Coincidence or Destiny?

Christa C. stops on the route on Day 3 of the Chicago 3-Day

Christa C. stops on the route on Day 3 of the Chicago 3-Day

Here on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, I learned very quickly that I needed to be ready with a camera sometime between 6 and 7 o’clock for a very special event: The Last Walker. While normally the hero of an event like this is the first walker, Dr. Sheri reminds us at The Opening Ceremony that “this is a walk, not a race.” In that spirit, the last walker is celebrated like a returning warrior, encouraged by the entire camp rising to its feet, cheering, clapping.

Last night’s grand entrance of Christa C. from Chicago brought the participants streaming to the flagpole to the point that it was difficult to find my usual position for a photograph. Christa, a 7-month survivor of breast cancer herself, was accompanied by motorcycle-riding Route Safety Crew Member Karen R., also from Chicago. Why the escort? “I saw Christa at about Mile 15 today,” Karen almost yelled in my ear over the chanting crowd. “I noticed her shirt, which looked too familiar. Then I noticed her shoes. I asked her, ‘Where did you get those?’ She responded that she bought them from another unknown breast cancer survivor at an estate sale in Chicago. They were mine!” Christa, in her jungle safari hat with pink streamers agreed. “When I bought them from the estate sale, I wanted to wear them in honor of this unknown breast cancer survivor. I had no idea she’d be protecting me on the route!”

Karen R. from Chicago and Route Safety Crew embraces Christa C. who bears the flag of the Chicago 3-Day at the end of Day 2

Route Safety Crew member Karen R. from Chicago embraces Christa C. who bears the flag of the Chicago 3-Day at the end of Day 2

Call it what you want. Coincidence. Luck. Fate. Destiny. For Christa and Karen in Chicago, two strangers have again been brought together by a common cause, a touching and recurring theme on the Komen 3-Day Series.

Donna Lawson: Compassion, Community, Commitment

Donna Lawson was recognized on the Susan G. Komen Chicago 3-Day with the Milestone Award for her efforts in finding a cure for breast cancer

Donna Lawson was recognized on the Susan G. Komen Chicago 3-Day with the Milestone Award for her efforts in the fight to end breast cancer

When asked what was the secret to her fundraising success, this year’s Susan G. Komen Chicago 3-Day Milestone Award winner Donna Lawson simply replied: “I am blessed with thoughtful and generous people in my life who have continued to support me year after year . . . Some start asking if I am [participating in the 3-Day] again at the beginning of the year so they can plan for a donation later. I send letters through the old-fashioned US Postal Service with a self-addressed envelope and a donation form.  My letter provides an update on the last walk, a ‘thank you’ to those who have donated previously, facts about breast cancer, and Susan G. Komen® efforts.  I always send a hand-written thank you note to each person who donated, no matter what the amount.”

Donna’s humble and personal approach reflects her personality and is likely a driving factor in both her motivation for fighting breast cancer and her substantial fundraising ability. Her efforts, along with her children and teams, have topped $100,000 over 12 Komen 3-Day events!  “I am a breast cancer survivor, and I knew a few people who had done the walk previously,” recounts Donna.  “After the first 3-Day our family was addicted to the feelings during our first experience and wanted to continue that as long as we could.”

Donna Lawson waits backstage in preparation for the Opening Ceremony at the Chicago 3-Day

Donna Lawson waits backstage in preparation for the Opening Ceremony at the Chicago 3-Day

Seasoned as she is in the 3-Day® and in fundraising, Donna encourages new walkers to “absorb and enjoy” the feeling of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, to meet people and hear their stories and of course, to keep dry socks in plastic bags.  She reiterates, “If you are not moved by the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, I would be shocked!” What does the Chicago 3-Day mean to Donna Lawson? “Compassion. Community.  Commitment.”

Congratulations to the 2013 Chicago 3-Day Milestone Award winner Donna Lawson!

Top Fundraisers for the 2013 Chicago 3-Day

We had a great day on the Chicago route today, with Day 1 giving us excellent weather and beautiful scenery through the Chicago Botanical Gardens and taking us near the lake. After some electrifying entertainment tonight with dancing and singing, the top fundraisers for the Susan G. Komen Chicago 3-Day for 2013 were announced.

Top Fundraising Team: Walk With Me in the Arms of an Angel, $44,476; Lauren Bell (Captain)

Lauren Bells receives the award for the Top Team Fundraising at the Chicago 3-Day

Lauren Bell receives the award for the Top Team Fundraising (“Walk With Me in the Arms of an Angel”) at the Chicago 3-Day

Top Crew Fundraiser: Laurie Shaw-DeTreville from Route Safety, $4325

Lauren Bell receives the award for the Top Crew Fundraiser for the Chicago 3-Day

Laurie Shaw-DeTreville receives the award for the Top Crew Fundraiser for the Chicago 3-Day

Top Individual Fundraiser: Lauran Bromley, $19,165 (Team captain of “Ta Ta For Now” Team)

Lauran Bromley was recognized for her amazing contribution to finding a cure for breast cancer

Though not able to attend the Camp Show, Lauran Bromley was recognized for her amazing contribution to the fight to end breast cancer

Great job to all participants for their amazing efforts in fundraising to fight breast cancer! We’re looking forward to an awesome day on the route tomorrow in Chicago.