“We come together for one common goal.” – A Guest Post by Trina O.

Trina O’Boyle is the voice behind O’Boy! Organic, a lifestyle blog which covers healthy eating, style, parenting and more. Trina walked in the 2015 Philadelphia 3-Day, her second 3-Day event, and shared her experiences with us.

SGK Walk  (1)I’ve known about Susan G. Komen and the 3-Day for years. When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer over 10 years ago, she dedicated countless hours to participating in local breast cancer awareness walks and educating others on the importance of early detection. My mother was fortunate to have discovered her breast cancer early and was in remission for years. Unfortunately, in 2011 a new cancer invaded my mom – lung cancer. Unfortunately, it was not caught early and in 2013 at the age of 75 my mom lost her life.

Losing my mom to cancer was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. A part of me died with her, and I spent a year grieving the loss of my mom and best friend. During my healing process I was reminded of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, and right away I knew this was something I HAD to do, for me and my mom. You see, she had always wanted to do the 3-Day but never could. Now I could do it for her. So in 2014, I tackled my first 3-Day in Philadelphia. It was life changing.

I still remember the first day of the 3-Day in 2014. We were not even halfway through and I was chatting with some other walkers, just meeting for the first time. They asked if this was my first 3-Day. I said yes, and their response surprised me and has stuck with me ever since: “Welcome to the family.” That is truly what the Susan G. Komen 3-Day is: a family. A family made up of all sorts of people volunteering—working as crew members and walkers. We come together for one common goal: to end breast cancer.

We celebrate not the first person that arrives at camp each day but the last, because that is what family does.

I loved the 3-Day so much that I decided to tackle it again in 2015. This time around I was able to share this amazing experience with my best friend. Having the opportunity to experience something like this with someone close to you is truly a special thing that I know we will both remember for a lifetime. We encouraged, pushed and counted on one another throughout the 60 miles like never before and I feel blessed to have had her by my side.MB and 3 Day

I’ve been volunteering since I was in high school. I started out as a candy striper, then after my grandfather passed away I volunteered with my local hospice. As a blogger, I’ve committed to using my online voice to educate others on important causes and issues. As a mother, I include my kids in my volunteering efforts by taking them to soup kitchens and donating items to local charities during the holiday season or when we see the need locally and/or globally. By participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day you are not only experiencing something magical and inspiring but you are also volunteering – your time, your hard work, your fundraising expertise – to end breast cancer.

As a blogger, I’ve been committed to using my online voice to educate others on important causes and issues that we may not have thought twice about. And while most 3-Day walkers probably don’t think of themselves as volunteers for the cause, they are, because they are freely giving their time and energy to doing something good (and of course, the 3-Day crew members and other supporters are world class volunteers too). So why do it, why volunteer? Yes, it makes you feel good but there are a lot of other reasons.

5 Benefits of Volunteering

It Saves Resources – Volunteers are the backbone to many charities. Some studies have found that the estimated value of a volunteer is $23 an hour. People who take time out of their lives to volunteer are providing valuable services so that more money can be spent elsewhere. This is definitely true at the 3-Day, where hundreds of people work on the amazing all-volunteer crew to keep the huge 3-Day event running like clockwork.

It’s Good For Your Health – Volunteering and participating in charitable events like the 3-Day reduces stress, changes your mood and affects your emotions in a positive way. Think about it: When you focus on someone other than yourself, you stop thinking about all your problems which makes you a happier person.

It Brings People Together – When you volunteer or take part in the 3-Day you come together with people of all backgrounds. Everyone is working towards one common goal and it helps build friendships and encourages teamwork.

I met Alaine on the first day. Alaine was welcoming the walkers in at the end of the day. Because of physical issues she wasn’t able to walk but still wanted to be a part of the 3-Day experience, because it means so much to her. Alaine shared a poem that she wrote and now I share it with you.

I met Alaine on the first day. Alaine was welcoming the walkers in at the end of the day. Because of physical issues she wasn’t able to walk but still wanted to be a part of the 3-Day experience, because it means so much to her. Alaine shared a poem that she wrote and now I share it with you.

I recruited my girlfriend from south Florida to join me this year for the 3-Day. Marybeth was a trooper as she dealt with the cold, wind and rain throughout the weekend. It helped that we had crew members who made us laugh along the way.

I recruited my girlfriend from south Florida to join me this year for the 3-Day. Marybeth was a trooper as she dealt with the cold, wind and rain throughout the weekend. It helped that we had crew members who made us laugh along the way.

You Learn A Lot – Besides discovering some hidden talents, volunteering allows people to try new activities that they may not have ever thought they would do. Whether you’re helping out for a few hours or spending three days walking 60 miles, giving your time to a cause can turn into a lifetime of learning and continued opportunities to help others.

So many smiling faces along the way, always upbeat encouraging the walkers to carry on.

So many smiling faces along the way, always upbeat, encouraging the walkers to carry on.

You Make a Difference – Even doing small things can have a huge impact. Volunteers and participant fundraisers have an enormous impact on the health and well-being of communities worldwide.

On the 2nd day at mile 16 I was in bad shape. My foot was killing me and I needed to have it wrapped. I went to the medical tent at one of the pit stops and this beautiful nurse encouraged me to sweep but I didn’t listen, because I wanted to carry on with walking. She saw me at a bad time, tears crying and exhausted. She was there for me at a time when I needed it. At the finish line I saw her again and thanked her for helping me the day before. My son noticed us speaking, hugging and crying. He asked me why I was crying, I told him how she had helped me. He then went up to her (with tears in his eyes) and said, “Thank you for helping my mom.”

On the 2nd day at mile 16 I was in bad shape. My foot was killing me and I needed to have it wrapped. I went to the medical tent at one of the pit stops and this beautiful nurse encouraged me to sweep but I didn’t listen, because I wanted to carry on with walking. She saw me at a bad time, tears crying and exhausted. She was there for me at a time when I needed it. At the finish line I saw her again and thanked her for helping me the day before. My son noticed us speaking, hugging and crying. He asked me why I was crying, I told him how she had helped me. He then went up to her (with tears in his eyes) and said, “Thank you for helping my mom.”

By doing the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, you will push yourself physically and emotionally. Then at the end, when you feel you can’t go one step farther, you get such a sense of accomplishment and self worth that YOU’VE DONE SOMETHING! After completing 60 miles and raising money to end breast cancer you WILL be changed for the better because you will have helped so many.

SGK Finish LineThank you, Susan G. Komen, for giving me the opportunity to experience the 3-Day for two years. It has helped me heal emotionally from the loss of my mother and has given me the courage to have a voice to help others in need.

Susan G. Komen 3-Day Impact Forum: A Look Into 2016

Last year was an incredible 3-Day season for me. I completed my first full year as 3-Day Program Manager and had a chance to interact directly with many participants on the events and build some personal relationships.

Last night, I had the privilege of attending the first-ever Komen Impact Forum, held at Komen’s headquarters in Dallas with more than 120 3-Day participants. We’ll be holding Impact Forums in nine other cities during the next month. I know not everyone will be able to attend, so I wanted to share some of the most important discussions we had yesterday.IMG_9198

It’s clear to me that the 3-Day family is strong. You are the most passionate, dedicated and loyal group of individuals in the Susan G. Komen community. Year round, you are fundraising, training, advocating and educating—doing incredible work for Komen and our shared mission to end breast cancer forever.

You have remained steadfast in your support, even as fundraising has been getting harder and you’ve been left unarmed to answer questions you may have been getting from your donors about Komen.

Komen’s leadership team is committed to providing the transparency you’ve told us is lacking. We want to provide you with better insight into how Komen is working toward our mission and what our plans are for the future.

Here are the first steps we’re taking toward that goal:

  • We’re developing some easy reference tools you can use for fundraising, to show your donors and supporters how their dollars go to work, and to answer the hard questions they have about Komen. These pieces will be posted at The3Day.org/Komen in late January. There are already many great informational links on that page, and we will continue to add to them as the year continues and we hear more from you about what you need.
  • We’re forming an advisory council of 3-Day participants from each region of the country, a team with varying perspectives and participation experience. We want to give the 3-Day community a voice to help us at Komen do a better job of supporting you.
  • We’re reaching out, via email and in person, to connect directly with more 3-Day participants. We also want to give you regular updates on research programs as well as personal stories from the researchers your dollars are supporting. There is a face and story behind every part of the Komen community and we want you to connect with it!

Those of you who have been with the 3-Day since 2003 have seen the series grow and change—expanding and then contracting, both in participation and fundraising. We know you’re concerned. We’ve heard your worries. We, too, want to reverse the trend and see the 3-Day begin to grow again. Our big goal is to double the size of the program. This would put us on track toward a bright and powerful future.

This isn’t going to happen through advertising. Major media buys just don’t make sense in this climate and with the people we’re trying to reach. We looked very closely and strategically at the best way to bring participants to the 3-Day and while TV and radio ads have worked in the past—maybe some of you first heard about the 3-Day on TV—they simply aren’t working anymore.

Instead, we’re investing in you, our 3-Day family. We’re turning our focus toward the future and an awesome milestone we’re on the verge of celebrating: Our 150th walk! We’re kicking off the 2016 season with our 150th 3-Day in Michigan, and continuing the party across seven cities for thousands of past 3-Day participants. To commemorate this anniversary, we’re finding new ways to make it easier to reconnect with our community and also share it with others. Stay tuned—in the first week of February we’ll be announcing two unique programs, here on the blog and also on the 3-Day website.

We all want the same thing—more people, more money raised, and more impact, so that one day no one else has to die from breast cancer. We at Komen are prepared to dig deep to support you. The 3-Day is on its way to raising 1 billion dollars—and we believe we can reach that mark by 2020. We will never give up!

It was great to connect with so many 3-Day participants in Dallas last night, and I look forward to talking with many more of you across the country in the weeks and months to come. It’s inspiring, humbling and heartwarming to be able to talk to you in person. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon, whether it’s at an Impact Forum, at some other gathering, or on a 3-Day event later this year.

– Chrissy Mathews, 3-Day Program Manager

RSVP for a Komen Impact Forum near you:

Wednesday, January 20, Troy, MI
Thursday, January 21, St. Paul, MN
Tuesday, January 26, Bellevue, WA
Thursday, January 28, San Diego, CA
Tuesday, February 2, Dunwoody, GA
Wednesday, February 3, Tampa, FL
Tuesday, February 9, Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, February 11, Arlington, VA
Tuesday, February 16, Phoenix, AZ

Coaches’ Favorite Moments from 2015

The staff of Susan G. Komen 3-Day® spend the entire year supporting walkers and crew members from all corners of the country, and when the event season begins in August, many of these coaches also hit the road and work the Komen 3-Day events themselves. We asked the 3-Day® coaches to share some of their favorite moments or memories from the 2015 3-Day season.

Ann (Michigan Local Events Coach) – My favorite moment this year happened on Friday night in Michigan. The sun was setting and camp was starting to quiet down. I ran into a new walker who I had met once at an event in Cleveland. She was hanging out on some of our comfy 3-Day Main Street furniture. I grabbed her a mocktail from the Lounge, sat down with her and just chatted for a while. It was a quiet moment after a really long day (for both of us) and it felt so nice to just sit and connect with a walker while she relaxed and geared up for Day 2. 11855761_10207558287185470_3756579876611405295_n

Robin (Volunteer Operations Manager) – I was serving as the caboose in San Diego.  It was a sunny day and I had forgotten to bring my hat out on the route with me.  Route Safety crew member Dan Sinclair saw that I needed a hat and then gave me a cute pink fedora.  It’s so great to have such wonderful volunteers looking out for the walkers, the staff and fellow crew.

Robin looking "fedorable" with her family in San Diego

Robin looking “fedorable” with her family in San Diego

Stephanie (Twin Cities Local Events Coach) – I was the Route Coordinator with the amazing Pit Stop 3 crew in Seattle. On Day 2 our stop was located at a church which offers a safe haven to homeless people in the Seattle area who live out of their cars, allowing them to park in their lot throughout the day and at night. When we arrived at the location early in the morning we were all humbled by what we saw. As we were setting up the pit stop, 4 small children hopped out of one van and walked into the church to brush their teeth for the day. Eventually several more of the car owners were waking up and doing the same. It certainly made me pause and think of my own family back in St. Paul, who at that very moment were enjoying a warm house, a pantry full of food and a Saturday schedule of soccer games and friends. As a crew team, we decided to do something when we closed down. We set up a buffet of leftover fruits, sandwiches, grahamwiches and more on the church steps for these families. We eventually finished packing up and headed out, and halfway back to my hotel, I received a text from my Crew Captain. She said it was like Christmas morning at the church. After the 3-Day people left, suddenly car doors opened and the homeless families walked up to the food we left and began eating. More cars arrived ‘home’ to the church parking lot and joined in as well. I didn’t know whether to cry or be happy when I heard this. I think I did both. Needless to say I couldn’t be prouder of what the crew did that day. It was their job to help and support the 3-Day community, but they ended up helping so many more people than that.

Stephanie and Seattle's Pit Stop 3 minions

Stephanie and Seattle’s Pit Stop 3 minions

 Nanette (San Diego Crew & Volunteer Coordinator) – Out of all of the events last year, I choose Philadelphia. Why? Because who doesn’t love standing in the freezing rain for 8 hours? Actually, it’s because I think the connection I made with the lunch crew I was working with was incredible. They worked amazingly well. The captain was fantastic and we had a lot of assistance from long-time lunch crew members. Seeing everyone working in harmony and creating lasting friendships was so special, and those relationships were only strengthened by a good rain. The cheerfulness in the faces made up for the lack of sunshine in the skies. philly lunch

Joanne (Philadelphia Local Events Coach) – In 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting Deb Craig. She and her friends (Philly Phinz) are HUGE supporters of the 3-Day and host their own private cheering station each year on Saturday. Deb and I communicated for months before the event and she was very anxious to meet me. So on that Saturday, I swung by their cheering station and met Deb and her clan. They had a whole elaborate set-up with a tent, lots of food and the most amazing hot apple cider for the chilliest of days. What a fantastic idea! She was thrilled that I took the time to come visit. The more amazing part about Deb is that she has Multiple Sclerosis and never complains. She has the cheeriest disposition and the smile never leaves her face. I can’t wait to see her again in 2016!

Joanne (right) with Deb in Philly

Joanne (right) with Deb in Philly

Molly (Local Operations Director) – Most of the event season I’m in a role that’s behind the scenes, but this year I got to play the challenging but fun role of Caboose in Dallas/Fort Worth for the second year in a row. As Caboose my job is to remain with walkers at the back of the pack and ensure that each stop along the way, and ultimately each day’s route, closes on time. While it can be difficult at times, the magical moments as Caboose far outweigh any of the challenges you can experience. This year I had the pleasure of walking alongside one of our 7-city series walkers. I’d heard of Christa along the way, but getting the opportunity to walk beside her and hear about her tremendous story directly from her was an honor and a true reminder of just how important the work we do on the 3-Day truly is. Christa is planning on walking in all 7 cities again next year and I already can’t wait to see her.

Christa with Caboose Molly

Christa with Caboose Molly

Paula (Seattle Participant Coach) – Our 83 year-old 3-Day walker, George Nummer, registered for the Seattle 3-Day in 2015, and we became phone friends after his first call to the coaches months before the event. In our conversations, he always ended the call with a reminder to “save a dance” for him. He found me on Saturday in Seattle, and we shared that dance and the wonderful camaraderie that 3-Day participants all know so well. I learned that George was never a dancer until his first 3-Day, when his fellow walkers invited him to dance with them. These days, George is the first one on the dance floor, and he had found me for one more dance at the end of Day 3. He had more energy than most after our strenuous 60-mile journey ended. George, I will always save a dance for you! paula_george

Gina (Michigan Crew & Volunteer Coordinator) – I always love seeing the young people and their involvement, be it as participants or supporters, as I think they are the future of this event. It’s really cool to see the Youth Corps who go on to walk in the event and continue their 3-Day legacy.

Gina with her biggest little fan

Gina with her biggest little fan

Jennifer (Michigan Participant Coach) – I love seeing the same people on the 3-Day year after year. In 2015, two ladies whom I had gotten to know well as walkers the year before were both participating in the Twin Cities 3-Day–Karen as a walker again and Stephanie as a crew member. I was the staff person assigned to Pit Stop 4 and Stephanie was there to help and cheer on walkers. We were catching up we caught a glimpse of Karen coming down the street and knew she would be in the pit stop any minute. Quickly, we formed a plan: Stephanie went into one of the porta-potties to hide, and when Karen came into the stop, I made a silly production out of saying I had ‘reserved’ a porta-potty just for her. She was laughing but it worked and she went right into the same one that Stephanie was hiding in.  There was a scream and then all three of us burst out laughing.  It was a great moment and I am pretty sure Karen is probably more cautious when she enters porta-potties now.

Jennifer with Karen and Stephanie (outside a port-potty, thank goodness)

Jennifer with Karen and Stephanie (outside a port-potty, thank goodness)

The Twin Cities 3-Day was also when I made more great memories with the rest of the 3-Day staff. I work with some of the most amazing people on the planet. I love my job, but for most of the year I am in my home office with only a phone and a computer to connect me with these amazing co-workers, so when event season comes around I am thrilled to be able to see them face-to-face and work alongside them. On Saturday, I got a lot of extra help at pit stop 4 (we were expecting storms, so we had to make sure the walkers all made it in and out of the last stop safely before the weather got too bad). Looking back, I don’t think I can remember another time where so many route staff were gathered at the same spot. At one point, we found ourselves all lined up, trying to take a very serious picture of all of us and we just couldn’t do it. I know that many pictures were snapped but none of us could hold a straight, serious face for more than a couple of seconds. The picture included here is one of my all-time favorites.  TC 1

Gayla (Dallas/Fort Worth Local Events Coach) – After participating in or staffing 19 3-Day events since 2005, the 2015 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day was a very different experience for me, inspiring on a totally different level. It was the first time I was a speaker at the Opening Ceremony in front of thousands of people. I’ve cheered walkers out of Opening Ceremony, but this year I got caught up dancing them out with Pink Hair Guy, Bill Wetsel. Day 1 dancingThe interaction was very special as I passed out pink Promise Ribbons to walkers, trying to meet every single person and thank them for all of their hard work training and fundraising. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many hugs in my life. Day 1 ribbonsI think the highlight of 2015 was when I announced Ralph Morriss as the Local Impact Award winner in Dallas/Fort Worth. He had no idea and was very surprised when I said his name after talking about what “this person” had accomplished over the years for the 3-Day. The dining tent absolutely erupted with cheers! Gives me goosebumps and makes me smile every time I think about it. ralph morris award

Staci (San Diego Participant Coach) – I have to say that finally being face-to-face with Sally Dunbar at the Opening Ceremony in San Diego was a phenomenal start to the event weekend and a favorite lasting memory from this year. Sally is a particularly hard-working, enthusiastic and determined out-of-town team captain. She recruited over 50 first-time 3-Dayers to be a part of her team. We’d exchanged a bunch of emails throughout the season, brainstormed team gear, cheered on the team milestones (each surpassed by the next momentous accomplishment!) and now here we were – at the Opening Ceremony. My first thoughts were: “Wow, Sally’s really tall! I see her team is all wearing purple, and they all have fancy headbands. And they’re all up front near the stage!” My next thought (and this is the one that gave me my first chills of the weekend) was “Little do they know the journey that awaits them.” As I looked at that swath of purple I knew without a doubt that these folks were about to share the weekend of a lifetime. It doesn’t get any better than that.

San Diego coaches Kim (left) and Staci (right)

San Diego coaches Kim (left) and Staci (right)

Kim (San Diego Local Events Coach) – There were too many great memories from 2015, how can I pick just one? Going through all my pictures helps me relive all the amazing moments again. In Michigan, I loved working with the amazing 3-Day team before first event, getting ready to begin a fantastic 3-Day season. MI 15 After that, it was off to the Twin Cities, and I especially loved watching Chrissy Mathews encourage and cheer people in to the pit stop with her unstoppable energy (and getting a fun selfie with her and a fellow staffer). TC 5 Day 2 in Twin Cities was quite an experience, with having to shut down pit stop 4 a little early because of thunderstorms (and tornado watches – not what this California girl is used to!), but we still found time for some good laughs before things got too crazy.

(Editor's note: Kim and Jennifer were not aware that they both sent this as one of the favorite memories!)

(Editor’s note: Kim and Jennifer were not aware that they both sent this as one of the favorite memories!)

Seattle had some special moments, like seeing one survivor take care of another, 2015-09-19 08.19.53 and getting to meet these 4 wonderful women, 3 of them walkers and 1 crew. 2015-09-20 08.31.47 - Copy And of course, there was time for a lot of silliness with co-workers, like this day when Nanette and I got a little nutty preparing pit stop equipment. MI 3