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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June Meet-up Round-up!

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is halfway over! Here in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® world, this means that we’re even closer to the start of the event season, and Komen 3-Day walkers and crew members are busy preparing with training walks, meet-ups and clinics. The 3-Day® will be here before we know it! Take a look at some of our local events from June.

Michigan

Members of two of Michigan’s largest teams, The BC Babes and the Hines Pink Pathers, joined forces to get to know each other a little better on a beautiful June training walk. susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june training michigan

Twin Cities

Twin Cities walkers came out on June 28th to attend a Packing Workshop held at TC Running Co. in Eden Prairie. They learned some tips to make their 3-Day camping experience easy, comfortable and fun! New friendships were made, tenting partners were found and all enjoyed some delightful discounts off clothing and gear. They are ready to go!Komen_3Day_june_twin cities_get packed clinic

Seattle

The Komen Puget Sound Race for the Cure took place on Sunday, June 1 at Seattle Center. There were over 7,000 participants this year, and 3-Day coaches Aubrey and Jon saw lots of 3-Day faces there. The weather held out and we had a beautiful event with lots of sunshine and plenty of friends. susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june seattle puget sound race for the cure

Atlanta

Stone Mountain Park – the site of the Atlanta 3-Day Opening Ceremony – was the setting for a beautiful morning training walk. Coach Tara enjoyed some company with a great group of motivated ladies who walk there almost every weekend. susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june stone mountain training walk

We discovered a new Walk & Talk path and some wonderful new walkers to join us. It was a very humid night, but we all made it and even enjoyed getting some training in on the hills. susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june atlanta training lawrenceville

Dallas/Fort Worth

Coach Gayla rocks her signature selfie at this Walk & Talk in Richardson. susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june dallas fort worth training

Eight walkers showed up for a Get Prepped Clinic in Rockwell, hosted by our friends at New Balance.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june get prepped clinic dallas fort worth rockwall

Nothing could dampen the spirits of Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day team Pink Soles in Motion, who trained right through the North Texas flooding rains on June 22nd. On their walk, they met a young woman who was holding a rummage sale to raise money for her friend who was recently diagnosed. It was a poignant reminder of why they walk.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june dallas fort worth pink soles in motion rain trainingsusan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june dallas fort worth pink soles in motion rain training rummage sale

We had a great casual meet-up with new and veteran walkers at The Londoner in Frisco.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june dallas fort worth meet up londoner frisco

San Diego

Thirty-five wonderful walkers attended a Walk & Talk with Cliff’s Crew and friends in Fullerton. susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june san diego fullerton cliffs crew

San Diego 3-Day coach Kim hopped in on a training walk in Daley Ranch. As Kim put it, “Sometimes we just want some dirt under our feet!”susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june san diego daley ranch training

We had a great Walk & Talk in Encinitas – gorgeous day, 6 amazing miles and 15 fabulous people. susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june san diego encinitas training walk

Bonus Meet-ups!

Chicagoland – As a special thank you for their dedication to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, coaches Jennifer and Eileen hosted a Chicagoland 3-Day gathering on Thursday, June 5th in Park Ridge, IL. It was a night of fun, friendship and laughs. We had a wonderful time celebrating with our Chicagoland 3-Day community.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june chicagoland reunion

Tampa – Atlanta coach Tara ventured further south to the Sunshine State for a Walk & Talk with some Tampa Bay walkers, including members of Team 211. It was a morning walk along the Bayshore with 20 amazing women, and the morning included a beautiful sunrise, muffins, stingray sightings and a surprise birthday party for Team 211’s captain Sylvia—cake included, of course! Tara shared, “This team really is family, and I was so honored to be welcomed in and even invited back. They are working hard to keep the Tampa walkers engaged and excited to make their travels to other 3-Day cities.”susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june tampa team 211susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk june tampa

 

Looking to find a meet-up in your area? Check out the 3-Day calendar of events here.

“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!

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