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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To our 3-Day Family: What Gives You Strength?

Every day, we’re moved by the amazing people in our Komen Family who exhibit such passionate and dedicated displays of strength. While we celebrate our 3-Day Family every day, this month, we’re highlighting what gives you strength. Together with Susan G. Komen®, we’ve asked several Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participants in Seattle (and soon in Atlanta, Dallas / Fort Worth, and San Diego) to share what gives them strength. We invite you to do the same, by commenting here on the 3-Day blog or by sharing with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Follow along on the official Susan G. Komen Facebook page to see more stories like Darrell’s:

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Congratulations to Stephanie C., the Philadelphia 3-Day Milestone Award Winner!

Congratulations to Stephanie C., the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day Milestone Award Winner! The 2014 Philadelphia 3-Day is Stephanie’s 7th 3-Day, after having done her first 3-Day in Philadelphia in 2006. Stephanie has also crewed one time in Philadelphia in 2012, an experience that she really enjoyed, noting, “I was on trash clean-up and I loved it.”

Over the years, Stephanie has raised over $135,000; an incredible amount that has no doubt helped change many lives. What’s one of Stephanie’s fundraising tricks? “Do something that is FUN! I hold a golf outing each year and each year I have been able to increase sponsorship fees because I ensure my guests enjoy the day. I now have a following that I believe I will be able to sustain as long as I have the energy,” Stephanie said. Stephanie started hosting the golf outings in 2009, and they end up being big fundraisers for her, sometimes netting more than $20,000.

Like many others who embark on their 3-Day journey, Stephanie joined the 3-Day after a friend who had been touched by breast cancer asked her to walk. “My motto is always that I will try something once and if I don’t like it I don’t have to do it again. I got injured on my first 3-Day in 2006, so I waited two years to walk and my inspiration since then has been all those that have been afflicted by this dreaded disease,” said Stephanie.

As a seasoned 3-Dayer, what is it about the 3-Day that keeps Stephanie coming back? Stephanie describes the moment she knew was coming back when “survivors walked into Villanova stadium after my first 3-Day. I had trained and trained and trained and it was not real until I looked around as all the participants took off their sneakers to pay tribute to the survivors who had the strength to do the walk. It was a humbling and overwhelming experience and even after six walks – I still cry.” (So do we, Stephanie.)

When asked to share her best advice for those new to the 3-Day family, Stephanie said to never underestimate the importance of stretching, and above all, to have fun. “The most important thing is to have fun. I talk to new people and enjoy my surroundings (especially when walking in new places). Anyone who is out there walking is blessed and I am thankful that God has given me the strength and tenacity to make the trek each year. Sixty miles is nothing compared to what those that are battling cancer deal with.”

After raising $135,000 and walking over 360 miles total, Stephanie has one more thing to tell you. “Remember – you make a difference. No matter how small – it adds up to be immense,” she said. We couldn’t agree more.