancer so her daughter won't have to. (Photo credit: Priscilla R.)

Priscilla and her daughter. Priscilla fights breast cancer now so her daughter won’t have to. (Photo credit: Priscilla R.)

 

Congratulations to all of our amazing fundraisers for their incredible dedication, along with all of our participants, for helping us get one step closer to the cures. To learn more about the top individual, Crew and team fundraisers in Philadelphia, as well as our eight series walkers, check out the framed table-top displays in camp.