David of Cleveland Cleavage and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Community

Those who know the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® know that above all, the Komen 3-Day is a family. New and returning participants alike are greeted with open arms, warmly welcomed into a bold community that is bravely fighting breast cancer with passion, drive and stamina. We caught up with David G. and several of his Cleveland Cleavage teammates, to learn more about what the 3-Day® means to them.

David and his Cleveland Cleavage teammate Tina head to the lunch stop on Day 3 of the Michigan 3-Day.

David and his Cleveland Cleavage teammate Tina head to the lunch stop on Day 3 of the Michigan 3-Day.

David’s friendly blue eyes twinkle as he recounts his numerous 3-Day events; all told, David has raised over $24,000 in the 11 3-Day events he’s been a part of (nine as a walker and two as a crew member). David became involved in the Komen community in 2005 by participating in several Race for the Cure® events in Cleveland with Nancy, a decades-long friend who was battling breast cancer. David decided to walk the 3-Day for her and several other people in his life who were lost to cancer. “I decided to surprise her in 2010 and told her that I was going to be doing the 3-Day. She was over the moon happy. I did it in July of 2010 in Cleveland, did the final Race for the Cure with her two months later, and then about three weeks later she took her final turn, after a ten year fight. I walk for her, and for my grandma, my best friend, my neighbor. I’m walking for them all,” said David.

Like David, his new Cleveland Cleavage teammate Rachel K., from Macomb, Michigan, also has a very personal connection to the cause. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Rachel remembers those she’s walking for as a way to keep her inspired on the route. “I always remember the reasons why I’m walking. Don’t forget, because those people are cheering you on. That’s what gets me through.” Rachel walked the 3-Day once before in 2008. (Fun fact: Rachel joined the Cleveland Cleavage team after seeing the team’s photos on Instagram!)

In addition to Rachel, David was joined this weekend in Michigan by several other members of the Cleveland Cleavage team, and his face lights up as he describes his love for Cleveland. “Born there, raised there, lived there my entire life. I love Cleveland!” While the team’s name is inspired by the Ohio city, the sixteen members of the team (including one Youth Corps member) are from all over the country, including Michigan, California, Kansas, Missouri, and Virginia. “We’ve got half the country represented,” David jokes.

What does this bunch think of walking Michigan, even when their team names boasts an allegiance to Cleveland? “I could almost throw a rock at Michigan from there,” David says of Cleveland. “I’m blessed to still be so close to an event,” he said. “I’m driving to Philly and flying to San Diego, so distance won’t deter me.” He adds, “Plymouth was the most awesome cheering station I’ve ever seen.” That’s saying a lot, from a guy with David’s level of experience.

David and Jodi, a member of Cleveland Cleavage

David and Jodi, a member of Cleveland Cleavage

David’s love of the Cleveland community also echoes in the way he’s successfully raised funds over the years. David describes his fundraising efforts as creative and local, including several types of events like bowling parties and wing nights. “I just try to come up with new things,” he said.

It’s a pleasure talking with David and his teammates, and before we know it, their lunch break has ended and they’re ready to keep moving. I know that with the Michigan 3-Day Closing Ceremony just a few hours away, this may be the last time I see David on this event, but I smile knowing I’ll spot his tall, smiling personage in more 2014 3-Day cities. His parting thoughts? “Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the people. Enjoy the atmosphere. If you walk all 60, great. But you’ve already done the hard part by fundraising to get here. And that’s where you help the cause. The walk is a celebration of that.”

Two Sisters, Crew Sisters

When you start talking to Susan G. Komen Michigan 3-Day crew members Janine and Laurie, it doesn’t take long before you can tell without a doubt that they’re sisters. It’s not just the similarity in features and body language; the two women finish each other’s sentences and banter back and forth with playful ribbing that screams “siblings.”

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk michigan day 1 crew sisters

Janine and Laurie, sisters and lunch crewmates

Originally from Boston, Janine and Laurie are two of ten children in their family. Janine now lives in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and Laurie calls the San Francisco Bay Area home. When I asked them how often they get to see each other, they replied, “At least once a year on the 3-Day®! That’s part of why we keep doing it, otherwise we wouldn’t get to see each other as much.”

Laurie, though the younger of the two sisters (Janine was good-humoredly offended at how quick Laurie was to point out who was older), is the more veteran 3-Day participant, with the 2014 Michigan 3-Day being her twenty-fourth event; she has walked eighteen times and crewed six times, including this Michigan event, and will walk again in San Diego this November. But Janine’s 3-Day experience is impressive too; she has walked seven times and this event marks her second year on the crew. Even hearing them try and itemize their 3-Day resumes (“No, you’ve walked eighteen times, not seventeen.” “Eighteen? Are you sure?” “How can I know this and you don’t know this?!”), their sisterly rivalry—though energetic and affectionate—is unmistakable. They shared stories about how last year, working a pit stop in Boston, their captain kept mixing up their names until the two ladies decided to write them in large black letters across their crew shirts, and another story about how one morning on the Arizona 3-Day, when Laurie was worried that they’d overslept, she let the air out of Janine’s air mattress right under her to get her sister moving. You can just picture them laughing through the whole thing.

Looking back at her long history with the 3-Day, Laurie recalls that she planned to take a break from walking after her third event. But then Janine was diagnosed with breast cancer. Laurie recalls what it felt like when her big sister shared the awful news: “I remember Janine said, ‘This is not supposed to happen.’ She took care of herself, she walked for other people with breast cancer [in the Race for the Cure] every year. It was like getting hit by a truck.”

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk michigan day 1 crew sisters

Laurie and Janine

Laurie immediately knew she had to walk again. So she signed up again, trained and raised money. Janine’s birthday was on Day 1 of Laurie’s walk in San Diego that year, and she called her sister to tell her, “This one’s for you.” Janine’s response? “Next year I’ll be there with you.” The following fall, Laurie and two of their other sisters joined Janine on her first 3-Day, where she proudly walked as a survivor.

Fast forward to 2014, when Janine and Laurie arrived from opposite coasts to meet and crew together again in Michigan. I asked them what the 3-Day meant to them, and Janine’s response was perfection: “This is one of the most gratifying events anyone can do. Being able to share this with my sister is incredible. She really is my co-survivor. Even though she wasn’t physically with me through all of my treatment, she was always there for me. We celebrate every year. Two nights ago [when we arrived in Michigan] was 11 years to the day of being cancer free. So I celebrated with my sister. And then it’s a big party with everyone else joining! It’s tremendous. I have 2 daughters, I’m one of 6 sisters, and we have a whole mess of nieces and grand-nieces. Enough is enough. I get angry when someone else is diagnosed. If I ever think, ‘I don’t want to keep doing the 3-Day, I’ll take that time and money and go on vacation instead,’ I say no, not till this is done.”

Michigan 3-Day participants can look for Janine and Laurie at the lunch stop this weekend. Where you find one of the sisters, the other is sure to be nearby.

Introducing the ABC’s of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Crew

Every year, the Komen 3-Day Crew puts up tents, picks up trash, hangs route signage, sets up pit stops, cheers on tired walkers, soothes stinging blisters, serves hot meals and much, much more. Being a part of the 3-Day® Crew means giving up your time in selfless service to help end breast cancer. Whether you’re a ten-time crew member, brand new to the Crew or an interested participant, we wanted to share the ABC’s of the 3-Day Crew – 26 Crew-related people, places and things you’ll encounter on the 3-Day. We invite you to share ideas for each letter here or on Facebook, and to share these images with your family and friends. (To see the 3-Day walker version of the ABC’s, click here!)

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew blog ABCs  all crew kick-offOn the Thursday before every 3-Day event, all crew members get together to prepare for an amazing 3 days. The All-Crew Kick-Off is a chance to reunite with crew friends from past events and meet the newest members of our crew community. There’s music, games and other activities to build camaraderie and the 3-Day spirit. Crew members also learn how to set up event tents and canopies, use a walkie-talkie and maybe even drive a big truck. Attendance at the All-Crew Kick-Off is required for all crew members.

See Also: (Route Marking) Arrows

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew blog ABCs  bus liaisonSometimes walkers have to call it quits for the day and be transported back to camp, and often, this decision is an emotional one. Thank goodness for the sensitive and supportive Bus Liaison crew team. These folks are there to lift walkers’ spirits and keep them company while in transit.

See also: Blisters

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew blog ABCs The 3-Day simply would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of the all-volunteer Crew. Crew members and volunteers work throughout the entire 3-Day experience, serving as the backbone of the event, bringing it to life and becoming the support system for the walkers every step of the way. You can read descriptions of the different types of crew members here (or in playful poetic form here).

See also: Cheering Stations, Camp Logistics, Camp Services

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew blog ABCs  dancingBeing part of the 3-Day Crew is a lot of work, but that doesn’t mean there’s no play! What’s a great way to encourage and motivate tired walkers to keep going? Dancing! You’ll see many of our spirited crew members groovin’ and movin’ along the route, at stops and at camp, with tunes or without. Join them and put an extra spring in your step!

See also: Driver

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew blog ABCs  event supportEvent Support is a special team of crew members with three or more years of experience on the 3-Day Crew who are ready to step in wherever needed. They are essentially jacks-of-all-trades, lending pit stop support, assisting with Ceremonies, helping to manage bus transport, assisting with a relocation and serving as extra route safety.

See also: Experience of a lifetime (Walker, Crew, or Volunteer: you’ll have it on the 3-Day!)

 

What other Crew terms can you think of for letters A,B,C,D and E? How about for letters F,G,H,I and J? Stay tuned for Part 2 of the ABC’s of the 3-Day Crew next week!