The Twin Cities 3-Day Wrapup

The dedicated Susan G. Komen 3-Day® family of the Twin Cities put on an extraordinary event this year, beginning with a gorgeous sunrise over the Opening Ceremony and high spirits as participants moved from Edina into Minneapolis, passing by the scenic Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles. The crews did a fantastic job, and their themed Pit Stops were awesome. A solid 1980s theme at lunch, complete with cutouts of celebrities of the time period, rejuvenated everyone to push through the 20.4-mile route. Diners were rewarded with entertainment, great games at the Camp Show by Bank of America and New Balance, and a stirring speech by John Shinar, who is walking all 14 events this year.

Day 2 proved to be a bit more challenging, as most walkers agree, that “Day 2 is the most difficult!” Newly formed blisters and sometimes old hot spots pop up on Day 2, and the extra length at 22.3 miles added to an arduous journey through the suburbs of Maplewood, Roseville, Shoreview and Vadnais Heights. Fortunately a strong and supportive crew both on the route and back at camp helped to make it possible. The famous couch continued to make its appearance along the route. The drumline and the post-lunch cheering stations were only some of the excellent roadside entertainment options on Saturday. What better way to celebrate the end of 40 miles and Day 2 than with the Satin Dolls and some dinner before hearing the stories of breast cancer survivors and involvement of the Youth Corps?

Most cities in the continental United States heat up at some point during the summer, and this weekend, temperatures climbed to dangerous levels on Sunday, and the starting point in the morning was made from the planned lunch stop. Thank you for being so accommodating! The shortened final day made for hot and humid, but taxing walk into the Participant Finish Area, on the beautiful lawns in front of the State Capitol. We all extend a special thanks to friends and family who made the Closing Ceremony even more special. Overlooking the hundreds of walkers and crew who made the Twin Cities 3-Day spectacular, flag bearers and breast cancer survivors alike could view the sea of support from so many who make this vibrant 3-Day® family in the Twin Cities so special.

Join us in the beautiful Twin Cities in 2014!

MORE PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE TWIN CITIES 3-DAY

A Stormtrooper with a Cause

Kevin D assembles his walking gear on the Twin Cities 3-Day, dressing as a Stormtrooper from Star Wars on his fight to end breast cancer.

Kevin D. assembles his walking gear on the Twin Cities 3-Day

“I’m Eileen’s husband,” says Kevin this morning as he assembled his walking gear before sunrise. “Oh, and I’m a Stormtrooper,” he adds in a nonchalant way. It’s true. I had noticed him stride out of the Opening Ceremony two days ago in his full Star Wars gear, highlighted with a pink and white armband with a dedication to his wife. At first I thought the highly recognizable Star Wars costume was simply another fun way to walk the 60-mile route, but this was a dedication to Eileen who passed away in November 2012. They had met through the 501st, an international Star Wars organization, and both had matching Stormtrooper costumes and often worked with charities to brighten the mood and raise much needed funds.

Kevin D emerges from his pink tent to walk Day 3 of the Twin Cities 3-Day in honor of his wife

Kevin D. emerges from his pink tent to walk Day 3 of the Twin Cities 3-Day in honor of his wife

“We actually met for the first time in 2006, but she didn’t know who it was because I was in a Star Wars costume!” laughed Kevin. “We met officially one year later.” He flashed the photograph of him–very unrecognizable–in one of the variations of the costumes with Eileen smiling beside him, an arm wrapped around the white hardened plastic, unknowing that this would be her future husband. “I proposed to her in a friend’s Darth Vader’s suit!” He also confirmed that with a picture. (He did take off the mask to propose.) The memories, however, brought back tears, and Kevin stood in a field of disassembled pink tents remembering the legacy of his wife.

Twin Cities 3 Day Storm Trooper Breast Cancer Awareness Star Wars

Kevin D. embraces a neighboring walker at camp on the Twin Cities 3-Day as they remember his wife Eileen

“Eileen started walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® many years ago,” explained Kevin. “She has an aunt who is a breast cancer survivor, and she became a strong supporter of the Komen 3-Day over the past several years. This is my first 3-Day, and I’m doing this in her honor. I want to continue to do more around the country.” As we talked, a participant who had been tenting nearby exclaimed that she had known Eileen, and the two embraced remembering this extraordinary woman. The 3-Day offers much more than an opportunity to help others by raising money for breast cancer research; it offers the chance to heal, and we see this over and over as participants who have lost friends, family, wives, husbands, mothers, daughters, aunts, and grandmothers pick up a flag, a banner, a symbol of their loved one and step out onto the street to honor a wonderful life.

Good luck to the Twin Cities 3-Day walkers today in the heat and through the Closing Ceremony!

in memory breast cancer star wars storm trooper

Kevin’s armband dedicates his walk to his wife

Kevin as a stormtrooper moves out onto the route after the Opening Ceremony on the Twin Cities 3-Day, to the delight of children and adults on the route breast cancer

Kevin as a stormtrooper moves out onto the route after the Opening Ceremony on the Twin Cities 3-Day, to the delight of children and adults on the route

Hands Together for Kathy Heins

Besides raising more than $60,000 in funds over 10 years of walking, Kathy Heins has led a team of fundraisers, Robb’s Ralliers, to raise more than $400,000 in funds for breast cancer research over the years they have participated!  Kathy has been been a walker in the Susan G. Komen Twin Cities 3-Day for 10 years, and she is this year’s recipient of the Milestone Award for her commitment to the Twin Cities’ efforts in breast cancer awareness and research. Oh, and it’s her birthday today on Day 2 of the Twin Cities 3-Day.

Kathy Heins stops at Grab and Go "A" on Day 2 of the Twin Cities 3-Day to hug supporters (who were also wishing her a happy birthday!)

Kathy Heins stops at Grab and Go “A” on Day 2 of the Twin Cities 3-Day to hug supporters (who were also wishing her a happy birthday!)

“I had heard about the 3-Day from friends of mine who were co-survivors, but had young children at home, so couldn’t travel to other cities,” said Kathy. “In 2003, it was announced that the first 3-Day® would be held in the Twin Cities – as a survivor, I wanted to do something bigger than me and my battle.  Raising the money, training for the walk and participating in the event felt like the perfect thing.” She was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time just after the second Twin Cities 3-Day in 2005, and she committed herself to walk until her feet couldn’t carry her anymore.

Kathy Heins, the Twin Cities 3-Day Milestone Award recipient of 2013, stops on the route on Day 2

Kathy Heins, the Twin Cities 3-Day Milestone Award recipient of 2013, stops on the route on Day 2

When asked about her amazing success in fundraising, she responded, “I am blessed with amazing supporters! Family, friends and even people I didn’t previously know, have made a commitment to supporting me year after year.  As I meet new people, I share my story in hopes that I can rally them for support as well.”

As a veteran walker, Kathy recommends walking at your own pace and taking sweep vans if needed.  “What you’ve accomplished to date–the fundraising and the training–is amazing! Make sure you can walk through the finish line on Day 3! Enjoy camp life and soak in the experience.  Take time in the remembrance tent.  It’s extremely sad, but it will inspire you to keep up the fight.” Kathy’s attitude and view of the 3-Day as “inspiring, awesome, and hopeful” has been a great force in the fight against breast cancer and a great support to other walkers.  Congratulations Kathy on receiving the Milestone Award for 2013 in the Twin Cities!