Congratulations to the 2021 3-Day Nation Milestone Award Winner, Laura K.!

Please join us in congratulating our 2021 3-Day Nation Milestone Award Winner, Laura K! The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Milestone Award is given at each event to a participant who has an outstanding history of participation in the Komen 3-Day. Laura has been walking in the 3-Day since 2008 and has walked every year since, completing 16 3-Day walks.

Laura’s friend Kate told us about how genuinely giving she is saying, “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Milestone Award than Laura for her contributions and commitment to the 3-Day. Laura owns her own business, is devoted to her family, especially her new granddaughter, and is active in her church. Somehow, with all that she does for her community and friends she finds time to fundraise and train for the 3-Day. Laura is caring, compassionate, funny, and generous. She inspires me and all who know her to be better people. I am so proud to have known Laura for the last 13 years and to have her as a member of the Connecticut Pink Warriors.”

Fellow 3-Day walker, Cynthia, also had very kind words to say about her friend stating, “Laura is one of the most dedicated to the cause people I know. She goes above and beyond with fundraising every year. We met in 2010 doing the Boston 3-Day and have been friends ever since, walking together during the 3-Days, training together, and visiting when we can! And boy, when she walks, she walks! She has done many 60-mile 3-Days over the years! I love training with her, along with our friendship!”

Laura’s friend, Sharyn says, “I met Laura a long time ago through my involvement with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. We have walked many 3-Day events together and Laura’s commitment to find the cures is huge. She has walked for the past 13 years totaling 16 walks and has raised over $100,000 and is still going strong. Dedication, commitment, drive, ambition, and making a difference are all words that describe Laura. I’m thrilled the Milestone Award was given to her this year.”

What was your inspiration to do your first 3-Day?

I believe that everyone needs to have something in their life that they are passionate about and that challenges themselves to become a better person. I feel that we need to give back in whatever we do.

When my two sons were younger, my husband and I were involved with coaching them on various recreational sports teams. Once they reached high school and the teams became more competitive, they needed “real” coaches. Since I was not needed as a coach anymore, I needed something new to redirect my energy to. I saw an ad on TV about the 3-Day, so I went to one of the local meetings where one of the coaches shared her story about her diagnosis with breast cancer while she was in college. It inspired me, and I then found what I was meant to be doing. The friends I met over the years through the Pink Bubble have become an important part of my life. I ended up meeting Kate  at this meeting, and we became fast friends. We challenged each other as we trained together.

At first this adventure was to challenge myself to walk 60 miles in three days. Then, I began to think about how many peoples’ lives were impacted by raising money for breast cancer research and awareness. That became a very rewarding adventure.

What has brought you back to the 3-Day year after year?

In a world where we are so busy, the 3-Day Pink Bubble has allowed me to really think about what is important in life. The 3-Day is always a weekend spent with wonderful friends where you become emotional, physically, and mentally exhausted as you are all fighting for a common cause. I know that may sound strange, but it is a humbling experience and recharges the soul. We all know of someone who has been impacted by breast cancer and can see the toll that it has on them and their family. I always remember the sign from past 3-Day events that says, “Walking 60 miles is easier than breast cancer treatments.”

What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success?

I am very fortunate to have a career in financial planning where I am surrounded by people who are charitable, and they all know of someone who has had breast cancer. They too want to help make a difference in this world, so their donations always add up. Part of my job is to help them achieve their financial goals, and it is sad to see their dreams impacted by a breast cancer diagnosis. Even though they are not walking with me physically, their stories and memories of their loved ones are with me each step of the way.

What is your best advice to anyone walking the 3-Day?

Have fun, meet as many people as you can, share your stories, train for the walk, and believe that you can make a difference.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I love to garden and make the world a prettier place.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day?

I believe the strides Komen has been making to raise breast cancer awareness and the importance of early detection is really making a difference in the lives of those impacted. I am still hopeful that the cures are found for this disease during my lifetime. I have a 6-month-old granddaughter, and I hope she never has to experience hearing that someone she loves is diagnosed with breast cancer. The 3-Day is making a difference and building a community that I am so glad that I can be a part of!

Join us in congratulating Laura! THANK YOU for your contributions to the Komen 3-Day over the last 13 years!

Let 3-Day walker Heidi S. put a little JOY in your heart this December

For the final entry in our “Word of the Year” series, we give the blog over to Heidi S., who has found JOY amidst profoundly difficult circumstances.

Hi. My name is Clear’ly Nuts, and I’m a 3-Day Addict. My journey with the 3-Day started in 2001 when my best friend Jennifer Clear was diagnosed with breast cancer about two weeks after her daughter was born. After a mastectomy, radiation, and too many brutal rounds of chemotherapy, she was pronounced cancer-free in 2002. Almost exactly five years after that pronouncement, she contracted metastatic breast cancer in her liver and passed away at 39.

I. Was. Angry. I wanted to do something. I NEEDED to do something, and it had to be something BIG. So in 2009, I signed up to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. In order for me to sign up, I had to enlist the help of my family. I was a single mom, you see, of an orange-haired phenom named Noah. He, as my niece puts it, was “especially needed,” and he could not stay at home by himself (no matter how much he thought he could). With their help, I raised the funds and embarked on a 3-Day journey in Chicago, what I thought at the time was a one-and-done experience.

IT WAS HARD. IT WAS HOT, I was UNDERTRAINED, my feet were ACHING, and I VOWED TO THE DEPTH OF MY VERY SOUL that I would never, ever, EVER do it AGAIN. And then, in the very last mile of these 60 arduous miles[MS1] , it clicked. I walked—well, limped—whimpering, into the participant finish area, where hundreds of walkers, crew, staff, families and friends were screaming and cheering and celebrating. This tremendous outpouring of JOY, love, and celebration reached out and grabbed me by the heart (and the eyeballs, I was ugly crying, not going to lie) and dragged me over that finish line, screaming “YES! YOU DID IT! Now, sign up to do it again.”

So, I did. But this time? I got smart. I wised up. I found the leader of the ONE training walk I had gone on (yes, one, because who would need to train?) and begged her to let me join her team, the Coconutter Strutters. Well, not just me—us. Remember the orange-haired phenom? We came as a boxed set. He was my sidekick in all things, my wingman, my Little Biscuit. Anyway, she, possibly to her dismay, welcomed the two of us. And we became Coconuts.

So, I did it again. And again, and again and again. Noah and I, we trained, we raised funds, we walked in the Race for the Cure, and he became the Coconuts’ biggest fan. We became a part of the Coconutter Strutter family, and we began to make plans. When he turned 18, he would honor his “Aunt” Jenny’s memory by walking the Michigan 3-Day with his beloved Coconuts.

By that time, epilepsy had come. The constant seizures stole his walk, his voice, and his independence. But it did NOT steal his joy and laughter, love and light, and it did NOT steal his love for his Coconuts and for doing big things. I was scared. He used a wheelchair by then, and not independently. How was I going to do it? How was I going to push this Rollin’ Coconut all 60 miles? I was worried, but I had forgotten about one thing. The Coconuts. It was a forgone conclusion that, whatever Rollin’ wanted, Rollin’ got, and if he wanted to take the 60-mile journey, then by God, he would do so. So we signed up. And we fundraised, we plotted, we planned, we got excited, we became hopeful, and we started to get ready.

But Episucky had other plans for our Orange-Haired Teen, and in February 2016, the year he would have gone 60 miles with us, he left this Earth for bigger and better things. When he was sick and so very tired, I read the book “Waterbugs and Dragonflies,” written by an angel named Doris Stickney. This book explained to him what was happening, why he was getting so very tired, giving him permission to let go and become the Dragonfly, heading off to bigger and better things than what was here for him on Earth. He was comforted, and he stopped being scared and tired, and with the same sweetness, joy and laughter, love and light that he lived with, he winged off into the bright world of sun and air.

Being Rollin’ Coconut’s mom taught me so many things, but one of the biggest lessons is this: every day, no matter how hard it is, you get brave, you get up, and you get on with it. And you do it with joy and laughter, love and light. So, that’s what we, who were left here on Earth, have chosen to do. We took him in our hearts on our walk that year in Michigan, handing out the story and dragonflies to everyone we could, merging his joy with theirs.

Every year since then, we see those dragonflies on walkers’ packs and lanyards, and it warms our hearts. We have Dragonfly Moments on every walk—moments when we are tired, we *might* be a little cranky and sick of walking—and then we see a dragonfly. Hovering around us, bouncing off of our heads, dive bombing our faces, or resting on our hands, as if to say, “Get it together ladies! You got this! Find your joy! Get brave, get up and get on with it!” And we laugh, we find our joy, and we do exactly that.

Noah would have been 21 in 2018. In his honor, and in Jenny’s memory, I decided to step WAY out of my comfort zone and do a big thing. I decided to walk in all seven 3-Day cities that year. And my team, my amazing, glorious family of Coconuts? They plotted, planned, and they made it so.

On that seven-city journey, I learned that, while cancer sucks, there are thousands of people out there determined to make a difference in the fight. They have dedicated their lives, their time, talent and treasure to beating this unacceptable disease. They walk tirelessly, they fundraise relentlessly, and they have formed a joyful community—strangers who are family.

So, if you’ve read all that, you might have guessed that my word for 2021 is Joy. A tiny little word that packs a huge punch. Joy is a gift that should be given and received freely, with no reservation, and it binds us all together. Joy is contagious; it costs nothing, and once it is sparked within your heart, it will warm you to your very fingertips and toes.

My 3-Day community has brought sparks of joy to me in my darkest days, it has fanned its flames, and it has celebrated with me when it has raged like an inferno. My advice to all who are reading this in 2021: find your joy. It might be a spark in your darkest days, or an inferno in your brightest. Find it, share it, and it will be returned to you.

What brings you JOY in your dark days? How has the 3-Day community supported you when you needed it?Thank you for joining us for our “Word of the Year” series.

Lindsey B.’s Amazing and Creative Fundraising Efforts

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day is a special experience that impacts us all in different ways, but it is definitely one that sticks with you. Participant Lindsey B. has personally raised more than $112,000 for Susan G. Komen, and hopes to enlighten her children about how special and important the 3-Day is, just as it is for her. 

How did you get involved in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day? 

I first heard about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in 2004. I literally heard a commercial on the radio. My Aunt Joan had recently been diagnosed for a second time with breast cancer. I heard the commercial and decided that I was going to sign up as a solo walker for the Kansas City event. I found out that some of my mom’s friends had signed up so I ended up joining their team. My Aunt Joan came to the Closing Ceremony that year and it was so emotional. It means the world to me that I get to walk in celebration and honor of my Aunt Joan. After my first walk in 2005, my mom decided to walk with me and has continued to walk with our team ever since. I am beyond grateful that I get to walk with my mom rather than having to walk in memory or honor of her. I signed up thinking I would do this walk once, but man, I was wrong. Those three days changed my life and I knew that I would continue to participate in this event until the cures for breast cancer are found. 

In 2006 my sweet grandma Caryl was diagnosed with breast cancer and she passed away March 29, 2007, just three months before my wedding. I did not walk in 2007 because I got married, she passed away, and the 3-Day did not have an event in Kansas City that year. I knew that I would be back in 2008. I have walked every year since 2008 (twice in 2009, but of course, not last year due to Covid). I have even walked while nursing/pumping three times and walked pregnant twice (one time I walked while 6 months pregnant and I walked all 60 miles that year)! 

After joining the 3-Day family, I got very involved with our local Kansas City Komen affiliate. I chaired the Pink Promise Brunch twice, chaired the silent auction for the brunch twice, became a Komen Ambassador, participated in community events for Komen, volunteered with Race for the Cure, etc. Back when the 3-Day used to do over-the-phone clinics (Event 101 & Training), I volunteered as a veteran walker to give the clinic talks, as well as answer walkers’ questions. I love every aspect of the 3-Day and am so thankful that I heard that radio commercial that prompted me to sign up as a walker. When I see a person wearing a 3-Day shirt or hat, I always talk to them! The 3-Day family is absolutely amazing, and I LOVE talking to people who have participated in this event. 

How do you come up with such unique ways to fundraise? 

When I first started fundraising, it was mostly emails (this was before Facebook was used as a fundraising tool). Initially I was somewhat hesitant to ask for donations, but overtime, this went away. I find that if I talk about the 3-Day, people are inclined to say that they want to support me and donate without me even having to ask for donations. I also always train in my 3-Day gear. I’ve been out walking and stopped to talk to a neighbor and brought up the 3-Day. Turned out she was a survivor and donated $500 that year (and many years after).  

One year I held a garage sale and all of the proceeds went to the 3-Day. Once my neighbors realized that all of the proceeds went to breast cancer, they brought over quite a bit of stuff to sell and donated all of the proceeds to my fundraising efforts for the 3-Day. 

After many years of asking our family and friends to donate, my mom and I decided to have a fundraiser at my parents’ house. We wanted to do something that showed our family and friends how much we appreciated their continued support of our fundraising efforts. We named it “Dinner, Drinks and Donations.” People knew exactly what to expect. We decorated her house in as much pink Komen flair as we could come up with; pink Christmas lights, pink balloon garlands, pink flowers, etc. Every year for this fundraiser, we make pink ribbon sugar cookies, pink angel food cake, and have pink plates, pink napkins, pink table cloths, pink cotton candy, etc. We also serve a full dinner buffet (this was pre-Covid of course). Sometimes we do a pink signature cocktail.  

Three years ago, my brother-in-law’s mother, Mary, passed away from lung cancer (never smoked a day in her life). She had breast cancer 30 years ago and she was always such an amazing supporter of my 3-Day fundraising efforts. Just before she passed away, I was able to say goodbye to her. I promised her that I would not give up until we find the cures. This promise weighs heavy on my heart. I shared that story at our fundraiser three years ago and spoke about how Susan G. Komen started as a promise between two sisters. We have a flag at our fundraiser so guests can add names of people in their lives who currently have or had breast cancer. We have used the same flag for so many years that it is completely full of names, so we added another flag. This fundraising event is a TON of work for us (we spend about two weeks getting ready for it) and it is fairly expensive to put on (we had 65 people attend this year), but we love to do it because it is our way of thanking our family and friends who donate. A suggestion for other walkers who do not want a fundraising event of this magnitude is to do a “Donations and Desserts” fundraiser (could even be a drive-by event, due to Covid).  

This year we decided to do our event but knew we would have to get extra creative due to Covid. We held our “Dinner, Drinks and Donations” outside. We set up tables and patio furniture on the driveway. We asked all guests to bring their own tailgate chair. We made balloon garlands, balloon decorations, wrapped the tree in front of our house in pink Christmas lights, hung pink tulle fabric on the outdoor railing, had a firepit, and had more pink Christmas lights on a tailgating tent. We did not want a buffet of food due to Covid so we had a taco truck come. The event was AMAZING! We raised $5,560 that night!  

This year I made a “Ta-Ta Tiki Bar” and my kids sold pink lemonade at our fundraiser. It turned out super cute and was super inexpensive to make. I put battery-operated lights on it and placed in the center of our driveway where guests could not miss it. My kids were so excited because they raised $208 at this event. 

Here is the invitation we sent: 

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day this year is a go, 
And the Ta-Ta’s from KC will be there, you know! 

Covid sucks, we all know this is true, 
But you are invited to something new! 

To keep us all safe and still raise some cash, 
Our Drinks, Dinner and Donations is now an outdoor bash! 

We hope you will join us, wearing your pink, 
Taco Republic’s taco truck will provide food and drink. 

Please bring your dollars and a tailgating chair, 
This cause means a lot, as you are all aware! 

I included both of our personal fundraising webpage links on the invitation so people could donate ahead of time if they wanted to. 

Since the Ta-Ta Tiki Bar lemonade stand was such a great success at our “Dinner, Drinks and Donations” event, my kids and I decided that they should have a pink lemonade stand and invite their classmates from school. I used the same tiki bar, bought pink cups, made another pink balloon garland and each of my three kids made their own lemonade stand sign. My kids raised $550 at this event! I was blown away. We did not put a price on the pink lemonade and left it up to what people wanted to donate. Some people donated a couple of dollars, but other people donated up to $50.  

As I mentioned earlier, I talk to anyone who will listen about the 3-Day. To be honest, I had not attempted to ask my kids’ friends’ parents for donations. While I can usually ask anyone for a donation, I was somewhat uneasy approaching them for donations. This lemonade stand really opened up dialog with them about the 3-Day, why I walk and how they can donate. Last weekend a mom from my kids’ school approached me and said that she and another mom were talking and decided to hold a fundraiser for me. I was blown away by her generosity and willingness to help me raise money for the 3-Day.  

Why do you continue fundraising after you’ve met the $2,300 minimum? 

Since I started with the 3-Day in 2005, I’ve always told people that I, alone, cannot find a cure(s) for breast cancer. BUT, if everyone I know would donate $10 (I always say that is like going to Chipotle one time), that would add up so fast! Since 2005, I have personally raised $112,057 and my team has raised $515,494. We are a small but mighty team. We are not big, but we bust our booties to make sure we raise a lot each year. This year at our “Dinner, Drinks and Donations” event, it was so exciting to share with our family and friends that because of them, we have raised over half a million dollars. What if that half a million dollars funds the grant that does find the cures for breast cancer!  

Once I hit a fundraising goal, I always set a higher goal. Even if I just raise it a little bit, I still raise it. I also have a personal goal that every year I try to raise more than I raised the year before. Another reason why I continue to fundraise after reaching the minimum is because of all the women (and men) who continue to be diagnosed. When I meet a survivor and we talk about the 3-Day, I always tell them that I walk for them. It rips my heart out when I hear of women my age with young kids who are diagnosed. I will continue walking the 3-Day for those women and the survivors I meet on event. I always ask other walkers why they are walking and when they tell me they are a survivor, I am in awe of them, they truly are amazing. 

We’ve seen and heard of your kids getting involved in the fundraising. What do you hope they’ll learn and gain from this experience? 

Being a mom to three kids ages 8, 6 and 3, I choose to fundraise because I don’t want them to ever hear the words “you have breast cancer.” I don’t want my life to be cut short by a breast cancer diagnosis. Especially having two daughters, they are such a motivation for me.  

The most important thing I want my kids to learn is how amazing it is to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I want them to learn that raising money for a good cause really does make a difference. I want them to learn that life can be tough (walking 60 miles in three days is challenging), but we are all strong and we can all do hard things if we set our minds to it. I want them to learn the importance of working together to accomplish a huge goal — finding the cures for breast cancer. I’ve already talked with them about the 3-Day Youth Corps and that I hope when they are old enough, they want to be a part of it. The 3-Day is more than just a 60-mile walk for breast cancer; it is a part of who I am. This event means the world to me and I will participate until the cures are found! 

Every dollar raised for Susan G. Komen makes a difference. Do you have any unique or tried-and-true ways of fundraising? Let us know in the comments below.