Hashing Out #Hashtags with #The3Day

Remember the old days, when the pound sign was just a way to indicate a number? How times have changed. These days, that little crisscross symbol has an entirely new function and a new name: a hashtag.

 

What are Hashtags? – Put simply, hashtags are identifiers that are used to group together posts on social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) that relate to similar topics. Say you want to go onto Twitter and find/follow all of the posts about the Super Bowl. You can search for #superbowl, and any public posts that include that identifier will show up in your search results. Unlike a full internet search, where you would go to a search engine like Google or Yahoo and search for the term “Super Bowl,” then get links to a bunch of websites, instead, you search for a hashtag within a specific site. The results for #SuperBowl in Twitter will be different than the results in Instagram.

A Secondary (and Less Functional) Use of Hashtags – Incidentally, hashtags have also taken on a secondary purpose: punchline. Often now, you’ll see people post about some topic, then to punctuate the underlying emotion, or add an afterthought or meta commentary about the post, they include a hashtag. For example, you could post a picture of your smiling, food-covered toddler on Instagram with the caption, “We’re pretty sure she liked the spaghetti! #bathtime #laundrytimetoo”. You say something with the post, then add a little extra commentary with hashtags. In cases like this, the intent of the hashtag is not to group your post with other posts of the same topic, but to quickly and succinctly add a funny, poignant or impactful gist to your comment.

The Possibilities are Limitless – Anyone can make a hashtag, but there are a few rules and practices that go along with creating a hashtag: letters and numbers are okay, but no spaces or punctuation (except dashes and underscores); capital letters can be used to show separation between words without affecting the function of the hashtag (i.e., #SesameStreet and #sesamestreet are seen as identical in the eyes of the internet, but the former might look a little nicer); try to keep each hashtag short and to-the-point; using too many hashtags can dilute the impact of your post, so choose wisely. But beyond that, the possible hashtags you could come up with are boundless as the World Wide Web itself.

Soooo…What Does This All Have to Do With the 3-Day? – As you (hopefully) have noticed, the 3-Day has been using hashtags in its posts all year to pinpoint its place in the social media space. Hashtag #The3Day has been all over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as a way to identify and group together posts about our event—ones that come from us, as well as posts that come from our followers and supporters. Aside from the primary #The3Day hashtag, we also have hashtags for each individual event (#MI3Day, #TC3Day, #PHL3Day, #SEA3Day, #ATL3Day, #DFW3Day and #SD3Day). Hashtags allow you (and us) to easily browse through our social media platforms to find other people who are talking about the 3-Day. Or should we say #The3Day.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog hashtag location specific

Instagram Photo Challenges – One specific hashtag-driven activity that the 3-Day has started is an on-event photo challenge for each of the seven 3-Day events. Starting on the day before each 3-Day begins, and continuing until the following Monday (5 days total), we’ve asked our participants and supporters to post photos on Instagram with a certain theme and hashtag each day. For example, the theme for Day 2 (Saturday) of each event is “Endurance,” so on that day, we want you to post pictures of what that word means to you, and include the hashtag #the3day_endurance. At the end of each day, the 3-Day social media team searches the specific daily hashtag and picks a few shots to share on our Instagram page too. But meanwhile, anyone can search the hashtags and see what other people are posting too!susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog hashtag instagram photo challenge

 

For some, the use of hashtags has been an easy skill to pick up, but for others, it may take a little more time to get the hang of it. That’s okay! You can get a lot out of social media with or without hashtags. If you have questions about hashtag use on the 3-Day, or the 3-Day’s social presence in general, please post on Facebook or tweet us. See you in #cyberspace!

A Journey of Strength, Purpose and Inspiration – by Guest Blogger Nikia B.

In July, Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day coach Gayla emailed me some pictures from a walk-and-talk she had just done with a first-time walker named Nikia B. The photos showed Gayla and Nikia posing with the the various Komen 3-Day posters they spotted as they enjoyed a 5+ mile stroll around a Dallas-area mall (ah, air conditioning!). Even before Gayla told me any details about Nikia or her story, I was struck by the images and Nikia’s energy. When Gayla later told me a little bit about Nikia, I knew we needed to have her tell her story – starting with her own breast cancer diagnosis at age 16, and leading all the way up to those poster photos in the mall. So we asked her, and she agreed! Prepare to be inspired by this amazing young woman.

We’re less than 90 days away from the Susan G. Komen Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, and I could not be more excited to join the thousands of women and men who have experienced the pure magic of the Komen 3-Day. This year in particular will be special for me because it marks 20 years in my own battle against breast cancer.

In some ways it feels like only yesterday when I first encountered breast cancer at the age of 16. I’ll never forget the moment that I first felt that lump in my breast. No family history. No known patients or survivors in my life. I felt like a complete alien, and I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. I simply don’t have words for the fear and grief that tried to rob me of my youth. But recently, while out walking with Dallas/Fort Worth coach Gayla, I ran across a some 3-Day® posters in our local mall that reminded me of what pulled me through my journey, and what I hope to instill into others as I walk. The words that stood out on the posters were Strength, Purpose, and Inspiration.

Strength - The truth is, none of us really know what we’re made of until we’re put into a position to prove it. At the young age of 16, I was forced to make a decision to LIVE and not let my diagnosis define what kind of life I would have. The surgery, treatment and subsequent challenges were undeniably life-defining, but not necessarily in the way you might suppose. Up until the point of my diagnosis, I let life “happen to me,” but I quickly realized how precious life was, and it made me decide that I needed to be the one to make life happen. Somewhere along the way, I found the strength to set my own course and determine what future I wanted to see. Step by step, I’m seeing it unfold, indescribably and beautifully, before my eyes!

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog nikia dallas fort worth strength

Coach Gayla (left) with Nikia, a walking, talking image of strength

 

Purpose - There’s something about staring breast cancer in the face and living through it that made me realize that nothing about life is coincidental or absent of meaning. In fact, I realized quickly that starting from the moment of my diagnosis, I could find purpose in even the most challenging moments of my journey. We all can. Purpose helps us to define and find meaning in the situations and circumstances in our lives that would otherwise make us feel hopeless. Purpose helps us to channel our emotions and frustrations when life isn’t quite going our way and reminds us that what we’re going through educates, empowers and encourages someone else. In fact, I believe our greatest purpose is only realized when we’ve helped someone else get to the place that we’ve come through.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog nikia dallas fort worth purpose

 

Inspiration - I never would have climbed out of bed on the tough days if it weren’t for something nudging me, provoking me and inspiring me to find a reason to fight to see another day. For some, it’s a child, a loved one or spouse. For others it’s a spiritual power that centers and empowers them. Whatever the source, everyone needs to find their reason to keep going – it serves as fuel for uphill journeys and marathon missions. My inspiration was a combination of my faith and my family. My gratitude for my life and purpose in this world, motivated me to fight for my presence on this earth for years to come.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog nikia dallas fort worth inspiration

This November, when I embark upon my first-ever 3-Day, I will pull from all the strength, purpose and inspiration I have ever felt and received. I hope to channel it into every step I take, remembering the countless lives that have been lost to this horrible disease. But more than that, with every step I take, I will reflect on the incredible opportunity I’ve been given to use my life and experience to help others. I will walk with a renewed sense of my obligation to be a voice and a hope for those who have lost theirs along the way. I plan to walk every step of my 60-mile journey in appreciation of this wonderful thing called life–a life that I look forward to one day living in a world without breast cancer.

 

Thank you, Nikia! We look forward to sharing the 3-Day with you in November!

Part 5 of the ABCs of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Crew

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of the ABC’s of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Crew! We’ve shared letters A – E, F – J, K – O, P – T, and this week, we’re excited to bring you the final six letters. Please tell us your ideas for each letter here or on Facebook, and share these images with your family and friends. (To see the Komen 3-Day walker version of the ABC’s, click here!)

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer university training

Crew University is a series of recorded, online training sessions designed to get 3-Day® crew members up to speed on what the 3-Day is all about, and provide details about their specific crew jobs. All 3-Day crew members have access to Crew U. in their Participant Centers, and are encouraged to watch the recordings that apply to them before they come to the All Crew Kick-off.

 

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer Every 3-Day crew member is a volunteer (they’re paid in hugs, high fives and heartfelt gratitude) who works all three days of the event, but there are also numerous other volunteer opportunities for folks who may not be able to fulfill the full crew commitment. From outreach and recruitment, to training and motivating participants, to on-event roles and responsibilities, there is a volunteer program to fit your schedule, skills and passions on the 3-Day.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer western shelterTo most walkers, they may just look like pink-covered beacons you see from afar, telling you that you’ve reached a stop at last. But to a 3-Day crew member, these open-air tents, called Western Shelters, are an essential part of the pit stops, grab & go’s and lunch stop. Crew members work together to quickly and safely assemble the structures, ensuring that your beloved grahamwiches are kept shaded.

See also: Walkie-talkies

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer x tent sectionThe 3-Day camp is divided into tent sections to help participants find their little pink homes amidst a sea of tents. Crew members “live” in section X and Y, which are kept a little bit separate from the walker sections (so the crew members, with their early mornings and late nights, don’t bother the sleeping walkers).

See also: eXcellence (one of the “STEPS” that make up the foundation of the 3-Day Crew culture and philosophy)

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer youth corpsThe 3-Day Youth Corps is a select group of young people (10-16 years old) who participate as crew members on the event. The yellow-shirted Youth Corps members attend the entire 3-Day event (accompanied by a small group of adult leaders), camp with the participants and complete a multitude of important tasks both on the route and in camp (the most important of which is enthusiastically cheering on the walkers). The Youth Corps is the only crew team that is required to fundraise; each Youth Corps member must raise at least $500 by the time of their event in order to participate and most kids exceed the minimum by leaps and bounds.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer zip tiesDuct tape is great, but on the 3-Day, the go-to tools for holding stuff together–from route arrows to pit stop decorations to event signage—are zip ties.

 

We’ve reached the end of the alphabet, but the conversation doesn’t have to stop! Tell us what those 26 letters mean to you, as a walker, crew member or supporter!