The Philadelphia 3-Day Success

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® started in Philadelphia with a bang on Friday morning, October 4, at the Willow Grove Mall in a warm, pleasant sunrise, and the anticipation and excitement of starting the physically demanding and personally challenging 60-mile course that wound its way through the greater Philadelphia area. Many first-time Komen 3-Day walkers seemed excited and a bit nervous about the daunting task, but the crowd of 1200 walkers, over 350 crew members, and family and friends were quickly engulfed by the spirit of the event that would raise $3.2 million to help end breast cancer!

The challenges of Day 1 often include a few new blisters as the day wears on, and the Medical Crew was in full force, assisting those who needed a little extra help. The sports medicine volunteer crew members were heaven-sent as they provided help in stretching out the sore and aching muscles that only 22.9 miles will bring. Though the heat index was high, some of the beautiful views of the Schuylkill River made up for it, and the trek up and around the Philadelphia Art Museum started the walkers to camp, held in the Philadelphia Convention Center. After some well deserved dinner, the walkers and crew were treated to a camp show of the day’s events, games by presenting sponsor Bank of America, recognition of Philadelphia’s top fundraisers, and a special Milestone Award, which was given to Andie Summers, a nine-year participant who has raised over $73,000 to date (and counting!). Congratulations to Andie for her dedicated efforts for the 3-Day®. She is also the captain of Team XTU Xtra Mile, which was Philadelphia’s second-highest fundraising team with $58,534 raised just this year.

Day 2 and the 22.3-mile leg of the 60-mile journey started out with a couple of hills (no problem, right?), but the scenery of West Fairmont Park made up for that as well. The heat index was high again on Saturday, and besides two official cheering stations, the course was dotted with private cheering stations in the neighborhoods of Bala Cynwyd, Nerberth, Haverford, Penn Wynne, and Wynnewood. The New Balance-sponsored cheerleaders from Garden Valley helped liven the group at Pit Stop 2. The camp show capped off a great day with moving speeches by Ellen Gunther, a co-survivor, and Sharon Slosarik, a young survivor. A little dance party never hurt anyone, and Philadelphia knows how to dance!

Sunday’s 14.4-mile route was exciting as almost the entire group of walkers lined up for the opening of the route, a sight to behold. Walkers worked their way through downtown Philadelphia and enjoyed the cheering stations at Passyunk Square, University of the Arts, and FDR. The Eagles’ Drumline happened to be encouraging the walkers to finish strong at the Navy Yard with their professional beats. A large crowd of friends and family gathered to cheer on these dedicated walkers and fundraisers, and gathered for a moving Closing Ceremony in great weather, honoring the walkers and crew of the Philadelphia 3-Day and the breast cancer survivors. Thank you Philadelphia and we’ll see you next year!

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“I Never Felt Alone”

Becky G. smiles despite a physical setback on the Boston 3-Day.

Becky G. smiles despite a physical setback on the Boston 3-Day

Somewhere on the latter half of a draining and hot Day 2 on the Boston 3-Day, I wandered into Pit Stop 4. There was Becky, frustrated by an aching knee.  Not an uncommon problem after so many miles, but like all those who attempt the grueling 60 miles of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, there were layers of stories in her walk that never first appeared on the surface. It was only later that her reflection on the experience stopped me:

“I lost my mom to breast cancer 12 years ago.  Everyone who knew her knew how she could light up a room when she walked in. Everyone always commented on her smiling eyes, and I am lucky to have had those eyes smile upon me.”

Walker Becky G. is embraced by her daughter after walking 60 miles on the Komen 3-Day®

Walker Becky G. is embraced by her daughter after walking 60 miles on the Komen 3-Day

“And so I have chosen to follow my heart, to make a choice, to join an amazing team of women, to do something about it, to accept support, to FEEL the pain, and to walk. So here I am now, several days after finishing the Boston 3-Day. I have to be honest, I wasn’t exactly prepared for this, physically or emotionally. I wasn’t ready to hear all of the stories of love lost, to see survivors walking beside me, to have strangers look me in the eye with such love and gratitude for what I was doing and say ‘Thank You’ and to feel so physically defeated that I didn’t think I could take another step. I also never felt alone. I felt the closest I have to Mom in the 12 years that she has been gone, and I know that what I was feeling this weekend was love. Thousands of strangers — walkers, crew, staff, cheerleaders — united for one cause. So we don’t have to endure another life lost, another heartbreak, or another child left behind. We believe in the cause, and we believe in each other, and we believe that this fight is worth all of the pain that we endured. I met some amazing men and women this weekend, and there is no doubt that they will be in my heart forever. This is only the first of many 3-Days.”  - Becky G, Woodstock, CT

Becky's team finishes the 2013 Boston 3-Day

Becky’s team finishes the 2013 Boston 3-Day

“The General” Marches On

Gwen M. (aka "The General") smiles on Day 1 of the Boston 3-Day in 2013

Gwen M. (aka “The General”) smiles on Day 1 of the Boston 3-Day in 2013.

When the women said, “This is The General,” I had to ask. “Gwen here works as an access nurse at Mass General for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients” her friends responded. Gwen M, from Boston, has been working in a key position at The Gillette Center for Breast Cancer,  caring for women at a time when there are unanswered questions and an unknown future.

Gwen is surrounded by a solid group of wild women on the Susan G. Komen Boston 3-Day and by chance I was photographing in Cambridge on Day 3 at a cheering station when Gwen waltzed in. She immediately pulled Nancy P. (an original member of their team “Wild Women Originals” and cancer survivor) out of her wheelchair and waltzed with her!

Gwen M. (aka “The General”) dances with close friend, cancer survivor, and original member of “Wild Women Originals” Nancy P. on the Boston 3-Day 2013.

Thank you Gwen for your inspiration, warm smile and dedication!