Coaches’ Favorite Moments from 2014 – Part 1

Every one of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® coaches has countless inspiring and moving interactions with our amazing Komen 3-Day walkers and crew members. I asked them to relive some of their most touching memories from the 2014 3-Day® season.

Gayla Cruikshank (Dallas/Fort Worth Local Events Coach) – I am honored to know so many outstanding Susan G. Komen 3-Day walkers and crew who work literally all year long to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer while still taking care of their own careers and families. It’s a true privilege to be a part of an organization that helps so many people.

One of my greatest memories of 2014 is being backstage before Opening Ceremony with the survivors and the participants who carried memorial photos and honor flags. The energy and hugs were amazing! The stories and tears were emotional and inspiring, like Lisa L., walking in her memory of her daughter Sasha, who died at age 26.gayla backstage 2

I was inspired by 80-year-old Ralph M, who has walked for three years and has raised over $11,000. He recently asked me how he could help a friend who has been re-diagnosed with breast cancer and needed help. I sent him to the local Komen North Texas Affiliate and within a few hours they were able to connect her with a grantee who will assist her with her insurance and treatments. Even beyond his work with the 3-Day, Ralph is helping others daily.dfw ralph

I also had such a great time having my own family members on the event this year (my 16-year-old Codi participated with Young Women Walking, and my 23-year-old daughter Darcy and my mom, Doy, crewed the Ta-Ta Towing sweep van).

Paula Hultman (Seattle Participant Coach) – San Diego walker Lori B. registered for the 3-Day just weeks before the event. She is a survivor and first-time walker who was determined to do whatever it took to reach her fundraising goal and walk in her first 3-Day. Unfortunately, Lori’s dad passed away suddenly about 3 weeks before the 3-Day was to take place, and Lori’s attention immediately was redirected to her family. I spoke with her and told her to focus on her family, and suggested she postpone her 3-Day journey to 2015. Lori wouldn’t have it. She was more determined than ever to reach her fundraising goal and participate – for herself, and now in her father’s memory. And that’s exactly what she did! She called after her event and said the 3-Day was more amazing than she could have ever imagined.  Lori is my 2014 San Diego 3-Day hero – and she is already registered and fundraising for 2015!Lori Brown 2

Ann Love (Michigan Local Events Coach) – I think my most memorable moment was being backstage as the folks who were carrying memorial photos in Opening Ceremony saw the enlarged pictures of their loved ones for the first time. There were tears and smiles and hugs. All the memories, happy and sad, that those pictures brought out in the participants and then the support offered by their fellow participants as well as all the staff that was back there – it’s why I love the event. It’s not always easy, but there’s always someone to lift you up when you need it.

Eileen Barnick (Twin Cities Participant Coach) – There are so many great memories and I can’t remember them all now!  I do know that it changed over the course of the year. Every time I hit a highlight, there was another one right behind it! Some of them included: finally meeting in person the friends I had met over the phone during the course of the season; registering a very nervous “I am not sure I can fundraise” participant eight weeks before our event and then seeing her become the number two fundraiser; meeting participants on our event who told me I was the reason they were there; getting camp mail in San Diego from one of the full-series walkers, thanking me for what I do each day. There were also some moments that gave me goosebumps and broke my heart, such as hearing Ashley and Nicole tell their story on stage in the Twin Cities, and seeing one of our long time Twin Cities participants being pushed into Closing Ceremony in a wheelchair, knowing that her remaining days were short. She passed away in October.

And of course the biggest highlight was being on event in so many cities this year and seeing first-hand the amazing people who are making a difference in others’ lives every day.

Jon Lueders (Seattle Crew & Volunteer Coordinator) – We had a walker in Seattle named Dena who was celebrating the fact that she made it through Day 1 by literally jumping for joy at the finish line. But she landed wrong and hurt her knee to the point of being unable to walk the rest of the event. I was approached and asked if we could allow her husband to push Dena in a wheelchair the rest of the weekend. I of course was happy to oblige, to the joy and relief of both husband and wife.

As this was a happy yet fleeting moment, I was pleasantly surprised when I got to see Dena later in the event series. Even with her injury, she was determined to walk an entire 3-Day event this year, and got back to work rehabbing and training for the San Diego 3-Day. Unfortunately, her injury worsened, and was unable to walk once again. But this did not stop her from making the trip to San Diego to support her team. When I had the chance to speak with her, she said something to the effect of “Of course I was going to be here to support my team. They supported me when I was hurt in Seattle, I want to pay it back.” This, for me, just solidified the dedication we find on event. Not just the dedication to walk and raise funds, but the dedication each walker feels to their 3-Day family.

The 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day Series, By the Numbers

Seven locations. 420 miles. More than 8,500 walkers, 2,000+ crew members, and countless lives touched. Let’s look at our 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Series, by the numbers.

Michigan 3-Daysusan g. komen 3-Day walk blog 60 miles breast cancer michiganDonations: $2.4 Million
Walkers: 875
Crew: 350

Twin Cities 3-Daysusan g. komen 3-Day walk blog 60 miles breast cancer twin citiesDonations: $2.0 Million
Walkers: 750
Crew: 225


Philadelphia 3-DayIMG_2216Donations: $3.8 Million
Walkers: 1,350
Crew: 300


Seattle 3-Daysusan g. komen 3-Day walk blog 60 miles breast cancer seattleDonations: $2.7 Million
Walkers: 925
Crew: 275


Atlanta 3-Daysusan g. komen 3-Day walk blog 60 miles breast cancer atlantaDonations: $3.2 Million
Walkers: 1,100
Crew: 300


Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Daysusan g. komen 3-Day walk blog 60 miles breast cancer dallas fort worthDonations: $3.1 Million
Walkers: 1,150
Crew: 300


San Diego 3-Daysusan g. komen 3-Day walk blog 60 miles breast cancer san diegoDonations: $6.8 Million
Walkers: 2,400
Crew: 350


The fundraising totals listed represent how much was raised by the time each event rolled around, and we’re thrilled that every single Komen 3-Day continued bringing in donation dollars even after the last walker left each Closing Ceremony. With those continued donations, matching gifts and series gifts, the 2014 3-Day® series is on target to exceed $25 million raised toward the fight to end breast cancer.

There’s not a number big enough to calculate our gratitude to you, our 3-Day family, for your part in the fight.

Ways to Say Thank You to Your 3-Day Donors

We have reached the end of the 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season, and it’s a great time for all of you who raised money for the Komen 3-Day this year to give some special thanks to the donors who supported you. Here are a few simple ways to say thank you to your 3-Day® donors:

Thank You Note – You’re probably saying, “Well, duh!” But throughout my years as a 3-Day coach, I was always surprised when I’d hear that some participants didn’t send thank you notes to their donors. Even if you had thanked them in person or in some other way, a hand-written note of thanks is a small gesture that goes a very long way.

Acknowledge their connection – When you thank your donors, take a minute to acknowledge their reason for donating. If they were supporting you in memory of someone, remember that person with them. Honor the survivors in their lives. If they donated to you just because you’re awesome and they wanted to support you, tell them they’re awesome too!IMG_6556

Tell Them How They Helped – This graphic chart shows the direct impact that donations to Susan G. Komen® (through events like the 3-Day) have on the fight to end breast cancer. Click to print:susan g. komen impact priorities challenges 2014

Don’t Ask For More…Yet – Many 3-Dayers are already registered for a 2015 3-Day, and may be tempted to use their thank you notes to ask for donations toward the next walk. Hold off on that for now. Now is the time to shine some light on the amazing contributions your donors made to you and to Komen already. It will leave them feeling warm and appreciated, and if you’re coming back to the 3-Day next year (and we hope you are!), when you are ready to make your ask for new donations, your donors will remember how gracious you were and show their generosity again.

Keep It Simple – If you want to write a detailed thank you note to a donor who had a particularly strong impact on your 3-Day experience, that’s fine, but for the most part, it’s okay to keep your thank yous simple and heartfelt. I found a great post called “22 Delightful Ways to Say Thank You”, which has some fun and concise ways to express your thankfulness.

Share the Love on Social MediaPrint this sign, personalize it with a message or your donors’ names, and take a picture of yourself holding it up. thank youThen post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (wherever your friends are) and tag your donors. They will appreciate the acknowledgement.

Record a Video Message – Thank you notes are timeless and always an effective way to convey your gratitude, but if you’re of a more technological and visual bent, you can send a video thank you message to your donors (or post it on social media and tag them in it). You should still follow the other suggestions above (keep it simple, acknowledge connections), but a video message could be a fun and dynamic way to express your appreciation to your donors.


However you decide to thank you donors, make it from the heart. They are the real heroes of the 3-Day, and they can never be thanked enough for their part in moving us toward our goal of a world without breast cancer.