Congratulations to Michigan’s Milestone Award Winner, Bert S.!

Congratulations to Bert S., the Susan G. Komen Michigan 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, who has raised approximately $175,000 over the 10 events he’s participated in (nine in Michigan, and one in Chicago.)

Bert’s inspiration to walk his first Komen 3-Day came after a very dear friend of his was diagnosed with breast cancer. “Her husband and I felt helpless and just felt we needed to do something. We formed our “Mavens” team and that first year was literally life changing for both of us, and we’ve been walking every year, ever since. I am happy to report that my friend has beaten breast cancer – she’s a survivor!” said Bert. (Bert, 81, laughs as he describes the meaning behind his team name — “The wise guys!”, and Bert’s wife, whom he calls “his maven”, defines as a knowledgeable person.)

Milestone Award Winner Bert on his way to 60 miles on Day 2 of the Susan G. Komen Michigan 3-Day

Milestone Award Winner Bert on his way to 60 miles on Day 2 of the Susan G. Komen Michigan 3-Day

Bert says that fundraising letters have been the key to his success. Bert’s assistant of 34 years, Pam, helps Bert write his fundraising letter. “It wouldn’t happen without Pam,” he said. Bert also notes how details are important when it comes to sending out fundraising letters, as they can help guarantee your success and help your donors realize what they will accomplish by supporting you. “We probably sent out 145 letters this year and we got about 142 responses. You have to tell people how far we’ve come in conquering the disease. And, what a wonderful percentage of recovery we have today.”

As a veteran 3-Day walker, Bert said that his best advice to anyone walking the 3-Day is to train, train, train. “I cannot put enough emphasis on training — start with short distances and work your way up.  Stay focused on “finishing” the event,” he said. Bert also adds that in his personal experience, after about fourteen miles, completing the walk is “all mental”.

Like many 3-Day walkers, Bert is aware of the risk of breast cancer and how it can change a family. Bert has been married for 60 years, to his wife Marion, and he has four daughters, three granddaughters, and a grandson. “I have a lot of good friends who have been touched one way or another by this disease. It’s their mother, their grandmother, their wife…This disease can hit anyone at any time and I literally walk today so that someday, there will be no reason to walk.  I have met some amazing people over the years and they continue to inspire me with every step of every walk.” You inspire us too, Bert.

 

The Michigan 3-Day Celebrates Its Top Fundraisers

The 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season opened yesterday on a stunning morning in Michigan, as walkers and crew gathered with excitement for the first event of the year. Participants were met with some new event elements, and everyone embarked on Day 1 of walking with enthusiasm and anticipation. On return to the Komen 3-Day Camp, there were even more surprises in store (and some familiar favorites, like the Bank of America massage chairs). The 3-Day® camp show was enjoyed by all, and our friends from Bank of America took a few special moments to recognize the top fundraisers for the Michigan 3-Day.

Top Fundraising Team – BC Babes – $103,190 raisedsusan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk michigan day 1 top fundraising team

The 54 members of team BC Babes (captained by Beth Northman) celebrates its 10th year as team, during which it has raised an amazing $854,534.

Top Crew Fundraiser – Mark Nadeau – $8,815 raised

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk michigan day 1 top crew fundraiserThis is Mark’s 10th event, and he has raised more than $28,000 in his 10 years as a 3-Day participant. He is part of the Gear & Tent crew team, and crews with his wife Amy (Camp Services).

Top Individual Fundraiser – Kathy Giller – $34,560 raisedsusan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk michigan day 1 top individual  fundraiser

Kathy has participated in 12 3-Day events over the last 8 years, and has raised a lifetime total of $237,934. Kathy walks for her husband Lee who is a male breast cancer survivor, and she is the captain of team Breast Man Walking.

Our gratitude goes to all of these extraordinary participants, and all Michigan 3-Day walkers and crew members for their dedication to a world without breast cancer. To learn more about the top individual, crew and team fundraisers in Michigan, as well as our eight series walkers, check out the framed table-top displays in the dining tent in camp.

Two Sisters, Crew Sisters

When you start talking to Susan G. Komen Michigan 3-Day crew members Janine and Laurie, it doesn’t take long before you can tell without a doubt that they’re sisters. It’s not just the similarity in features and body language; the two women finish each other’s sentences and banter back and forth with playful ribbing that screams “siblings.”

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk michigan day 1 crew sisters

Janine and Laurie, sisters and lunch crewmates

Originally from Boston, Janine and Laurie are two of ten children in their family. Janine now lives in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and Laurie calls the San Francisco Bay Area home. When I asked them how often they get to see each other, they replied, “At least once a year on the 3-Day®! That’s part of why we keep doing it, otherwise we wouldn’t get to see each other as much.”

Laurie, though the younger of the two sisters (Janine was good-humoredly offended at how quick Laurie was to point out who was older), is the more veteran 3-Day participant, with the 2014 Michigan 3-Day being her twenty-fourth event; she has walked eighteen times and crewed six times, including this Michigan event, and will walk again in San Diego this November. But Janine’s 3-Day experience is impressive too; she has walked seven times and this event marks her second year on the crew. Even hearing them try and itemize their 3-Day resumes (“No, you’ve walked eighteen times, not seventeen.” “Eighteen? Are you sure?” “How can I know this and you don’t know this?!”), their sisterly rivalry—though energetic and affectionate—is unmistakable. They shared stories about how last year, working a pit stop in Boston, their captain kept mixing up their names until the two ladies decided to write them in large black letters across their crew shirts, and another story about how one morning on the Arizona 3-Day, when Laurie was worried that they’d overslept, she let the air out of Janine’s air mattress right under her to get her sister moving. You can just picture them laughing through the whole thing.

Looking back at her long history with the 3-Day, Laurie recalls that she planned to take a break from walking after her third event. But then Janine was diagnosed with breast cancer. Laurie recalls what it felt like when her big sister shared the awful news: “I remember Janine said, ‘This is not supposed to happen.’ She took care of herself, she walked for other people with breast cancer [in the Race for the Cure] every year. It was like getting hit by a truck.”

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk michigan day 1 crew sisters

Laurie and Janine

Laurie immediately knew she had to walk again. So she signed up again, trained and raised money. Janine’s birthday was on Day 1 of Laurie’s walk in San Diego that year, and she called her sister to tell her, “This one’s for you.” Janine’s response? “Next year I’ll be there with you.” The following fall, Laurie and two of their other sisters joined Janine on her first 3-Day, where she proudly walked as a survivor.

Fast forward to 2014, when Janine and Laurie arrived from opposite coasts to meet and crew together again in Michigan. I asked them what the 3-Day meant to them, and Janine’s response was perfection: “This is one of the most gratifying events anyone can do. Being able to share this with my sister is incredible. She really is my co-survivor. Even though she wasn’t physically with me through all of my treatment, she was always there for me. We celebrate every year. Two nights ago [when we arrived in Michigan] was 11 years to the day of being cancer free. So I celebrated with my sister. And then it’s a big party with everyone else joining! It’s tremendous. I have 2 daughters, I’m one of 6 sisters, and we have a whole mess of nieces and grand-nieces. Enough is enough. I get angry when someone else is diagnosed. If I ever think, ‘I don’t want to keep doing the 3-Day, I’ll take that time and money and go on vacation instead,’ I say no, not till this is done.”

Michigan 3-Day participants can look for Janine and Laurie at the lunch stop this weekend. Where you find one of the sisters, the other is sure to be nearby.