One Big Celebration That Lasts for 3 Days – an Atlanta 3-Day Recap from Guest Blogger Cati S.

Cati Stone is the Executive Director for Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta, and a breast cancer survivor. This year, she was honored to be one of twenty individuals selected as Models of Courage in Ford’s Warriors in Pink® campaign, recognizing inspiring breast cancer survivors and co-survivors. And if all of those things don’t make Cati incredible enough, she has also been a faithful Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker for several years, and was nice enough to share some thoughts after walking in the Komen 3-Day in Atlanta earlier this month.

 

“This year marked my 4th time walking 60 miles in the Atlanta 3-Day. My amazing teammates from Team Diamond Stone (also known as the Boo Bees) have always included those closest to me: my Daddy, my sisters, my mother in law, my best girlfriends.  We talk all year long about preparing for the 3-Day.  We talk about fundraising and blisters and fundraising and logistics (and did I mention fundraising?).  We talk about how much fun we had the prior years and about how much fun we are going to have the next time.  And then the event happens, and we take a year’s worth of preparation and turn it into one big celebration that lasts for 3 days.  We celebrate my having beaten breast cancer, but we also celebrate birthdays and new babies and just about anything else we can think of.  We literally sing and dance our way down the street (this year’s dance du jour being the “Tight Pants Dance” from Jimmy Fallon’s show) and then come home at night and sing and dance some more.  We are loud and silly and we don’t care who knows it!  But we care deeply about finding a cure for breast cancer.  In fact, this year we were recognized as the 9th largest fundraising team for the Atlanta 3 Day!  In our 4 years, we have raised over $100,000, and we’re not finished yet!susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog cati stone models of courage warriors in pink atlanta

“A highlight to this year’s walk included walking with some very special new friends – Aimee, Tracy and Karen, all of whom are fellow breast cancer survivors and Ford Models of Courage.  We all met last spring when Ford brought us together to be a part of their amazing Warriors in Pink program that raises money for breast cancer (over $125 million so far!).  I fell in love with these ladies instantly, and walking with them in this year’s 3-Day heightened the entire experience for me.  They are true warriors.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog cati stone models of courage warriors in pink atlanta

“Tracy’s daughter made this video to show what the 3 Day meant to her, and I think it sums things up nicely.   It truly is a beautiful experience.  http://youtu.be/9eDpqj76FgE

Thank you, Cati, for sharing your experience with us! We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta again next year!

Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s

With their pink head boppers, pink boas and pink tutus, the three members of team Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s look like many other walkers on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. Talk with them, and their stories are also very familiar – they walk for loved ones and fellow coworkers who have been lost to cancer or who are survivors. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover a company who so whole-heartedly backs its associates that in 2014, they will make the single-largest donation to a Komen 3-Day team….ever.

Pacesetters Big Ol’ Shanty’s at the Susan G. Komen Atlanta 3-Day

Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s at the Susan G. Komen Atlanta 3-Day

The Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s get their name from the amazing company they work for, Pacesetter Steel Service, which happens to be located on Big Shanty Road in Kennesaw, GA. Steve Leebow founded Pacesetter Steel Service in 1977. As a young man, Steve worked in his family’s steel distribution center in New Jersey, where his passion for the industry was cultivated. By 1977, Steve ventured out and opened his own company in Atlanta, GA. Through the first 10 years, a small but dedicated group of Pacesetter associates established a steady routine of long hours, customer focus, and teamwork to grow the company. Many associates who helped build Pacesetter from its early beginnings still work for the company. Aviva Leebow, Steve’s daughter, was recently named the new CEO of Pacesetter Steel Service.

It’s Aviva who started the 3-Day team in 2013. “My grandmother, Joan Leebow, died at the age of 44 from breast cancer,” Aviva begins. “I never knew her. I grew up inspired by her story and everything I learned about her. Her world was focused on caring, sharing and giving. For my 30th birthday, I wanted to do something impactful. I chose the 3-Day. This is something she absolutely would have loved to have seen. I’ve always wanted to walk in her honor.”

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While her grandmother was her original inspiration for wanting to walk the Atlanta 3-Day, Aviva mentions a number of other loved ones – including fellow Pacesetter associates – who have been lost to cancer. So last year, she started a small but mighty team with one fellow coworker, Corri Green. “Half way through the walk last year, Corri and I looked at each other and said, ‘We are doing this next year,’” laughs Aviva. So here they are in 2014 – hitting the pavement again, and they’ve gained a third team member, their friend, Jessi Whittemore.

 So far this season, Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s has raised nearly $10,000. Both Aviva and Corri applaud the company and acknowledge that they couldn’t do this without their support. Their fellow Pacesetter associates hold fundraisers for months leading up to the event, giving of their time, their money and their support for these women who will walk 60 miles over three days.  On Friday, all Associates at Pacesetter headquarters took an aerial photo of themselves using a droid, rooting the team on to keep the team motivated while walking.  And Steve believes so much in the power of teamwork and in the Susan G. Komen mission that he is going to make sure Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s raises at least $50,000 this year. Utilizing money from a fund created in memory of Claudia B. Waters, Pacesetter wrote a check to the 3-Day for more than $40,000.

Founder Steve Leebow shares the very touching reasons behind Pacesetters generous donation.

Founder Steve Leebow shares the very touching reasons behind Pacesetter’s generous donation.

Steve visited the Atlanta campsite on Saturday night to share a little about why he is giving so generously to the 3-Day. “Fifteen years ago, one of our very first associates in our company, Claudia B. Waters, had the misfortune of getting breast cancer. And the entire company pulled together to try to do whatever we could to help her face the challenge,” Steve recounts. “Our many years of friendship with Claudia truly touched our lives. Her vitality was a constant source of encouragement to each Pacesetter associate, our suppliers and our customers. We miss her steadfastness, her dedication, her life.”

Aviva asks that we also recognize that there are many other Pacesetter associates who have battled breast cancer as well as Pacesetter family members.

As Aviva tends to some hot spots on her feet at Lunch on Day 2 of the 2014 Atlanta 3-Day, she describes an experience the team had a few miles earlier. “We were in Whole Foods and a woman saw us coming out of the bathrooms with our pink tutus,” she shares. “She came up to us and said, ‘I’m officially clear as of 11 days ago! Thank you for walking.’ It’s those moments when you know and see the effect this walk has. It makes it all worth it.”

Corri agrees. “We’ve already committed ourselves to next year,” she says with a big smile.

Thank you, Pacesetters Steel Service and team Pacesetter’s Big Ol’ Shanty’s. You are helping bring us closer to a world without breast cancer.

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The 2014 Susan G. Komen Atlanta 3-Day Wrap Up

Congratulations, Atlanta – you did it! You rocked the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® this past weekend.

Day 1_OpeningWe kicked things off in Stone Mountain Park early Friday morning. Although it was chilly, we knew the day would be beautiful and we enjoyed an inspiring Opening Ceremony. We heard some really touching stories from our fellow participants and were uplifted with a special tribute sung by two incredible local artists. Dr. Sheri and our eight members of the survivors’ circle led us out onto the route, where we enjoyed views of the beautiful park and the lovely, clean scent of pine. It really felt like autumn was upon us!

Soon after we refueled at Pit Stop 1, we came into an energetic cheering station set up along Main Street of Stone Mountain Village. Friends and family came out in droves to cheer us on and give us a little pep in our step. We rocked and rolled to some great 80’s beats at Pit Stop 2 and snacked on string cheese and grahamwiches. At Lunch, we took some time to change socks, attend to any hot spots that were popping up on our feet, and were entertained by a DJ playing some great music. As we came into the home stretch of Day 1, we were greeted with picturesque views of the Atlanta city skyline, and at mile 21.4, we reached our indoor(!) campsite for the weekend at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Day 1_RouteWe snapped photos of the 20-mile banner, made up some trail mix snacks in the 3-Day Lounge, rested our weary feet in the massage chairs at the Bank of America tent and picked up Instagram #laceup365 photos at the New Balance tent. And we enjoyed the delicious and decadent mac & cheese for dinner – on National Pasta Day, no less! During the Friday night camp show, we recognized some our top performers of 2014, including the Atlanta top fundraisers and our Milestone Award Winner, Mary Anne W.

Day 2 started out as bright and crisp as the day before, and we quickly made our way to Pit Stop 1 in Midtown West: The Wild Wild Breasts of Atlanta! We tackled a huge hill before coming into Pit Stop 2, and then kept walking uphill the rest of the day (or at least it felt like it!). The mansions of Atlanta offered a gorgeous backdrop to the route and we wound through some very beautiful neighborhoods. The police were back out again to keep us safe and like always, they were so nice! At Pit Stop 4, the Ford Warriors in Pink paid us a visit and offered pink temporary tattoos, great photo ops, and free scarves.

Day 2_RouteBack at the GWCC, we enjoyed an evening with friends and family, sharing our stories from the route and showing them our home-away-from-home for the weekend. During the Saturday night camp show, we heard some really inspiring stories, including one from a young survivor, Julie B. And in typical 3-Day style, we danced the night away at the 3-Day Dance Party. Isn’t it amazing how good it feels to dance, even after 41.7 miles?!

Day 3_RouteAs we packed up our gear and folded up our tents on the morning of Day 3, we knew it was going to be a beautiful day; we had the anticipation of the Closing Ceremony to help carry us through the final 15.3 miles. Piedmont Park was a gorgeous setting for Grab & Go A and the picture-perfect weather didn’t hurt, either. We didn’t have to wait long to come upon a cheering station this morning; spectators were set up at John Howell Park and were handing out delicious goodies and clapping like crazy. As we made our way into the lunch stop at Paideia School, DJ Ross N. was rocking the tunes for the third day in a row, to give us something to jam to. The crew there made sure we knew we were in the final stretch of the weekend – just 5.3 more miles to go!

HoldingThose final miles went by quickly and we walked into Turner Field, cheered on by our loved ones and fellow walkers and crew members. There was quite a reception for the last walkers on Day 3 – it seemed like the smiling faces, cheers and high-fives stretched for miles! As we lined up to walk into the Closing Ceremony and be reunited with our families and friends again, we felt the butterflies of anticipation. Walking that final “victory lap” over to the stage is always emotional and we felt the weight of all 60 miles, the memories of those we’ve lost, and the tributes and stories of those we honor and celebrate.

ClosingAs the weekend drew to a close, we learned that with 1,100 walkers and 300 crew members, we had raised more than $3.2 million dollars in the fight against breast cancer. We will never give up!

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