As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to an end this week, we wanted to share this great new graphic, which spotlights the tremendous impact that Komen is having. The chart also draws focus to Komen’s priorities and the challenges that we still face in the fight against breast cancer. Please share it with your friends and family, donors and supporters. Together, we are making a difference and changing lives.
Congratulations, Atlanta – you did it! You rocked the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® this past weekend.
We kicked things off in Stone Mountain Park early Friday morning. Although it was chilly, we knew the day would be beautiful and we enjoyed an inspiring Opening Ceremony. We heard some really touching stories from our fellow participants and were uplifted with a special tribute sung by two incredible local artists. Dr. Sheri and our eight members of the survivors’ circle led us out onto the route, where we enjoyed views of the beautiful park and the lovely, clean scent of pine. It really felt like autumn was upon us!
Soon after we refueled at Pit Stop 1, we came into an energetic cheering station set up along Main Street of Stone Mountain Village. Friends and family came out in droves to cheer us on and give us a little pep in our step. We rocked and rolled to some great 80’s beats at Pit Stop 2 and snacked on string cheese and grahamwiches. At Lunch, we took some time to change socks, attend to any hot spots that were popping up on our feet, and were entertained by a DJ playing some great music. As we came into the home stretch of Day 1, we were greeted with picturesque views of the Atlanta city skyline, and at mile 21.4, we reached our indoor(!) campsite for the weekend at the Georgia World Congress Center.
We snapped photos of the 20-mile banner, made up some trail mix snacks in the 3-Day Lounge, rested our weary feet in the massage chairs at the Bank of America tent and picked up Instagram #laceup365 photos at the New Balance tent. And we enjoyed the delicious and decadent mac & cheese for dinner – on National Pasta Day, no less! During the Friday night camp show, we recognized some our top performers of 2014, including the Atlanta top fundraisers and our Milestone Award Winner, Mary Anne W.
Day 2 started out as bright and crisp as the day before, and we quickly made our way to Pit Stop 1 in Midtown West: The Wild Wild Breasts of Atlanta! We tackled a huge hill before coming into Pit Stop 2, and then kept walking uphill the rest of the day (or at least it felt like it!). The mansions of Atlanta offered a gorgeous backdrop to the route and we wound through some very beautiful neighborhoods. The police were back out again to keep us safe and like always, they were so nice! At Pit Stop 4, the Ford Warriors in Pink paid us a visit and offered pink temporary tattoos, great photo ops, and free scarves.
Back at the GWCC, we enjoyed an evening with friends and family, sharing our stories from the route and showing them our home-away-from-home for the weekend. During the Saturday night camp show, we heard some really inspiring stories, including one from a young survivor, Julie B. And in typical 3-Day style, we danced the night away at the 3-Day Dance Party. Isn’t it amazing how good it feels to dance, even after 41.7 miles?!
As we packed up our gear and folded up our tents on the morning of Day 3, we knew it was going to be a beautiful day; we had the anticipation of the Closing Ceremony to help carry us through the final 15.3 miles. Piedmont Park was a gorgeous setting for Grab & Go A and the picture-perfect weather didn’t hurt, either. We didn’t have to wait long to come upon a cheering station this morning; spectators were set up at John Howell Park and were handing out delicious goodies and clapping like crazy. As we made our way into the lunch stop at Paideia School, DJ Ross N. was rocking the tunes for the third day in a row, to give us something to jam to. The crew there made sure we knew we were in the final stretch of the weekend – just 5.3 more miles to go!
Those final miles went by quickly and we walked into Turner Field, cheered on by our loved ones and fellow walkers and crew members. There was quite a reception for the last walkers on Day 3 – it seemed like the smiling faces, cheers and high-fives stretched for miles! As we lined up to walk into the Closing Ceremony and be reunited with our families and friends again, we felt the butterflies of anticipation. Walking that final “victory lap” over to the stage is always emotional and we felt the weight of all 60 miles, the memories of those we’ve lost, and the tributes and stories of those we honor and celebrate.
Meet Team Gilbert Girls. They are an upbeat, beautiful, welcoming group of women who walk in the Susan G. Komen Atlanta 3-Day year after year. They all walk for some very special reasons, but their namesake is Margaret Gilbert, mother to Sara and sister to Tina. Margaret lost her battle to breast cancer in 2009 at the young age of 41.
Tina S., the team’s captain, has been a walker in the 3-Day for 7 years. Her teammates are no slouches either when it comes to years of participation! Cheryl S. is a 12-year veteran, and Annie B. has walked six times. What’s even more remarkable? Five of their eight team members are under the age of 20! Sara G. (17) has walked the last two years in her mother’s memory. Beth K. (17), Claire S. (17) and Jessica Z. (19) are all new to the 3-Day this year, and their eighth teammate, Caitlyn S. (18), will join them tomorrow as part of the Young Women Walking program.
Between the combination of long-time and young walkers, you might think fundraising would be challenging for the group. But Sara, Beth and Claire – the high school gals – were quick to point out that as soon as they tell people what they are doing, the support was quick to follow. It’s no surprise that these young walkers inspire others with their desire to walk 60 miles in memory of Sara’s mother.
Tina, Cheryl and Annie, the 3-Day veterans, all say that they weren’t prepared for how much fun the walk is, and that once you do it for the first time, you’ll do it again and again. As Cheryl puts it, “The cheering makes it a lot easier. There are so many people who tell you, ‘Way to go! Way to go for walking! Way to go for stretching! Way to go… for going to the bathroom!’ It’s a feel-good experience.”
To unite them as a team, they print t-shirts each year with a different word cloud. This year’s shirts are yellow (which stand out beautifully in the sea of pink!) and bear the names of all the loved ones for whom they walk, along with some inspiring 3-Day themed words. Those meaningful names and words are in the shape of the number “60,” a very fitting number indeed.
Tina quickly explained that Jessica wasn’t wearing her team tee today – because they just adopted her to Gilbert Girls this morning. But, rest assured, she’ll be wearing her yellow shirt tomorrow.
We’re so inspired by the warm, loving family of 3-Dayers all around us; helping to reinforce what seasoned 3-Day participants always say, “On the 3-Day, there are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet.”