A Journey of Strength, Purpose and Inspiration – by Guest Blogger Nikia B.

In July, Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day coach Gayla emailed me some pictures from a walk-and-talk she had just done with a first-time walker named Nikia B. The photos showed Gayla and Nikia posing with the the various Komen 3-Day posters they spotted as they enjoyed a 5+ mile stroll around a Dallas-area mall (ah, air conditioning!). Even before Gayla told me any details about Nikia or her story, I was struck by the images and Nikia’s energy. When Gayla later told me a little bit about Nikia, I knew we needed to have her tell her story – starting with her own breast cancer diagnosis at age 16, and leading all the way up to those poster photos in the mall. So we asked her, and she agreed! Prepare to be inspired by this amazing young woman.

We’re less than 90 days away from the Susan G. Komen Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, and I could not be more excited to join the thousands of women and men who have experienced the pure magic of the Komen 3-Day. This year in particular will be special for me because it marks 20 years in my own battle against breast cancer.

In some ways it feels like only yesterday when I first encountered breast cancer at the age of 16. I’ll never forget the moment that I first felt that lump in my breast. No family history. No known patients or survivors in my life. I felt like a complete alien, and I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. I simply don’t have words for the fear and grief that tried to rob me of my youth. But recently, while out walking with Dallas/Fort Worth coach Gayla, I ran across a some 3-Day® posters in our local mall that reminded me of what pulled me through my journey, and what I hope to instill into others as I walk. The words that stood out on the posters were Strength, Purpose, and Inspiration.

Strength - The truth is, none of us really know what we’re made of until we’re put into a position to prove it. At the young age of 16, I was forced to make a decision to LIVE and not let my diagnosis define what kind of life I would have. The surgery, treatment and subsequent challenges were undeniably life-defining, but not necessarily in the way you might suppose. Up until the point of my diagnosis, I let life “happen to me,” but I quickly realized how precious life was, and it made me decide that I needed to be the one to make life happen. Somewhere along the way, I found the strength to set my own course and determine what future I wanted to see. Step by step, I’m seeing it unfold, indescribably and beautifully, before my eyes!

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Coach Gayla (left) with Nikia, a walking, talking image of strength

 

Purpose - There’s something about staring breast cancer in the face and living through it that made me realize that nothing about life is coincidental or absent of meaning. In fact, I realized quickly that starting from the moment of my diagnosis, I could find purpose in even the most challenging moments of my journey. We all can. Purpose helps us to define and find meaning in the situations and circumstances in our lives that would otherwise make us feel hopeless. Purpose helps us to channel our emotions and frustrations when life isn’t quite going our way and reminds us that what we’re going through educates, empowers and encourages someone else. In fact, I believe our greatest purpose is only realized when we’ve helped someone else get to the place that we’ve come through.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog nikia dallas fort worth purpose

 

Inspiration - I never would have climbed out of bed on the tough days if it weren’t for something nudging me, provoking me and inspiring me to find a reason to fight to see another day. For some, it’s a child, a loved one or spouse. For others it’s a spiritual power that centers and empowers them. Whatever the source, everyone needs to find their reason to keep going – it serves as fuel for uphill journeys and marathon missions. My inspiration was a combination of my faith and my family. My gratitude for my life and purpose in this world, motivated me to fight for my presence on this earth for years to come.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog nikia dallas fort worth inspiration

This November, when I embark upon my first-ever 3-Day, I will pull from all the strength, purpose and inspiration I have ever felt and received. I hope to channel it into every step I take, remembering the countless lives that have been lost to this horrible disease. But more than that, with every step I take, I will reflect on the incredible opportunity I’ve been given to use my life and experience to help others. I will walk with a renewed sense of my obligation to be a voice and a hope for those who have lost theirs along the way. I plan to walk every step of my 60-mile journey in appreciation of this wonderful thing called life–a life that I look forward to one day living in a world without breast cancer.

 

Thank you, Nikia! We look forward to sharing the 3-Day with you in November!

Part 5 of the ABCs of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Crew

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of the ABC’s of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Crew! We’ve shared letters A – E, F – J, K – O, P – T, and this week, we’re excited to bring you the final six letters. Please tell us your ideas for each letter here or on Facebook, and share these images with your family and friends. (To see the Komen 3-Day walker version of the ABC’s, click here!)

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer university training

Crew University is a series of recorded, online training sessions designed to get 3-Day® crew members up to speed on what the 3-Day is all about, and provide details about their specific crew jobs. All 3-Day crew members have access to Crew U. in their Participant Centers, and are encouraged to watch the recordings that apply to them before they come to the All Crew Kick-off.

 

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer Every 3-Day crew member is a volunteer (they’re paid in hugs, high fives and heartfelt gratitude) who works all three days of the event, but there are also numerous other volunteer opportunities for folks who may not be able to fulfill the full crew commitment. From outreach and recruitment, to training and motivating participants, to on-event roles and responsibilities, there is a volunteer program to fit your schedule, skills and passions on the 3-Day.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer western shelterTo most walkers, they may just look like pink-covered beacons you see from afar, telling you that you’ve reached a stop at last. But to a 3-Day crew member, these open-air tents, called Western Shelters, are an essential part of the pit stops, grab & go’s and lunch stop. Crew members work together to quickly and safely assemble the structures, ensuring that your beloved grahamwiches are kept shaded.

See also: Walkie-talkies

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer x tent sectionThe 3-Day camp is divided into tent sections to help participants find their little pink homes amidst a sea of tents. Crew members “live” in section X and Y, which are kept a little bit separate from the walker sections (so the crew members, with their early mornings and late nights, don’t bother the sleeping walkers).

See also: eXcellence (one of the “STEPS” that make up the foundation of the 3-Day Crew culture and philosophy)

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer youth corpsThe 3-Day Youth Corps is a select group of young people (10-16 years old) who participate as crew members on the event. The yellow-shirted Youth Corps members attend the entire 3-Day event (accompanied by a small group of adult leaders), camp with the participants and complete a multitude of important tasks both on the route and in camp (the most important of which is enthusiastically cheering on the walkers). The Youth Corps is the only crew team that is required to fundraise; each Youth Corps member must raise at least $500 by the time of their event in order to participate and most kids exceed the minimum by leaps and bounds.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer zip tiesDuct tape is great, but on the 3-Day, the go-to tools for holding stuff together–from route arrows to pit stop decorations to event signage—are zip ties.

 

We’ve reached the end of the alphabet, but the conversation doesn’t have to stop! Tell us what those 26 letters mean to you, as a walker, crew member or supporter!

2014 Twin Cities Susan G. Komen 3-Day Wrap Up

This weekend, Twin Cities was filled with the power of pink as the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® passed through the many beautiful neighborhoods of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Though Friday morning started with gloomy skies, the brightness and enthusiasm couldn’t be dampened by the clouds. Dr. Sheri led us through a rallying and an inspiring Opening Ceremony at the Southdale Center in Edina, and from there, Komen 3-Day walkers began their magnificent journey and were soon welcomed to a New Orleans “Mardi Bras” themed pit stop at the beautiful Utley Park.IMG_9144

The Lake Harriet Band Shell was the first cheering station, and the Twin Cities Community came out in full force, complete with cheerleaders, candy, and coffee stations. Onward through Minneapolis, walkers and crew enjoyed a cheering station at the Parade Ice Garden and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Walkers took a lunch break at the lovely Loring Park, and after lunch, it was onwards to another pumped-up cheering station at B.H. Nelson Park, with impressive views of Minneapolis. After an incredible 18.6 miles, walkers and crew arrived at camp in Harvest Park in Maplewood, and during camp show, we got to meet the Twin Cities 3-Day top fundraisers and Milestone Award Winner, in addition to playing some fun games and hearing from an inspirational survivor, Sue N., who motivated us to start strong on Day 2.

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Day 2 on the the 3-Day® route started with balmy skies and cloud cover, and the friendly Twin Cities community came out in full support complete with puppies and babies in pink tutus at Holiday Inn Express cheering station. Vadnais Lake gave sore legs and tired minds some serenity, and a rocking cheering station at Ramsey County Island Park, complete with cheerleaders, helped our walkers put an extra pep in their step. The community came out again to rally walkers at Acorn Park in Roseville, and then, even conquering a few hills before lunch on Gramsie in Shoreview couldn’t dampen the excitement for lunch at Island Lake Elementary School.

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After hydrating and eating, walkers strolled across bridges at the picturesque Gervais Mill Park before heading back to Camp, where we heard from more amazing members of our 3-Day family, including Cassie of team Cassie’s Cups, who’s currently fighting breast cancer for the third time. Her moving story set the stage for Sisters Ashley H. and Nicole L., who again reminded us of the many reasons why we walk.  We ended the night with stars lighting up the sky as the 3-Day Dance Party kicked off, and then it was back into our pink tents for some serious slumber before taking on Day 3.

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A little bit of rain came down before Day 3 officially began, but the skies cleared up just in time to reveal brilliant blue skies, thick humidity, and a shining sun for our last 17.5 miles. The community came out to support the walkers at Northwood Park, passing out popsicles and iced coffee that were joyfully accepted by our strong walkers. The cloud cover lasted through Beaver Lake Park, where a serene lake shimmered in the distance as upbeat music kept our walkers pumped. Next on the route was Indian Mounds Park, and walkers were treated to sweeping views of the St. Paul skyline.

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After a beautiful photo opportunity sitting on Jody’s Couch, a Twin Cities 3-Day landmark for the past nine years, walkers moved on to pit stop 3.  Walkers fueled up and ‘rotated their socks’ at the 3-Day Speedway themed pit stop. The last few miles of the route stretched through beautiful downtown St. Paul, ending at the Minnesota State Capitol where the white and gold dome of the capitol building gleamed in the sun. Our 750 walkers, 225 crew members, and volunteers victoriously marched through the courtyard, and reminded us once again why these 60 miles and 3 days are so very important. The crowd of walkers, crew, volunteers and supporters danced joyously together, and celebrated an incredible $2 million dollars raised.

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