Seattle’s Pink Kilt

William K from Redmond, Washington, awaits the Opening Ceremony at the 2013 Seattle 3-Day

William K from Redmond, Washington, awaits the Opening Ceremony at the 2013 Seattle 3-Day

“Everyone recognizes the Backpack Guy,” mentions a pink-clad walker in the darkness of the Seattle Center. “He’s been doing this forever, and we even saw him in Tampa Bay last year!” The pink boas, the tutus, the extraordinary amount of pink necklaces that would make a rapper proud are the norm out here on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. It’s usually also safe to say that most participants are either directly or indirectly affected by breast cancer, and it is common to find man cancer survivors and even those in treatment out braving the elements and pushing their physical limits for the cause.

William K from Redmond, Washington, had no ties.

William K greets Susan G. Komen walkers on Day 1 of the Seattle 3-Day

William K greets walkers on Day 1 of the Seattle 3-Day

In his 9th year of walking the Seattle 3-Day, he has donned a pink kilt (a ‘Utilikit’), some seriously sturdy leather boots, and an unmistakeable backpack.  Not a small bag on his back or a fanny pack, mind you, but a full backpacking-style backpack. “It slows me down,” William mentioned in the pink light of the Opening Ceremony, with the Space Needle in the background. That and the large wrist weights that look like a superhero’s outfit. “Oh yes, the wrist weights,” adds William, noticing that I am staring at them. “They really help make your hands feel better.” That would make sense, since a lot of walkers notice the swollen hands that develop from swinging back and forth for 60 miles. After a good look at him, he appears something like a Scottish soldier with a serious penchant for pink. The overwhelmingly female crowd loves him, though, and he has become a staple to the annual event in Seattle.

William K in his pink kilt strides through the Ballard locks on his way to the Seattle Center and Closing Ceremony

William K in his pink kilt strides through the Ballard locks on his way to the Seattle Center and Closing Ceremony

“I’m a systems engineer in Redmond, but when I started, I had no connection to breast cancer. It was just a lot of fun,” says William between ‘hellos’ to people who recognize him as they pass. “Since I started though, I’ve had my mom and a sister diagnosed with breast cancer, so now it’s become very relevant.”

As a male with no initial connection to breast cancer, William still encourages other men and women to become involved, even if they don’t know someone directly. “I never worried about wearing the pink of the 3-Day, and it’s really easy to get involved! I would advise people to stand out, have fun, and make a strong statement!” Go William! He and 1,100 walkers and 300 crew members will wrap up the 60-mile route today that has raised $2.9 million to help end breast cancer!

William K awaits with Komen 3-Day® walkers at the beginning of the route on Day 2 of the Seattle 3-Day

William K awaits with Komen 3-Day® walkers at the beginning of the route on Day 2 of the Seattle 3-Day

William K embraces a fellow walker on the 2013 Seattle 3-Day

William K embraces a fellow walker on the 2013 Seattle 3-Day

Tractors, Pirates, and Breast Cancer

If you happen to be in Seattle this weekend and see a pink tractor being driven by a pirate, not to worry. These things seem to happen on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. David and Wendy N from Snohomish, Washington, have had many experiences that have led them to raise awareness for breast cancer in this piratey, pink way. Wendy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, beginning her tradition of walking the 60-mile route in 2006 with her best friend. David had a close call with his own “lumps and bumps,” and was, in fact, the reason he had originally met Wendy over the phone, over his own health concerns. Their common friends had led them together first over the phone, and then in person on the night before Halloween, where they had their first date…as pirates.

David and Wendy N support the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day walkers in their pirate regalia

David and Wendy N support the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day walkers in their pirate regalia

David started by walking the 60-mile walking route as well, an annual celebration to raise funds for breast cancer research and a physical challenge for anyone wanting to participate. “We decided that we would get married at the end of Day 2 on the event in 2009,” explained David. “We were married in our pirate outfits.” Of course they were, and it happened in a sea of pink-clad walkers who were more than happy to celebrate the joining of two strong people. (You can see the full ceremony on YouTube, under “Seattle Breast Cancer Pirate Wedding.”) The ceremony was officiated by none other tha, Barry Long, the host of the Halloween party of their first date and a man who happens to own the world’s record for the highest bungee jump in a wheelchair from a helicopter (and from a fixed structure).

David's pink tractor, "Pinkie Pearl," flies the pink pirate flag and even has its own Facebook page

David’s pink tractor, “Pinkie Pearl,” flies the pink pirate flag and even has its own Facebook page

But why “Pinkie Pearl,” the pink pirate tractor that David is commanding this weekend? “Well, I grew up on a dairy farm,” said David, “and I always wanted an antique tractor. A dairyman wanted to sell one for $500. I gave him $300 and then had to tell Wendy that we owned a tractor that didn’t run.” They wasted no time in painting it the traditional pink of the breast cancer cause and began a crusade to help people understand that they need to have regular checkups at the doctor and get screening. Wendy’s case was unique. “I had a co-worker friend who urged me to go get a mammogram,” said Wendy. “I had a lump on my left breast which turned out to be nothing, but I had cancer on my right breast and there was no lump! She may have saved my life, and now I am a seven-year survivor!” Their mission as pink pirates on tractors is clear: “We are here to raise awareness!”

"Pinkie Pearl" waits patiently on the Seattle 3-Day to raise more awareness about breast cancer

“Pinkie Pearl” waits patiently on the Seattle 3-Day to raise more awareness about breast cancer

The antique tractor "Pinkie Pearl" dons the pink of the breast cancer awareness cause

The antique tractor “Pinkie Pearl” dons the pink of the breast cancer awareness cause

The Seattle 3-Day Top Fundraisers

After an excellent first day on the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day, Dr. Sheri announced the top fundraisers for the event. A huge congratulations to all the participants and crew members who raised money to help end breast cancer! Seattle has some excellent fundraisers that have put some serious energy into raising funds for this great cause.  Here they are:

Top Fundraising Team: Valley Girls & Guys, $324,752; Tina McDonough (Captain)

Top Fundraising Team Award is accepted by

Top Fundraising Team Award is accepted by Captain Tina McDonough for Team “Valley Girls and Guys”

Top Fundraising Crew Member: Lori LeVander, $5,075; Sweep Crew

Though not present, Lori LeVander was given a huge round of applause for her fundraising efforts as the top Crew Member

Though not present, Lori LeVander was given a huge round of applause for her fundraising efforts as the top Crew Member

Top Individual Fundraiser: Loretta Englishbee, $28,162; Team Bee

accepts the award for Top Individual Fundraiser at the Seattle 3-Day

Loretta Englishbee accepts the Milestone award and the Top Individual Fundraiser award at the Seattle 3-Day