The 2015 3-Day – Best of the Blog

If you’ve been a part of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in any way, you know how powerful sharing your story can be, as well as how meaningful it is to listen to the others’ stories. Our stories are what unite us together as a whole, as the Komen 3-Day community. Every week, we bring you some of those stories through the 3-Day® blog: stories that make us smile, stories that evoke emotion, stories that serve as helpful tools for achieving success on the 3-Day and stories that bring us closer together. Let’s take a look back at some of the best of the best blog posts from 2015. Whether you’re new to the 3-Day, a seasoned veteran or somewhere in between, with our wide variety of stories there’s truly something relevant to everyone.

The Community That Walks Together

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12 Things 3-Day Walkers Have to Explain to Outsiders –Let’s kick things off with this year’s most viewed blog post. There’s absolutely no other experience like participating in the 3-Day, and we’ve highlighted some of the event’s main features here (grahamwich goodness included).

The Insider’s Peek at the 3-Day Route – Part 1 (also see Part 2) -Here’s another one of our most viewed posts from 2015. The yellow brick road to the 3-Day finish line, known as the route, is the place where most walkers spend the majority of their waking hours while on the 3-Day. Maybe you’ve blazed the 3-Day trail many times or perhaps you’ll be hitting the ground walking your first event next year. Either way, get the exclusive behind-the-scenes scoop on all the detail and care that goes into planning the route (warning: hills ahead).

3-Day Training Walk Leaders Answer the Question: Why Should I Come to a Training Walk? -Walking 60 miles in 3 days is no easy feat. Even for the most athletic of us, the right kind of training isn’t something that should be overlooked. Throughout the year, our training walk leaders bring 3-Day walkers together not only to walk, but for a number of other reasons. Some of our training walk leaders explain the many benefits of attending official training events in this insightful blog post.

Participant Stories

Participant Stories

“I know she’s there.” –Anna’s Story -We see hundreds of people on every 3-Day event as extraordinary as Anna and her family. People who have endured pain that many of us can’t fathom. People who have celebrated small victories only then to be faced with indescribable losses. But people who also possess some of the strongest spirits of hope you could conceive. Tissues highly recommended while reading this story.

A Piglet Princess Makes Her 3-Day Debut -It’s all in the family. This cute and heartwarming story about how a daughter is following in her (famous) father’s footsteps, carrying on his unique 3-Day legacy in her own way, is guaranteed to brighten your day!

A Disruption of Pink – Seattle 3-Day Team GTM -When a family member was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer, one extended family decided to take action by forming a 3-Day team. What started out as the name of their high school basement band years ago, ended up becoming team GTM – a force of pink to be reckoned with.

How to Achieve Your Fundraising Goal

Fundraising

You Can Raise $2,300 in One Month -Did you know it’s possible to raise $2,300 in as little as one month? Say what?!? Find out how with this fun visual infographic.

Fundraising Strategy: Mark Your Calendars! -Of course, there are many strategies you could use to achieve your fundraising goal. We’ve got a whole section of our blog dedicated solely to fundraising tips and resources, which you can find here. Maybe your fundraising goal isn’t attainable in one month. What’s important is that you have a plan. A great strategy 3-Day coach, Eileen, shared with us involves assigning creative fundraising ideas to holidays and special events throughout the year.

How to Tell Your Story – A Guest Post by Coach Susan -Your story is very important; it is powerful and has the potential to impact others in extraordinary ways. However, at times, it can be difficult to share. One of our 3-Day coaches, Susan, gives her advice on how you can share your valuable story the way it deserves to be shared.

In Their Own Words – Featured Guest Posts

In Their Own Words

“Love will still be there…” –A Guest Post Love Story -“Cancer can’t change who you are or those qualities that you carry which someone who truly loves you will adore despite your cancer. I want that young survivor to keep hope, to keep dreaming, to not let fear take over the strength and beauty she has within her.” Rachel shares beautiful love story for the romantic and an empowering love letter to cancer survivors.

“I didn’t have to watch anymore. I could walk.” – A Guest Post -“This walk became one of the best things I could do for myself. The thing with cancer is it makes you feel helpless. You watch your mom become weak, her body a shell of what it once was…you watch. But with the 3-Day, I didn’t have to watch anymore. I could walk.” Carly opens up about her mother’s difficult battle with breast cancer, and why she, as a mother herself now, has walked eight 3-Day events.

10 Reasons to Register Today – A Guest Post by Jessica C. – 3-Day participants make sacrifices to be a part of the fight against breast cancer, but those sacrifices are not without reward. If you’ve ever considered walking the 3-Day before, we encourage you to expand your ideas on not only what you can give to the 3-Day, but what the 3-Day can give to you (and no, that’s not being selfish).

Be Prepared

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5 Essential Links to Prepare You for the 3-Day -You may want to bookmark this one for next year. We provide you with the resources you’ll need to make sure you’re ready to go for the 3-Day–from what to pack to walking hacks–all wrapped up in one short and sweet blog post.

Essential Tips for 3-Day Travelers – “It’s not just about the destination; it’s about the journey.” That journey doesn’t simply include the 3-Day itself, but also the travel and preparation it takes to get to the starting line. Travel can be stressful, but this useful guide will help you make your trip to and from the 3-Day as smooth as possible, that way, you’ll be a happy camper.

What’s in Your Pack? -As the saying goes: a good 3-Day walker is always prepared (or something along those lines). Do you have all the necessities needed to survive the 3-Day? See what essentials some of our seasoned 3-Day professionals keep in their packs.

Just For Fun

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Things No 3-Day Walker Said, Ever  – “We’d bet our fanny packs that there are some things you’ll never hear a Komen 3-Day walker say.” We brought out the silly side of the 3-Day in this hilarious blog post. Go ahead, have a laugh!

16 Ways to Pass the Time While Walking in the 3-Day – For 3-Day walkers, it takes about 8 hours to walk the 20-mile route each day, and even the most dazzling conversationalists sometimes run out of things to talk about during those many hours of walking. Or perhaps sometimes they just need a playful diversion. This list gives walkers some fun ways to pass the time to keep them focused on something other than how much their feet hurt or how badly they need a porta-potty.

9 Ways You Can Make Friends Through the 3-Day – On the 3-Day, we like to say “there are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet.” It’s no secret that we’re like one big, pink family. Learn more about the many ways in which the 3-Day is a fantastic opportunity to get to know other people and make meaningful connections.

What was your favorite post from 2015? Share in the comments below!

Check Out Our New 3-Day Photo Banner!

What a wonderful time we live in when practically everyone you meet has a camera with them and ready at all times. We know that our Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participants are quite prolific shutterbugs, so we wanted to make sure you were set up with lots of fun photo props in camp (don’t forget to check them out in the Komen 3-Day lounge if you haven’t already!). 11248161_10155854271230392_4995654808154838383_nHere in Seattle, we’ve also added another wonderful photo opportunity at the lunch stop and in camp. This backdrop banner and handheld props allow walkers and crew members to snap pics showing who they are keeping their 3-Day® promises for. Here are some shots we captured at lunch today:IMG_8381 IMG_8383 IMG_8388 IMG_8399 IMG_8402 IMG_8418 IMG_8424 IMG_8430 IMG_8435 IMG_8442 IMG_8446 IMG_8450 IMG_8454 IMG_8461 IMG_8465 IMG_8470Seattle 3-Dayers, be sure to stop by this photo wall at lunch or in camp. And if you’re walking or crewing in a 3-Day event later this year, don’t worry, we’ll have them there too!

Did you take pictures at these inspiring new photo banners? Post them on Facebook or Instagram, and don’t forget to hashtag with #The3Day and #SEA3Day!

“I know she’s there.” – Anna’s Story

When I met Anna Cummings on the Susan G. Komen Twin Cities 3-Day this year, I noticed her lanyard first. It’s covered with 3-Day legacy pins, and I asked her how many times she had walked. She said this year’s Twin Cities 3-Day is her seventh year walking, which is remarkable in itself, but even more so when you learn that Anna is just 22 years old.

“I first crossed the finish line when I was 16.” (Her 16th birthday was actually on Day 3 of the Twin Cities event that year, 2009.) Anna’s mom Laurie had walked for years before that, ever since the first year that the 3-Day came to the Twin Cities. Laurie started a team with some neighbors, who all lived on Myrtle Drive, hence their team name: The Marvelous Myrtle Girls.

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The Cummings Girls (Lizzy, Anna, Carley)

So the 3-Day was on Anna’s radar from a young age. She came out and cheered when her mom would walk, helped with fundraisers, took care of her younger sisters when Laurie would go out on training walks. Those sisters are 3-Day regulars too: Carley (age 18) is walking for the third year, and Lizzy will be old enough to walk next year.

Laurie, a mom of three, was diagnosed with breast cancer when Anna was in the fourth grade. “I knew what cancer was, but didn’t know much else, except that it was a bad thing. I remember sitting on the stairs when our mom told us. Carley asked if she was going to die. She said, ‘We all die some day, but I’m going to do everything I can to beat this.’ I just remember that she was so positive from the start. But I remember being scared. Everyone, even as kids, especially nowadays, knows what cancer is and knows that it’s not a good thing.

“Cancer really has been there for my entire life. Well, since 4th grade, so pretty much my entire life.”

For the Cummings family, cancer will be part of their identities forever. But there are ways for cancer to be part of a person’s or a family’s identity without letting it define the people.

So Laurie started walking. She took charge of that part of her identity, added “3-Day walker” to her definition, and that choice profoundly influenced her daughters, including Anna, who joined her as soon as she was old enough to and says her experience with the 3-Day has been “Amazing. I definitely have a 3-Day family. Even though there are different people every year, I end up seeing people I know every year.”

In 2013, Carley turned 16 and was finally old enough to walk too. Anna recalls, “So my mom, my sister and I got to walk that first year Carley walked. My mom had a hip replacement in 2009, and she slowed down a little bit after that. Before, she would walk every mile, no blisters. Amazing. But even after, she’d still do ten miles a day. So, the three of us walked that year, but then last year [2014] was hard because that was the first year my mom couldn’t walk because of her health.”

But before she began with the next part of her story, I told Anna how I had heard about her and Carley. Earlier this year, I was collecting input from my fellow 3-Day staffers for a blog post about their favorite or most touching moments from the 2014 3-Day events. My colleague Molly told me about the Cummings girls in 2014, saying it was the most touching connection she has ever had on a 3-Day event. I was struck by the story, too.

The Twin Cities 3-Day takes place on the same weekend every year. “The winter before the 2014 3-Day, I had thought about possibly not doing it. It was going to be my 21st birthday, and I thought it was a good time to take a year off. But then I thought, it’s been a part of my life. What better way to celebrate my birthday than doing something that I love.” So she registered again for what would be 3-Day number six. She didn’t know yet that that event, and the 21st birthday she celebrated during the 3-Day weekend, would be one of the hardest years.

Laurie’s health started rapidly declining around June of 2014, even though before that, it seemed that she was doing fine. It was at that time that her doctor told her that she should stop treatment; it wasn’t working anymore and continuing chemotherapy would do more harm than good.

“We were hoping to be able to walk with our mom, but things went downhill pretty fast after her doctor told her that she couldn’t do treatment anymore. He actually said that it would probably get better before it got worse, but that just wasn’t the case. She just went downhill really fast.

“A couple days before the 3-Day, Carley and I were thinking about probably not walking because it was getting really bad. I remember we were sitting on our mom’s bed, and I asked her if she wanted us to walk or if she wanted us to be with her, and she said—very clearly, which she sometimes wasn’t at that point—she said really clearly that she wanted us to walk. I just remember tears flowing down her face.

“So we walked. We didn’t camp, we went home at night to be with her. My 21st birthday was on Saturday, and I saw my mom that night. My dad got me a cross necklace and my mom put it in her hand so when I got home, she opened her hand and it was there. That will forever be important to me.”

“We came back to walk on Day 3. My dad said that her breathing was changing, so we went home for lunch, just to be with her. And, I mean…I knew she wanted us to walk across that finish line. The 3-Day had been part of her life for so long and that was so important to her.” At this point, Anna and I are both choking back tears. “And so we came back after lunch and we crossed the finish line for her.

“And then we went home. I sat with her for a while and she seemed okay, so I was going to get in the shower. But then my dad said you better come back upstairs. So I put my dirty clothes back on. We sat around her bed. Her breathing was getting really heavy. And then she took her last breath right in front of all of us.

“So, she waited until we crossed that finish line. And we all got to be with her.” Amazingly, Anna smiles. “A lot of will power in that lady. She knew. She knew what we were doing and she knew that we were doing it for her.”

I said to Anna, “The 3-Day has been part of your life for so long, continuing to come back has never been a question for you. Was it harder coming back this year knowing that you’re walking in your mom’s memory and not in her honor?”

“Harder, but definitely not changing my mind. There’s no question about it. And I wouldn’t even say harder. Just very different.

“It’s really hard to tell people. Some people we only see once a year out here on the 3-Day and some of them didn’t know my mom had died. And I know a lot of people found out, and we’ve had overwhelming support from the 3-Day community afterwards. There are people who remember her. She actually spoke in camp her last year and a ton of people remembered her from that.

“She was in a lot of pain. She did all she could to fight. She fought for a hard twelve years. She was diagnosed six times within those twelve years. She survived a lot longer than they thought she would.”

I think I know what the obvious answer to my next question is, but I was curious about what Anna would say about it: Do you feel her out here?

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Anna and her Marvelous Myrtle Girls teammates celebrate at the 2015 Twin Cities 3-Day Closing Ceremony.

“I do. I do. In a different way than I will always feel my mom with me, and even in a different way than last year. Last year was a huge ton of emotions just with her not being there walking with us, but this year, she’s just not here at all. But I do, I feel her in the community, I feel her when I’m walking alone. I know she’s there, and it’s weird and it’s humbling. It’s sad. It’s emotional.”

We see hundreds of people on every 3-Day event as extraordinary as Anna and her family. People who have endured pain that many of us can’t fathom. People who have celebrated small victories only then to be faced with indescribable losses. But people who also possess some of the strongest spirits of hope you could conceive. Even when these people, like Anna and her family, experience the worst chapters imaginable, they don’t give up hope. They don’t give up trying, and doing things that are difficult and uncomfortable, and fighting.