If walkers are the “soul” of the 3-Day, the extraordinary 3-Day Crew can best be described as the heart! They arrive the day before the event to decorate sweep vans, mark the route and commit to their 3-Day pledge to care for those of us who have the easy job of walking 60 miles over 3 days!
Men always have a thing about being “real.” The Los Angeles Raiders used to say, “Real Men Wear Black.” That’s understandable since black is often associated with masculinity. For the past four months, however, I have met more ‘real’ men wearing pink than I ever thought possible. Who are these guys? They are men enough to cry when they talk about a wife they lost. They are men enough to put an arm around a stranger on a 60-mile walk. And yes, they are men enough to wear a pink tutu and walk down the streets of Dallas/Fort Worth.
That’s a real man for you.
“I don’t mind wearing pink!” said Tom, early on Day 2 before the walk started. “My wife is a breast cancer survivor, and I have had many other friends who have battled the disease. I teach school and I’ve been wearing pink shoelaces for about a year now.” Tom was asked to carry a flag in honor of his wife in the Opening Ceremony.
Frank was dressed in the blue colors of Team Tiara. “They had adopted me into their team!” he explained at the beginning of the route on Day 1. He also toted the cutout of a dear friend and walker who unfortunately was undergoing surgery on Day 1 of the 3-Day even though she had already raised her money to walk. Affectionately dubbed “Flat Janice” the team carried these “flat” cutouts of their teammate to tote her along for the long walk. Frank seemed pretty content with his adopted team.
Mark and Jason looked like two linebackers as they strolled into Pit Stop 3 yesterday on the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. They could have sacked the entire group of Bank of America employees who had gathered to cheer on the walkers. They were walking fast and had met each other on the route, but had different reasons to walk 60 miles. “I’m walking so my 14-year girl doesn’t have to worry about cancer!” said Mark. Jason was ‘taking the place’ of his wife who wanted to walk but could not. These were not the usual pink-clad walkers you see on a Komen 3-Day weekend. The two men wore their comfortable gear, but accented themselves with pink, including a baseball hat that read: “Real Men Wear Pink.”
Even Youth Corps enthusiast Eli got involved because of his grandfather. “My grandpa actually died from breast cancer,” said Eli at the lunch stop for the walkers. Eli had to raise $500 and go through a rigorous interview process to be accepted into the Youth Corps, which supports the event. Eli’s youth group is identified by their brilliant yellow shirts, with of course, some excellent pink highlights.
Father and son combo Frankie and Nathaniel stood out to me on the early morning of Day 1. They were not surrounded by a large team of women. They had not been invited to walk with a group. They were just out alone, to walk for their wife and mother. It was clear that the walk meant quite a bit for them. “By doing this walk,” said Frankie, “we can do something about it. We can have our say!”
Frankie and son Nathaniel represent all the men who pick up the pink banner and join the hundreds and hundreds of women and men who walk to fight breast cancer this weekend in Dallas/Fort Worth. Thank the men in pink this weekend on your Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day event!
“I was terrified to walk alone,” said Christina at lunch on Day 1 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in Tampa Bay this year. “It wasn’t the 60 miles that worried me; it was the large teams that were very organized.” It’s true. The Komen 3-Day participants sometimes have large teams that sometimes incorporate scores of walkers and their coordinated outfits which can turn heads on the streets of any American city. “I heard Stephaney say she was alone walking, and I said: ‘Me too!’”
The two were handed pink balloons by an onlooker, so by lunch, I assumed they were walking together anyway. I was surprised to find out they started alone – and that it was their first time participating. Stephaney is walking for her mother who is now a 5-year survivor of breast cancer. “I saw a commercial on TV when I was getting ready for work earlier this year, and thought that I needed to celebrate my mother’s health!” Both Stephaney and Christina were raised in ‘military’ families, both Air Force, so they quickly realized they had a lot to talk about.
Christina’s mother is currently in treatment. “I loved the Opening Ceremony,” said Christina. “I tried not to cry.” The Tampa Bay 3-Day opened with a bang on Friday morning in Sand Park, and a glorious sunrise accented the booming cheers of the celebration. Christina was brought to the 3-Day by her father’s ‘shenanigans.’ She mentioned, “We always knew about the walk, but this year, my father expressed interest. He then only helped ME with the fundraising! I was in the top ten for fundraising!” Walkers have to raise $2300 to participate in the 60-mile walk, and most find creative strategies to fundraise. “We opened up donations from my father’s work, and they were more than generous.” By Day 3, they still had pink balloons, explaining that since the beginning, it had become their thing. One of the girl’s father went to a balloon shop to revive the symbol of their new ‘team.’ “The guy at the balloon shop just gave them to us, considering what we were doing!” the girls explained. They had written their mascots’ names on the balloons: ‘Wilson’ and ‘Henry Jr.’ (The movie reference from the Tom Hanks film was apparent, but evidently ‘Henry Jr’ is just a loving nickname.)
They are anticipating some strong family support today at Closing Ceremony in Tampa Bay. Congratulate Stephaney and Christina on their first time walks this weekend!