Buzzing by Pit Stop 1 with Crew Captain Steve

On Day 1 the Michigan 3-Day, pit stop 1 is buzzing: from the contagious energy of fresh walkers just over 2 miles into their journey, to the excited and energized crew, to the beautiful weather shining down on the first 3-Day of the year. At the entrance of the pit stop, a friendly and familiar face greets each and every walker: “Hey, how are ya? What’s buzzin?” The welcoming smile of this person only grows more enthusiastic with each new walker, no doubt because every walker who sees him and his “jugs” laughs almost immediately upon sight.


Steve, “Mr. BooBee”, at the 2014 Michigan 3-Day

Now, let’s be clear: on a breast cancer event, we can say “jugs” as a euphemism for breasts, but in this instance, we actually mean jugs – empty water jugs, the tip of each embellished with a fuzzy bee, googly eyes, pom-poms, and all. Welcome to the hive: this is pit stop 1, a BEE-utiful bumble bee themed pit stop, complete with fearless leader and crew captain Steve Z., a six-year supporter of the 3-Day. Steve was a self-proclaimed “walker stalker” for two years, supporting his fiancée as she walked. “Then I couldn’t take it any longer and HAD to join,” he said. “I walked the following year and crewed pit stop 2 the year after that.” He was promoted to crew captain last year, a role he’s returning to this year.

How did Steve hear about the 3-Day? “I really got brought to it by my fiancée, Barb. She has such a passion for this event, it’s infectious. She has two cousins who are survivors, my mom is a survivor and she and I have walked for Team Suze Cruise, where Sue has been an inspiration to so many.” Like so many other people involved with the 3-Day, Steve is struck by the numbing truth is that we all know somebody affected by breast cancer. “When I walk into the Remembrance Tent every year, I am so saddened, but steeled to fight breast cancer. To see the devastating effect it has on not only the person with the disease, but also their family and friends…. It’s heartbreaking.”

Some members of the BooBees at Michigan Pit Stop 1 at the 2014 3-Day

Some members of the BooBees at the 2014 Michigan -Day

We heard about Steve because of some amazing feedback about him from his fellow crew teams, and also because of the incredible kindness he (like all crew members) demonstrates to the Michigan walkers. “I’m very lucky. I have a great crew, who are friends more than ‘co-workers’ really. I have been lucky enough to make many friends here at the 3-Day. They make me a better person and captain,” he said. “I try to get to know each crew member, find their strengths and weaknesses, and work to their strengths, while supporting them with things they might need help with, always remembering that not everyone can do everything. It’s kind of that whole theme of this year’s crew message of ‘Inclusion.’ We ALL bring something to the party, so use those strengths to progress forward.”

While talking to Steve, it’s obvious that his leadership shines through compassion and the ability to understand a diverse group of people. Steve honed these skills in the army. “I was an Infantry Drill Sergeant, and at the Closing Ceremony, even an old drill sergeant gets misty.” (You’re not alone Steve – we think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t get misty at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 3-Day!)

“I can honestly say that the forced marches I did with my troops are every bit as hard as the walk for the 3-Day. Sixty miles in three days is a pretty damn impressive thing to accomplish. I’m proud to be a part of this event and organization,” Steve says, smiling, as he continues to cheer on walkers entering his pit stop. Steve’s contagious energy is drawing walkers into the hive like a beautiful flower, and as smiles erupt around him and his jugs, the spirit of the 3-Day shines through.

Crew members at Pit Stop 1 are all smiles handing out snacks bright and early today on Day 1 of the Michigan 3-Day.

Crew members at Pit Stop 1 are all smiles handing out snacks bright and early today on Day 1 of the Michigan 3-Day.

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.