The Emotional Journey of the 3-Day Fundraiser

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is an experience which elicits deep and profound emotional responses at every turn. For most Komen 3-Day walkers, the emotional journey begins as soon as they register and are faced with the challenge of raising $2300. Join us as we dissect the phases of feelings that the average 3-Day® fundraiser goes through.

Anxiety susan g. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk fundraising

How am I going to raise all that money? Will I have enough time? What if no one donates to me? The beginning of the fundraiser’s journey is often fraught with stomach-churning apprehension. It’s totally normal. Raising $2300 is a big challenge, and it deserves a respectful degree of trepidation.

Resolvesusan g. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk fundraising resolve

The good news is, for most fundraisers, the anxiety phase is quickly pushed aside by a firm resolve to get the job done. You realize that any fear you’re feeling about fundraising is nothing compared to the terrifying reality of a breast cancer diagnosis, and you are soon ready to move beyond the worry and get to work.

Excitementsusan g. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk fundraising excitement

Once you’ve dug in your heels and determined that failure is not an option, the fun starts. There are literally hundreds of ways that a 3-Day walker can raise money, and figuring out which strategies will work best is an exciting prospect. Should I organize a fundraising event? I wonder how much money I could raise just by recycling cans and bottles… Hey, my brother works for a company that does matching gifts! Even if your go-to tactic is as simple as sending an email to your friends and family, you will feel a special thrill in expressing your reasons for walking and your anticipation about the 60-mile journey. You will be eager to invite your friends and family to join you in the voyage.

AnticipationSusan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.

So you’ve hit “Send” on your fundraising emails, and now…you wait. Waiting can be stressful, but remember that the fundraiser’s journey is a marathon, not a sprint. It can take time for those donations to roll in, so be patient. Give it a week or two, then send a follow-up.

Inspirationsusan g. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk fundraising inspiration

And oh, when the donations come it, how sweet it is! There’s nothing quite like the delight of getting those notification emails letting you know that you’ve received a new donation. Your hard work is paying off, and with every new donation, your faith in humanity is confirmed. You’ll find yourself surprised and overwhelmed by the generosity that can come from sometimes the most unexpected places.

Gratitudesusan g. Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk fundraising gratitude

The appreciation that the fundraiser feels for his/her donors is as sincere an emotion as they come. With every step you take on your 60-mile adventure, you carry your donors with you.


Fundraising for the 3-Day is emotional, make no doubt about it. If you ever feel overwhelmed by any of these emotions, call the coaches at 800-996-3DAY. We’ve all been there, and we will always be there for you – to work through your worries, to overcome your obstacles, and to celebrate your victories.

What emotions have you experienced as a 3-Day fundraiser?

3-Day Guest Post – A Mother’s Day Training Walk

Liz P. is a blogger on the lifestyle blog “Prior Fat Girl”. She is also a mom and a Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker, and she joins us today for a guest post.

I’ve been training for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® for a few months now, although training has been somewhat limited since I lead a busy life (but really, who doesn’t?). So last week, when we hit the 16-week mark I bumped my training walks up. I am still not perfectly following the plan but I am making an effort each day.

According to the 16-week suggested training schedule, Mother’s Day called for a 5-mile walk and to be honest, I was not in the mood. After all it was Mother’s Day, and I wanted to relax. I also felt guilty for spending time away from my family on such a family-focused day.

I had to work that morning and then we headed to my in-laws’ house for the rest of the day. But I planned ahead and I brought my walking gear along so I would be prepared to go for a walk. (My Mother’s Day gift was even a hydration belt for my training!) After lunch and a nap with my baby, I knew that it was time to head off for a walk. In fact, I had cut it a bit too close to do a full 5 miles, but I did not let that stop me from doing something.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk liz paul prior fat girl training

Though rain was in the forecast it was a beautiful spring day in MN. There was a brisk wind that was both warm and cool at the same time. Flowers were blooming and lots of people were out enjoying the precious sunshine. Leaving my kids in their grandparents care, I headed out.

As I walked on Mother’s Day I thought about my Grandma – Ruth Ann Mercer. She died when I was a teenager after 8 years of breast cancer and then other types as it metastasized. My Grandma was an amazing woman. She went to college in her 50s because she’d always regretted not being able to go when she was young. She majored in philosophy!

She did not let anything stop her when she set her mind to something, which is part of the reason I believe she lived for 8 years with breast cancer. In the end it was her decision to stop treatment and I remember gathering with her for our last goodbyes. In many ways I was too young to really understand her choice at the time, and had no real insight to ask to hear her stories and knowledge. I wish I could know that now. I miss her.

susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk liz paul prior fat girl grandmother

With each step on Sunday, I thought about my Grandma. I thought about the chocolate chips she kept in the pots and pans drawer in her house, in case of an emergency chocolate fix. I thought about how she could sew anything out of anything. I thought about learning to play Gin Rummy with her.

And I thought about how I am not able to introduce her to my new daughter or how I cannot take a 4-generation picture of the strong women in my family because of breast cancer. But perhaps my daughter will see breast cancer eradicated in her lifetime, or perhaps I’ll see it myself. I walk because I want people to know their grandmas.

I didn’t quite manage the full 5 miles. I made it 3 miles before rain and the promise of Mother’s Day dinner at the in-laws beckoned. I didn’t manage every step, but I did get out there and I trained. Training is hard as a mother of two young children. Training is hard when holding a full-time job. Training is hard because it is hard. But it is not as hard as cancer.

So I walk on Mother’s Day to train for 60 miles. I walk for my Grandma. I walk for my daughter’s future.

3-Day Fundraising – Making a Difference, One Bottle at a Time

Jim Hillmann knows a thing or two about being a Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker. He has completed 28 Komen 3-Day events since 2008, including all 14 events in 2011. This year again, Jim is one of a handful of walkers participating in all seven 3-Day® events – an incredible commitment! Participating in so many walks means completing an impressive amount of fundraising, so Jim employs dozens of different tactics and strategies to reach his fundraising goals.

Susan g Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk jim hillmann

He shared the story behind one of his fundraising strategies: recycling for cash.

“In 2012, at the suggestion of a fellow 3-Day friend, I began raising funds through recycling CRV plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans. Although it began slowly with my first trip to the recycling center bringing in $45, the amounts gradually grew to $100, then $150 then $200 and more each trip to the recycle center.” Jim visits his local recycling center in San Jose, California about every 5-6 weeks. “In 2012, I raised $1050, then nearly $1500 in 2013 and I have already raised nearly $700 in 2014 so far, with the goal to break $2000 for the first time. Ultimately, I would like to raise enough to fully fund one 3-Day.”

Jim shared that the key to his success with raising 3-Day funds through recycling is not any different than what makes other fundraising methods successful: building a network of supporters. For his recycling efforts, he wasn’t content to just cash in whatever ended up in his own recycle bin. “What first began as two [collection] locations at work has now grown into four work locations, multiple people at church who save their recyclables, and a network of friends who do the same. The gym I work out at even allows me to have a recycling container that I collect twice a week.”

Komen_3Day_jim hillmann_recycle fundraising

Raising money for his 3-Day events is the biggest benefit of his recycling efforts, but it’s not the only benefit. “The super part, besides the funds raised, is that I also have the opportunity to spread more breast cancer awareness. Many people have asked why I am doing this, and asked if their help really matters even though it is only a ‘small bag’ of recyclables. When this happens, the door has been opened to tell them about our wonderful 3-Day community and all that it does for those affected by breast cancer.”

Jim has an inspiring perspective on the whole thing. “With our walks, sixty miles is a long distance to travel and we accomplish it by taking one step at a time over the course of three days, not sixty miles in one long step. I relate our walks to the recyclable fundraising, letting people know that a single given bottle may not seem like much, but bottle-by-bottle, can-by-can, they really do add up both in quantity and dollars. Through their individual gatherings, when combined with others, a huge difference is being made in people’s lives.”

We applaud Jim for his creativity and dedication to fundraising for the 3-Day. To date, he and his wonderful network of “co-collectors” have raised over $3200 total since 2012. As Jim puts it, “Not only are the streets and landfills a bit cleaner, but lives have been changed!”

Tell us about ways that you have engaged your community, and what creative fundraising strategies you have you tried!