The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in San Diego is one of the longest running Komen 3-Day events, and you can tell that it’s something that the entire community looks forward to all year. Set against the backdrop of the stunning Pacific coastline, the San Diego 3-Day welcomes walkers and crew members from all over the country, as well as countless local supporters, for three days of belief and hope for a world where breast cancer is no more.
Many walkers and crew awoke in the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning and faced rainy skies and an uncertain start to Day 1. But by the time Dr. Sheri took the stage for an always-inspiring Opening Ceremony, the clouds had lifted and Mother Nature treated us to a spectacular sunrise and a miraculous rainbow over the ocean as 2,400 dedicated women and men walked out of the Del Mar Fairgrounds for the first steps of their 60 mile journey. The first of many cheering stations spanned blocks of Del Mar Village, a neighborhood of pink supporters who come out in force every year. Just before the 5-mile point, walkers began the ascent up the notorious Torrey Pines hill (it’s a good thing this State Nature Reserve is so scenic!). Walkers were treated to a beach-front lunch stop at Kellogg Park. The second half of the Day 1 route boasted even more cheering stations, including the Scripps Oceanographic Institute (and all its many branches), with numerous spots along the way. The Mor Furniture supporters and a group of Wells Fargo employees from who came out from Arizona each had private cheering stations, as did La Valencia Hotel and La Jolla Beach/Tennis Club in La Jolla with their huge balloon arch. Many walkers were treated to smooches from the “Kissing Dog” and more lovely sights (and more hills…) through La Jolla, before the final approach to the 3-Day camp at the waterfront Crown Point Shores park.
The Friday night dining tent was warmed up with high-energy entertainment by walkers/singers Eve and Mattie, followed by the Friday night camp show, where male breast cancer survivor Lee Giller moved the audience with his story. We recognized some outstanding 3-Day participants, including the Milestone Award winner, top training walk leader, and top fundraisers.
Walkers set out along the water from camp on Day 2 under sunny skies and quickly warming temps, and were almost immediately greeted by more enthusiastic public and private cheering stations (are you sensing a theme yet? San Diego loves its cheering stations!) Before long, they were on the rise again, into the hilly Sunset Cliffs neighborhood, where they took in more beautiful views of the Pacific stretching to the horizon. The New Balance cheerleaders welcomed walkers to pit stop at Sunset Elementary School. The Young Survivor Coalition (which included some walker and many cheering supporters) rallied the walkers through their second twenty miles. Lunch was at another spectacular waterfront part at Bonita Cove, and walkers leaving the park were gifted with delightful pink gerbera daisies. The route continued along the boardwalk, with many walkers stopping for the endless photo ops, including a certain pair of bow-tied male dancers just outside pit stop 3. A group of adorable therapy dogs greeted the parade of pink, and as if that weren’t sweet enough, there were free treats of ice cream and fresh-baked cookies at Fanuel Street Park, the location of pit stop 4. The final stretch of Day 2 brought walkers back along Bayside Walk, where a special Youth Corps Alumni cheering station was set up, and into camp. Saturday night’s dance party, it seems, made an early preview appearance thanks to the rockin’ live entertainment from cover band Back Stage Pass, which had dozens of folks on their feet in front of the stage. The Saturday camp show featured fun games, moving speeches by young survivor Ann Hattrup, co-survivor/seven-city-walker Stephanie Kohatsu, and the San Diego Youth Corps. And then, of course, came the actual Saturday night dance party, which had the floor and stage packed from start to finish.
Sunday is a highly anticipated Day 3 in San Diego, with the lovely DeAnza Cove as the backdrop for pit stop 1, and the visiting Girl Scouts giving out boxes of Thin Mints was the talk of the morning. It was an endless display of cheering stations, from the MadCaps mother/daughter group before pit 2, to the singing students outside Francis Parker School, so the fun photo props outside Mo’s in Hillcrest. One doozy of a hill climb up Juan St. in Old Town was made easier by multiple cheer spots (fresh free chips and salsa, anyone?) and concluded shortly after at a cozy shaded park for the lunch stop. Even when walkers were still miles out from the finish line, hundreds of family and friends lined the streets at Museum Row and into the downtown area, forming a human chain of spirit and support to energize the weary walkers into the participant finish area.
The setting sun was a multi-colored curtain behind the Closing Ceremony area, where our thousands of walkers, crew members and supporters packed in for the emotional ceremony. Dr. Sheri and our friend Norm Bowling from Susan G. Komen congratulated the San Diego 3-Day family on an amazing $7 million raised.
The conclusion of the 2014 3-Day season was an emotional one, but as we raised the final flag over San Diego, we were bonded with our 3-Day family in all seven of our cities (and beyond), by the mutual promise that we will never give up until we have defeated breast cancer forever. Thank you, 3-Day walkers and crew!