Over the Hill: Conquering Day 2 on a Twin Cities Hill

Day two of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®  in the Twin Cities has come to an end, and all day, we enjoyed balmy weather with cloud cover that kept the sun’s rays tucked away. This cooler weather was much appreciated as walkers closed in on an awesome 22.5 miles, through scenic sites like the Gervais Mill Park, where reflections of pink gleamed upon the lily-pad studded pond. One of the more challenging parts of today’s Komen 3-Day route was a hilly patch on Gramsie Road that stretched through Shoreview. We trekked up the hill a few times alongside the walkers, and captured some of their reactions as they conquered the incline. Here’s what they had to say!

Walkers rockin' the hill on Gramsie Road in Twin Cities

Walkers rockin’ the hill on Gramsie Road in Twin Cities

  • “They’re not gonna make us walk up this hill, right?”
  • Someone yells, “This is the last hill of the day!” A walker responds, “You’re a liar!”
  • “There better be grahamwiches after this.”
  • “It’s all downhill from here!”
  • “You don’t want to know what I think about this hill.”
  • “Once you go up… you gotta come down!”
  • “You can’t write what I want to say.”
  • “At least it’s not the last two miles.”
  • “You know what’s worse than walking up a hill on the 3-Day? Swallowing a bug walking up a hill on the 3-Day.”
  • “Glad I’m going up and not down.”
  • “It’s not too bad.” (Friend replies, “Wait till he gets to the top.”)
  • “Are there any flat lands in this state?”
  • “It’s almost over!”

And our favorite…

  • “We can do it!”

We know that our amazing 3-Day® walkers and crew will never give up… on hills, or in the fight to end breast cancer.

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Congratulations to George N., the Twin Cities 3-Day Milestone Award Winner!

Congratulations to George Nummer, the Susan G. Komen Twin Cities 3-Day Milestone Award winner! George is in his 11th year of involvement with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, on his 32nd event, and has raised over $81,000 in his life towards fighting breast cancer.

George takes on Day 2 of the Twin Cities 3-Day

George takes on Day 2 of the Twin Cities 3-Day

George has walked the Komen 3-Day in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas / Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Twin Cities, and Washington D.C. (whew!). In 2007, George walked all twelve 3-Day® events, and with every step George takes, he’s helping to spread the message that early detection is key. Along the route yesterday, he spoke with 14 women who promised they would get mammograms. At the Camp Show last night, George asked women in the audience to raise their hands and promise that they would get mammograms. This passionate advocacy for detection has already saved one life, as George tells the story of a young women who got a mammogram despite her insurance not covering it because she wasn’t 40. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and thanked George for encouraging her to get screened. Because they caught it early, it was treatable. As he likes to say, “What’s more important: the money or your life?”

Fundraising $81,000 is no small feat, and George has fine-tuned his fundraising strategies over the years. “I was hesitant the first time I ever fundraised, and I put in a lot of my own money,” he said. One of George’s favorite ways to raise money is by writing letters. “I send a couple hundred letters out a year,” he said. He also recommends that you get creative with your fundraising. George is a retired electrician and started working side jobs for donations. He also learned to talk to people on training walks and to tell them about his fundraising goals. “Ask for a donation. All they can do is say no – you’d be surprised how many people will donate to you!” George has also sold buttons and badges for fundraising.

George sells buttons and badges for his fundraising efforts.

George sells buttons and badges for his fundraising efforts.

There’s no doubt that seeing George’s smiling face around both Michigan and Twin Cities this year has been a joy for many participants, evident in the numerous photo opps George has been a part of. George’s advice to other 3-Dayers? “Don’t make a race out of it. Take your time, stop and smell the roses, talk to people.”

“After I finish this walk, I’ll be 20 miles short of my 2,000 mile mark. So I signed up for Michigan for next year – after Day 1, I’ll have my 2,000 miles,” George said. We’re grateful for George and every mile he’s walked with our wonderful 3-Day family, helping us get one step closer to ending breast cancer forever.

Meet Mullet Pig: A Twin Cities 3-Day Celebrity

While you’re out on the route on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, you’ll meet all kinds of people: some first-timers with butterflies in their tummies, some seasoned veterans who approach 20 miles like a quick afternoon stroll. You’ll meet dedicated crew members who donate their time and talents in a multitude of ways, from remedying your blisters to keeping you safe and on track. You’ll meet members of the community who come out adorned in every shade of pink, ready to hand you frozen grapes, a cold drink, a new button, or just to cheer you on. There’s no doubt that this wide variety of people, from every walk of life, is what makes the Komen 3-Day family so incredible. Today, I had the opportunity to meet Dave P., a police officer from Wisconsin who, on the 3-Day®, is known as “Mullet Pig.” Dave is a local celebrity on the Twin Cities event; in fact, in the short time I spoke with him, he was approached for three selfies with participants.  Dave is on the Twin Cities Route Safety crew team for the sixth time this year; it his 7th 3-Day (he walked once as part of the 60 Mile Men team), and last year, he crewed in San Francisco as well. Mullet Pig also has his own Facebook profile, and he lovingly calls his fans the “Bacon Nation.”

Mullet Pig poses for a photo after taking a selfie with a fan!

Mullet Pig poses for a photo after taking a selfie with a fan!

Though we can’t see his feet, Dave tells us about his “10 little piggies”, which are his polished toenails wiggling to the beat of the music blasting at today’s lunch stop. Each toe is painted for someone in his life who has battled breast cancer. “I have 10 relatives that have been affected by breast cancer. Seven are survivors, and three are pink angels. My mother was a 32 year survivor who passed away two years ago. It’s hard to be sad about that, I got 32 more years with her… She owes her 32 years to research and the things that Komen does.” Dave’s grandmother was also diagnosed with breast cancer, and his sister is a survivor.

Besides his deeply personal connection to the cause, what keeps Dave coming back year after year is the 3-Day community. “I’ve known so many people and you get to know everyone as the family. We’re a family.”

When people ask Mullet Pig why he does what he does, he says that he does it for the little boost he can give someone that just might make their day. Dave tells us about a participant he encountered last year who told him that every day, she had seen a sign from her father who had passed away. On the last day, she was a mile from finishing and hadn’t yet seen a sign that her dad was with her that day. She turned the corner, and there was Mullet Pig, loudly singing her dad’s favorite song. “That’s why I do what I do. I never know what I’m going to do, and how it’s going to affect someone, so I just do my best to do something. I like to put a smile on people’s faces.”

Pucker up!

Pucker Up!

Dave describes many other ways he gives people a boost–from the shockingly pink lipstick kiss mark he’ll place on your cheek, to walking the last mile with weary walkers who think that they just can’t go on. As Dave grooves to “Sexy Back,” I ask him how and why he chose the name Mullet Pig. In 2008, after a crew event, he and his wife went shopping for 3-Day decorations. “I went by the dollar bin and saw something pink and pulled out this pig mask. I also grabbed a pink wig, and tied it to the end of the mask. I start wearing it, and all of a sudden people start calling me Pig Man. Everyone was calling me Pig Man. I didn’t like Pig Man, so I told this guy to think of another name. ‘Well, you’re a pig with a mullet,’ he said. ‘Mullet pig!’ And that’s how Mullet Pig was born.”

As another loving fan from the Bacon Nation approaches Mullet Pig for a photo, I ask him if there’s anything else he’d like to add. With his trademark pig mask tucked behind one ear, he says, “We’ve come too far to quit. There are other people that can’t quit. We have to keep going. We do this for the survivors. For the ones that can’t walk. We’ve come this far. We have to keep going.” With the help of people like Mullet Pig, we will.

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Mullet Pig guiding participants to Opening Ceremony on Day 1 of the Twin Cities 3-Day