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!

A Celebration of Mothers, with Dr. Sheri

Guest post by Dr. Sheri Prentiss, National Spokesperson for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®

In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought it’d be appropriate to share what I admired in my mother, and strive for as a mother myself. Many of us are lucky to have been influenced by amazing women that were also mothers. Let’s celebrate those wonderful women!

My mom Yvonne Springs was a strong, courageous woman who always put her children first. She worked hard to overcome life’s obstacles and set a good example for her four children. She never gave up.

To be a mother is a great commitment and sacrifice. Moms have the most challenging, but also the most rewarding, job in the world. Learning from my mother, I strive to be the best mom I can be through:

  • Always being there for my children, even when they are grown.
  • Supporting my children’s dreams, even when they seem impossible.
  • Defending my children against the world.
  • Going the extra mile, whenever needed.
  • Constantly and unconditionally loving my girls.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk dr. sheri prentiss mother's day

I walk for my two daughters who have blossomed into young women. I was so proud to walk in the 2013 Susan G. Komen Chicago 3-Day with both of my daughters when they participated in the Young Women Walking program. I’m thankful to the Val Skinner Foundation for sponsoring the YW2 program, which gives 16-23 year-old young women and men a chance to participate in one day of the Komen 3-Day and encourages them to take charge of their breast health.

As mothers, we would do just about anything for our children. For me, walking in as many 3-Day events as possible is a small price to pay (while having the best time of my life)!


“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Abraham Lincoln

“At Mile 1, I Found My BFF”

When a submission email for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® blog came in from Lisa C., I was immediately hooked by her subject line: “At Mile 1, I found my BFF.” Lisa, who is walking in the Komen 3-Day this year in San Diego, wrote, “I love surfing around on the 3-Day® website and have been inspired by the banners that read such things as: At Mile 20, I Found My Commitment; At Mile 34, I Found My Inspiration; At Mile 60, I Found My Strength, etc. This got me to thinking about what I found along the miles of my own 3-Day journey. The first thing that came to mind was: At Mile 1, I Found My BFF.”

In 2011, a friend approached Lisa about participating in the 3-Day and she agreed without hesitation. “I immediately said yes, [but not] because I knew anyone with breast cancer. I said yes because I love a challenge. I signed up right away.”

The friend who had recruited Lisa ultimately decided not to walk, but that didn’t stop Lisa from charging forward. “I threw myself into fundraising and training. I was a constant visitor to the Connections [Message Board] for the Twin Cities 3-Day. I was asking questions left and right and receiving responses. Finally, someone asked if I wanted to join Team Girlapalooza. It turns out that there were several lone walkers joining this team for various reasons that year.”

Team Girlapalooza met up early on Day 1 of the Twin Cities 3-Day, and after the Opening Ceremony, they started walking together. That’s where Lisa met a fellow Palooza, Marli.

Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk team girlapalooza friends

Lisa and Marli

Lisa describes their first meeting: “Have you ever met someone and it seems like you knew them forever? That’s how it was for me [and Marli]. Within the first mile, we found ourselves walking side-by-side, at the same pace. We began chatting.” They learned about each other’s lives, jobs, homes and families as they walked. Nothing like 60 miles to allow you to cover every topic under the sun!

Lisa also learned that Marli is quite camera-happy. “She was constantly stopping to take pictures of or with various landmarks, sunrises, sunsets, pit stops, fellow walkers, crew and safety personnel. By the end of the walk, I just had to hold out my hand for her camera. I just knew when she wanted a picture. She taught me to slow down and enjoy the journey, which was great because I am the type of person who would have put my head down and just plowed through.”

By Day 3, Lisa and Marli were as tight as could be, and were saddened to have to part ways (Lisa would head back to Wisconsin, Marli would be going home to Arizona). They agreed to walk the following year in Washington, D.C.—the home of Team Girlapalooza. “We kept in touch with each other via Facebook and a year later we found ourselves in D.C. We met a few days early and got in some sightseeing (yes we walked about 20 miles before the 60-mile walk!). During our trip we laughed at the same things, finished each other’s sentences and tripped over the same cracks in the sidewalk. We often found ourselves saying things like ‘I was just going to say that’ or ‘I was just thinking that!’” Lisa says they got so involved with talking and catching up that they missed seeing the White House and had to double back to take pictures.

It was around that time that Lisa found out about a friend’s breast cancer diagnosis. “I no longer was walking for myself but to honor Nancy’s struggle and determination to beat this disease. Knowing someone with breast cancer has made me much more aware of the struggles of others.”

Lisa and her 3-Day bestie Marli met again for the 2013 3-Day in Seattle but sadly, Lisa was unable to walk because of a broken foot. “I felt like I had failed. Marli was there to support me the entire time. She convinced me that I wasn’t quitting. I posted online that you know you are a 3-Dayer when you are laying in a hotel room on a comfy bed eating pizza but you really want to be eating mac and cheese and sleeping on the ground in a pink tent.”

Lisa, Marli and other Girlapalooza teammates will be reuniting for the 3-Day in San Diego later this year, and they both look forward to reconnecting and continuing their adventure.

Lisa wrapped up her story with a final thought: “So, for all of you first time walkers out there, know this: the Susan G. Komen 3-Day will change you in ways you never imagined. At Mile 1, I met my BFF.”


What have you found on the miles of the 3-Day? Tell us in comments!