Pink Soles in Motion – A Real Heart of Service

Jackie B. from Coppell, TX, knows that her story is not all that different from so many Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participants’ stories. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2005. A few months after the diagnosis, Jackie heard a commercial on the radio for the Komen 3-Day, and something clicked. For Jackie, part of it was the inspiration she felt from seeing her mom’s strength through her treatments, and part of it was the sobering the realization that now, breast cancer was part of her history too. She called her sister and said, “We’re going to do the 3-Day® in honor of Mom.”

They registered and called their team Pink Soles in Motion. That first year, it was just Jackie and her sister, but flash forward 9 years, to the 2014 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, and you’ll see a Pink Soles in Motion team with nearly 100 team members—including walkers, crew members, even Youth Corps members. They are the second largest team on the Dallas/Fort Worth event. That’s what I call motion.

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Jackie (back row, second from right) and just a few of her Pink Soles in Motion teammates

“What’s cool is, every year, you get a few that stay, then you get this new group, then you get some more,” Jackie said. “It’s been a wonderful ride for 9 years, and we don’t see ourselves stopping anytime soon.”

The strength and leadership within the ranks of the Pink Soles in Motion is clear, to the point that Jackie was able to “retire” as captain a few years ago. “We’ve got such strong people on this team, so we switched stuff around,” she says with a smile, and adds, “My second year, I was the only training walk leader on the team. I did every training walk, even the ones on Tuesdays and Thursdays! This year, we must have had 10 training walk leaders.”

After nearly a decade of such active involvement in the 3-Day world, I asked Jackie if anything still surprises her when she comes out to event. “I think it’s always, every year, you go along throughout the year, and then when you come together as a group, and you come to the Opening Ceremony and you’re reminded, ‘Oh, this is why we do this. This is what we’re all about.’ You hear the stories from the Ceremony this morning, briefly, for a few seconds, and you’re reminded.”

It’s that reminder that brings so many people back to the 3-Day year after year: the reality that, though progress is being made, we’re not there yet. Jackie agrees. “Every year we hear of someone else who succumbs to breast cancer, and we say, ‘That’s why we’re still out here.’ And people who have been involved with our team, then all of a sudden, they’re a survivor.” Pink Soles In Motion has nearly a dozen survivors within its ranks, several of whom sat nearby while I talked to Jackie at the Day 1 lunch stop, proudly wearing their Survivor tattoos on their cheeks.

For as strong a presence as the Pink Soles are on the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, they’re far from exclusive. “One of our favorite things to do—because we’re a big team, so we don’t all walk together as a group—is meet new folks. We have met so many people just in the first ten miles today. We love it. Hearing their stories. Why are they here?” Jackie mentioned a particular fondness for meeting solo walkers and welcoming them to the team. She looks around and wonders how many of the current Pink Soles started out as single walkers who they happened to meet along the way.

We’re briefly interrupted as the Pink Soles around us erupt with enthusiastic “Here’s Amy! She made it!” Another Sole-mate, returning to the fold. She reaches down to give Jackie a hug. “Amy’s been doing this a long time too. For some of us, we only see each other this one time a year. Sometimes, those who live in close proximity get together. But others, like Amy, we see her just for the walk, and we connect, especially at camp in the evenings, catch up.” The Dallas/Fort Worth event is where most of the team comes home to reunite each year, though, in the true spirit of this amazing team, they’ve also sent smaller versions of the team to other 3-Day cities over the years.

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Jackie, the original Pink Sole in Motion

For those team members who are local to the DFW area, their impact and influence in the breast cancer cause extends throughout the year, not just for these 3 days. “The support we get from the community is amazing. We’re adopted by the Coppell Fire Department every October. Pink Soles In Motion, for about 6 years, have gotten a proclamation from the city. We have a real appreciation, being recognized like that. This year, the mayor of Coppell said, they see Pink Soles In Motion as the ambassador for the city in the fight against breast cancer.” Jackie is proud of the fact that, as a large team, Pink Soles In Motion is able to hold large fundraising events out in the community, raising tremendous awareness along with money.

Nine years is a long history. I asked Jackie what she loves about the 3-Day and her team. “It changes your life forever. You end up going through all kinds of things. You become a big family. The people on this team have a real heart of service. That’s what you see out here. We learn perseverance, and it carries over into our daily lives. It wasn’t until my mother was diagnosed, and it was right in my face, that I really understood how people become passionate about a cause.”

In the case of Jackie and her Pink Soles In Motion teammates, passionate feels like an understatement.

 

 

One Big Celebration That Lasts for 3 Days – an Atlanta 3-Day Recap from Guest Blogger Cati S.

Cati Stone is the Executive Director for Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta, and a breast cancer survivor. This year, she was honored to be one of twenty individuals selected as Models of Courage in Ford’s Warriors in Pink® campaign, recognizing inspiring breast cancer survivors and co-survivors. And if all of those things don’t make Cati incredible enough, she has also been a faithful Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker for several years, and was nice enough to share some thoughts after walking in the Komen 3-Day in Atlanta earlier this month.

 

“This year marked my 4th time walking 60 miles in the Atlanta 3-Day. My amazing teammates from Team Diamond Stone (also known as the Boo Bees) have always included those closest to me: my Daddy, my sisters, my mother in law, my best girlfriends.  We talk all year long about preparing for the 3-Day.  We talk about fundraising and blisters and fundraising and logistics (and did I mention fundraising?).  We talk about how much fun we had the prior years and about how much fun we are going to have the next time.  And then the event happens, and we take a year’s worth of preparation and turn it into one big celebration that lasts for 3 days.  We celebrate my having beaten breast cancer, but we also celebrate birthdays and new babies and just about anything else we can think of.  We literally sing and dance our way down the street (this year’s dance du jour being the “Tight Pants Dance” from Jimmy Fallon’s show) and then come home at night and sing and dance some more.  We are loud and silly and we don’t care who knows it!  But we care deeply about finding a cure for breast cancer.  In fact, this year we were recognized as the 9th largest fundraising team for the Atlanta 3 Day!  In our 4 years, we have raised over $100,000, and we’re not finished yet!susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog cati stone models of courage warriors in pink atlanta

“A highlight to this year’s walk included walking with some very special new friends – Aimee, Tracy and Karen, all of whom are fellow breast cancer survivors and Ford Models of Courage.  We all met last spring when Ford brought us together to be a part of their amazing Warriors in Pink program that raises money for breast cancer (over $125 million so far!).  I fell in love with these ladies instantly, and walking with them in this year’s 3-Day heightened the entire experience for me.  They are true warriors.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog cati stone models of courage warriors in pink atlanta

“Tracy’s daughter made this video to show what the 3 Day meant to her, and I think it sums things up nicely.   It truly is a beautiful experience.  http://youtu.be/9eDpqj76FgE

Thank you, Cati, for sharing your experience with us! We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta again next year!

Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s

With their pink head boppers, pink boas and pink tutus, the three members of team Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s look like many other walkers on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. Talk with them, and their stories are also very familiar – they walk for loved ones and fellow coworkers who have been lost to cancer or who are survivors. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover a company who so whole-heartedly backs its associates that in 2014, they will make the single-largest donation to a Komen 3-Day team….ever.

Pacesetters Big Ol’ Shanty’s at the Susan G. Komen Atlanta 3-Day

Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s at the Susan G. Komen Atlanta 3-Day

The Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s get their name from the amazing company they work for, Pacesetter Steel Service, which happens to be located on Big Shanty Road in Kennesaw, GA. Steve Leebow founded Pacesetter Steel Service in 1977. As a young man, Steve worked in his family’s steel distribution center in New Jersey, where his passion for the industry was cultivated. By 1977, Steve ventured out and opened his own company in Atlanta, GA. Through the first 10 years, a small but dedicated group of Pacesetter associates established a steady routine of long hours, customer focus, and teamwork to grow the company. Many associates who helped build Pacesetter from its early beginnings still work for the company. Aviva Leebow, Steve’s daughter, was recently named the new CEO of Pacesetter Steel Service.

It’s Aviva who started the 3-Day team in 2013. “My grandmother, Joan Leebow, died at the age of 44 from breast cancer,” Aviva begins. “I never knew her. I grew up inspired by her story and everything I learned about her. Her world was focused on caring, sharing and giving. For my 30th birthday, I wanted to do something impactful. I chose the 3-Day. This is something she absolutely would have loved to have seen. I’ve always wanted to walk in her honor.”

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While her grandmother was her original inspiration for wanting to walk the Atlanta 3-Day, Aviva mentions a number of other loved ones – including fellow Pacesetter associates – who have been lost to cancer. So last year, she started a small but mighty team with one fellow coworker, Corri Green. “Half way through the walk last year, Corri and I looked at each other and said, ‘We are doing this next year,’” laughs Aviva. So here they are in 2014 – hitting the pavement again, and they’ve gained a third team member, their friend, Jessi Whittemore.

 So far this season, Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s has raised nearly $10,000. Both Aviva and Corri applaud the company and acknowledge that they couldn’t do this without their support. Their fellow Pacesetter associates hold fundraisers for months leading up to the event, giving of their time, their money and their support for these women who will walk 60 miles over three days.  On Friday, all Associates at Pacesetter headquarters took an aerial photo of themselves using a droid, rooting the team on to keep the team motivated while walking.  And Steve believes so much in the power of teamwork and in the Susan G. Komen mission that he is going to make sure Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s raises at least $50,000 this year. Utilizing money from a fund created in memory of Claudia B. Waters, Pacesetter wrote a check to the 3-Day for more than $40,000.

Founder Steve Leebow shares the very touching reasons behind Pacesetters generous donation.

Founder Steve Leebow shares the very touching reasons behind Pacesetter’s generous donation.

Steve visited the Atlanta campsite on Saturday night to share a little about why he is giving so generously to the 3-Day. “Fifteen years ago, one of our very first associates in our company, Claudia B. Waters, had the misfortune of getting breast cancer. And the entire company pulled together to try to do whatever we could to help her face the challenge,” Steve recounts. “Our many years of friendship with Claudia truly touched our lives. Her vitality was a constant source of encouragement to each Pacesetter associate, our suppliers and our customers. We miss her steadfastness, her dedication, her life.”

Aviva asks that we also recognize that there are many other Pacesetter associates who have battled breast cancer as well as Pacesetter family members.

As Aviva tends to some hot spots on her feet at Lunch on Day 2 of the 2014 Atlanta 3-Day, she describes an experience the team had a few miles earlier. “We were in Whole Foods and a woman saw us coming out of the bathrooms with our pink tutus,” she shares. “She came up to us and said, ‘I’m officially clear as of 11 days ago! Thank you for walking.’ It’s those moments when you know and see the effect this walk has. It makes it all worth it.”

Corri agrees. “We’ve already committed ourselves to next year,” she says with a big smile.

Thank you, Pacesetters Steel Service and team Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s. You are helping bring us closer to a world without breast cancer.

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