The First-Timers’ Guide to the 3-Day: Saying Yes, Part 1 of 3

The First-Timers’ Guide to the 3-Day is a series featuring blog posts from three brand new Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walkers (Sheilla, Jodie and Crystal). We met the First-Timers earlier this month, and over the next few days, they’re back to tell us about how they got involved with the Komen 3-Day, and what compelled them to finally say yes and sign up to walk for the first time.

Sheilla (Philadelphia 3-Day)susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog first timers guide sheilla

I don’t have any direct family connection with breast cancer. I don’t believe it’s necessary in order to support a cause. It takes passion, dedication, and the desire to help and support others. One motto I follow is, “Let’s not talk about, let’s do something about it.” There are many worthy causes that deserve attention and support, so why breast cancer? I think for me it is about the bond of sisterhood, the ability for women to join together and have a voice, to set aside our differences and to come together for one common reason and desire…to fight for a cure!

I first became aware of the 3-Day a few years ago when I was in the city one day and noticed people walking around dressed in different shades of pink, wearing big smiles, and having so much fun. I asked a few people and learned that it was the Komen 3-Day, and I remember thinking I wanted to do it one day. But you know how it goes; life gets in the way and soon a few years have gone by. I continued to think about doing the 3-Day (I had been getting more involved with breast cancer causes and events and I always thought back to those fun-filled pink walkers I saw in Philly), but the fundraising, the sleeping arrangements (I’m not the camping type), the bathrooms (how would I shower each day?) – all of these aspects of the 3-Day made me nervous.

But then, last summer, I went through a rough break-up which affected me strongly. I was in a pretty dark place, mentally, emotionally and physically. After weeks of feeling so lost, it occurred to me that I needed to focus on something bigger than myself and what I was going through, something that was only positive. My years-long goal of doing the 3-Day became the positive thing that I held onto. It came at the perfect time, by chance. To be able to give back was just what I needed.

But I was still nervous, especially about the fundraising. I called and spoke with Joanne, the Philly 3-Day coach, and she was so positive, encouraging, and informative. She answered all the questions I had, explained the details of the event, and listened as I shared my thoughts. I told her my concerns regarding the fundraising goal and my worries of not reaching it. Joanne shared some ideas and listened to mine. I had a few ideas planned and Joanne felt they were good and would definitely help me get to my goal without a problem. She was very convincing : ) When I got off the phone with her, I felt optimistic and decided I was going to do it. I told myself there was no better time than now to sign up, give it my best, and know that no matter what I am supporting a great cause. I even inspired my sister to sign up to walk with me; together, we’re “Sisters in Pink: Big or Small Save Them All!”

I am so grateful for the experience of being part of the 3-Day community. I know it’s called the 3-Day because that’s when we gather together to walk 60 miles as one union, sharing all the fears, tears and cheers, but I think it’s really a journey because I am not focused just on October 2-4. Every single day I am mindful of the cause as I put on my sneakers to walk with my dog, lead or participate in training walks, look at the ribbons displayed around me, talk to others about my experience, etc. I think my impression now is so much more than what I originally thought. It’s going to be fun, I don’t doubt it, but it’s also going to be so much more than I imagined: life-changing, memorable, love-filled, joyous, tear-jerking, incredible.

 

Be sure to visit the blog again tomorrow, when we’ll hear all about First-Timer Jodie, and what led her to the 3-Day!

 

3-Day April Meet-up Round-up

April was a busy month for our Susan G. Komen 3-Day® coaches, who were pounding the pavement at meet-ups and training events, meeting and inspiring walkers for the Komen 3-Day events coming up in just a few months.  Let’s see some of the fun and inspiring local events that our 3-Day® family held in April!

Michigan

On Saturday, April 11, walkers and crew members gathered at the New Balance store in Farmington Hills for the Michigan 3-Day 16-week Training Kick-Off Event. A beautiful (if slightly chilly) morning saw nearly 40 walkers head out on a 4-mile training walk, while crew members patrolled the route on their bikes and motorcycles. We even had a cheer station and a sweep van! After the walk, participants enjoyed some snacks and shopping.

MI tkoe_2015

Twin Cities

Twin Cities 3-Day coach Stephanie hosted a walker and crew Meet-Up on April 1 at Lucky 13 Restaurant in Bloomington. Five new walkers attended and got lots of great tips from our veteran walkers and crew.

Lucky13April1MeetUp

Springtime temps brought these 21 walkers out on April 11 for a Walk & Talk with Coach Stephanie. They enjoyed a 6.5-mile walk around Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis (part of our Day 1 Route).

TC lake walk and talk april

And in keeping with the training spirit, Twin Cities walkers enjoyed a Get Trained Workshop on April 18, hosted by Run n’ Fun, one of the Twin Cities’ local outfitters. Proper shoes are the most important pieces of equipment walkers will need on the 3-Day, so workshop attendees learned about proper shoe fit based on their own body mechanics, and learned that not only is comfort the key but also how the right shoe helps to prevent injuries.

tc april get trained

Seattle

At an April 2 Get Started Meeting at Redmond Library, long-time Seattle (and other cities!) walker William Kline attended in full walking gear—his signature look. He was joined by a few brand new walkers and Tath, a very active training walk leader in the Lynnwood area.

Redmond GSM_4.2

On April 18 at Seward Park, Seattle 3-Dayers met up for a Walk & Talk with Coach Aubrey. They looped around the peninsula, which offered 2.5 miles of Lake Washington and Mt. Rainier views. The walker on the far right (Tina Marie B.) came all the way from Oregon to walk with the group!

Seward Park_Walk & Talk_4.18

Another Walk & Talk, held on April 30 in Renton, included a 2-mile out-and-back along Lake Washington. The group included two members of the Breastketeers and three first-time walkers.

Coulon Park on Lake Washington_Walk & Talk_4.30

Philadelphia

Over 30 Philadelphia 3-Dayers met up on April 18 at the Philly 3-Day 24-week Training Kick-Off. Hosted by the New Balance store in Cherry Hill, NJ, the event included a training walk and some great how-to demonstrations for packing gear and pitching a perfect pink tent. A great day!

PHL 24 week TKO april

Atlanta

The Atlanta 3-Day folks had their first Walk & Talk of the season on April 4, with wonderful training walk leader Coleen and 5 new walkers. It was a beautiful day, and it was great for these enthusiastic walkers to get some walking shoes on and meet some new friends!

ATL April 4 Walk and Talk

On April 11, Coach Susan hosted a great Get Started Meeting with 3 new walkers and one who was thinking about registering. Susan shared, “We had terrific conversations about training as they were most concerned about how in the world they were going to walk 60 miles! After the formal meeting, we spent even more time answering questions and getting to know one another. It was great to see everyone come together and make connections with each other.”

ATL april 11 GSM

Dallas/Fort Worth

At a Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day meet-up on April 2, Coach Gayla was joined 80-year-old veteran walker and extreme fundraiser, Ralph M. He helped welcome and inspire other walkers at Luke’s Locker in Highland Village.

4-2-15 Meet Up Luke's Locker HV

Gayla was back at another Luke’s Locker location on Saturday, April 4 for a Walk & Talk, accompanied by training walk leader and team captain of Angels for the Cure, Debby R. as she led a 3-mile training walk.

4-4-15 W&T Luke's Locker Plano

April 11 was a busy Saturday for Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Dayers, starting with a 3-mile Walk & Talk with training walk leader Sheryl C. and many members of team STEPS in Plano. Later in the day, the Get Started Meeting at Methodist Hospital in Richardson drew a crowd of brand new walkers who were encouraged by amazing team captains and veteran walkers.

4-11-15 GSM Richardson

The Greater Fort Worth Susan G. Komen® affiliate held its Race for the Cure on April 25, and the Komen 3-Day community was well-represented (there were many more walkers not in the photo). Even folks who weren’t walking or running in the race were still showing their 3-Day spirit as volunteers (Pink Hair Guy is a popular photo op every year).

4-25-15 GFWRFTC PHG3

San Diego

April was actually a quiet month in San Diego, in terms of local events, but things will ramp up in May. (Next month’s Round-up will include some great shots of the San Diego 3-Day reunion held on Saturday, May 2…stay tuned!).

If you couldn’t make it to a meet-up in April, don’t worry! There are still local events for every 3-Day city in May, and more and more training walks are being added every day. Visit the 3-Day website to find a local event near you.

51 Miles, 51 Years of Marriage: Meet Dennis and Sandy

For Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participants, Day 3 is a big deal. You’ve collectively raised millions of dollars to help end breast cancer. You’ve slept in pink tents. You’ve eaten countless grahamwiches, quenched your thirst with sports drink, cried at the camp show speeches, and showered on a truck. You’ve met amazing new friends and bonded with the old ones. You’ve proven your incredible dedication to working toward a world without breast cancer. And, let’s not forget that you’ve walked an average of 20 miles each day; some walkers reach this point feeling victorious and undefeated, others feel exhausted and ready to quit. But you don’t quit. You keep going. You put one foot after the other, you lean on others for support, maybe you take a quick ride in a sweep van, because you know that by being there, just by being at the 3-Day, your presence means making a very real impact on somebody else’s life.

Dennis and Sandy M. are similar to their fellow Komen 3-Day walkers, but for them, Day 3 on this year’s Philadelphia 3-Day® wasn’t just Day 3. It was their 51st wedding anniversary, and we talked to them this weekend to learn a few lessons about the many ways that their marriage has been just like the 3-Day.

Dennis and Sandy McGee celebrated 51 years of Marriage on Day 3 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day

Dennis and Sandy McGee celebrated 51 years of Marriage on Day 3 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day

Sandy and Dennis met when they were teenagers; Sandy was 16 and Denny was nine days shy of turning 18. It was the summer of 1962. Sandy recalls, “On a Saturday night, my cousin invited me to go on a babysitting job with her and meet the guy who my cousin fancied, who lived downstairs. When we met, we both liked each other and started seeing each other on the weekends and talking on the phone.” Dennis bought her an engagement ring for Christmas, and they were married on September 14, 1963.

Like many newlyweds, the start of their marriage had a few trying times. “We were very poor and only had six wedding gifts, three of which we could not use. One, as I recall, was a shower curtain, and the apartment we rented had no shower, just a tub,” Sandy laughs. “We had some really hard times. We didn’t have much of anything. What we did have was each other and our family.”

After five years of marriage, Sandy was pregnant with Tammy, their first daughter, and Dennis had been drafted into the army. He was wounded in July of 1969 and came close to death. “He is my hero, and the most humble man I know. He is my best friend,” said Sandra.

Four and a half decades later, these best friends decided to walk the 3-Day after seeing the passion that their daughter Tammy had about her 3-Day experience. “When she speaks of the women she has met while walking, her eyes just light up. After I heard her speak at a fundraiser, I said to myself, ‘I want to know that passion, I want to meet those women,’” said Sandy. Sandy and Tammy walked together in the Tampa Bay 3-Day last year and Dennis, even though he wasn’t registered to walk, trained with Sandy and Tammy, logging over 500 training miles. This year, he decided to walk the 3-Day. “I figured if I was going that far, I should do the walk and get credit for it,” said Dennis. We caught up with Tammy, who has been married for 22 years herself, and she said “Every day they just want to spend more time together. They still hold hands. All during our training walks, they hold hands.”

Dennis found this rose on Day 2 of the 3-Day, and carried it from the final pit stop to camp where his darling Sandy was waiting.

Dennis found this rose on Day 2 of the 3-Day, and carried it from the final pit stop to camp where his darling Sandy was waiting.

How exactly, is 51 years of marriage like the 3-Day? “Well, in marriage as well as in the walk, you just keep going and supporting each other even when the going gets tough and the end seems so far off,” said Dennis. “Sometimes it’s just one foot after the other, and sometimes you are having so much fun you don’t even know you’re walking or how far you have walked. Our marriage is like that,” said Sandy. “Just keep walking. It’s going to be not so fun sometimes, then boom – the very best time you’ve ever had happens.”

Sandy and Dennis both said that a good marriage is about always treating each other with respect and kindness. “When people ask me where the better half is at, my answer is that there is no better half in our relationship. We are fully equals. You get back what you put out,” said Dennis. Their equality is obvious when Sandy replies with her own response, that one of the most important things in marriage is to show each other respect. “I can honestly say the first man I ever dated turned out to be my soulmate. I love him more today than I did 50 years ago.”

Sandy and Dennis at Mile 51 of the Philly 3-Day, celebrating 51 years of marriage. Photo courtesy of their daughter, Tammy S.

Sandy and Dennis at Mile 51 of the Philly 3-Day, celebrating 51 years of marriage. Photo courtesy of their daughter, Tammy S.

As they stopped at Mile 51 to celebrate 51 incredible years of marriage, the unbreakable bond between Sandy and Dennis is apparent as they lovingly embrace. At this moment, time has stopped for the couple, and here, at Mile 51, it’s all about love, endurance, and respect. As Dennis said, “The trials that you conquer together will make the relationship stronger and the commitment to each other deeper. Do not dwell on past problems and mistakes, but learn from them, and move forward as a pair.”

We were honored today to share their story; one that we can all learn from as a true lesson in endurance, teamwork, and commitment, proven to be unshakeable after 51 amazing years.

This photo shows Sandy and Dennis 10 years ago, with a favorite quote: "If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I would never have to live a day without you." -Winnie the Pooh

This photo shows Sandy and Dennis 10 years ago, with a favorite quote: “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I would never have to live a day without you.” -Winnie the Pooh