When a “Once in a Lifetime” Experience Turns Into a Yearly Tradition

Meet one of our amazing 3-Day multi-year participants, Sandra Chiesa. Sandra was the recipient of the 3-Day Milestone Award at the San Francisco Bay Area 3-Day in June. She will also be walking in the San Diego 3-Day in November. Her lifetime 3-Day achievements include walking in 12 events since 2003, and a combined 3-Day fundraising total of over $58,000. We caught up with Sandra and asked her to share her story. 

How was your first 3-Day of 2013?
“We were a small event, but we had a lot of heart! I had a great time and tried to savor every moment. I had such bittersweet emotions at Closing, knowing it was the last 3-Day in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

What inspired you to take your first 3-Day journey?
“I had a few reasons. My grandmother was a breast cancer survivor. Secondly, a co-worker had passed away. Her death – and being so close to my age – emphasized how fragile and short life can be. I decided I wanted to do something bold. Something out of my comfort zone to celebrate life. When I heard the ads for the 3-Day and I thought, “Now there’s something out of my comfort zone!” I was not an active person then, so the thought of walking 60 miles coupled with the idea of fundraising were very daunting. But I also saw it as a win-win because I knew the money I was raising would make a difference! I signed up, not knowing anyone, but by the end of my first 3-Day I had many new friends. It was a very empowering experience on so many levels, and I think that is partly why I keep coming back! I want to help make a difference and hope one day we will live in a world where no one ever dies from breast cancer.”

What has brings you back to the 3-Day year after year?
“One reason is the 3-Day community. I have made so many friends, both near and far, with some of the most passionate and dedicated individuals I have ever known. But I also come back because the work isn’t done as long as women and men continue to succumb to this dreaded disease.”

Do you have a favorite 3-Day memory? “

“It is very hard to pick one favorite memory! Each event is special in its own way. I loved my first event in 2003 when our second night camp site rained out, and we had a slumber party back at the Opening site. I also remember how honored I was to carry the “Victories” flag during Opening Ceremonies in 2010. Seeing the incredible community support in Seattle and San Diego in 2006 and 2007 was so emotional, especially when I shook the hand of a woman who was obviously undergoing treatment. There are hundreds of special moments that I treasure.”

Sandra Chiesa is all smiles at the 2013 San Francisco Bay Area 3-Day

Sandra Chiesa is all smiles at the 2013 San Francisco Bay Area 3-Day

What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success?
“I don’t consider it a secret. First, I have been blessed with very loyal supporters. Second, I keep my friends/family/supporters updated with my journey each year through my own website and newsletter (I try to do one each month during the season). If you send one letter and never follow up with anyone, they will likely forget and secondly, they may think it didn’t mean that much to you. I also collect recycling for cash and have a donation box set up at my parents’ business each year. In the past I’ve held a garage sale, done flamingo flocking, and raffled a handmade quilt. Last year I used the Olympics as a fundraising idea, The 3-Day Donation Olympics! I had different donation levels that corresponded to either a bronze, silver or gold medal. I bought some inexpensive medals to mail the donors. Sometimes it’s motivational when you give people an extra incentive, like the medals. It doesn’t have to be an expensive item, either.”

What would you tell someone who is considering doing the 3-Day?

“I would tell anyone considering signing up for the 3-Day to just do it! You have nothing to lose, and will enjoy the experience of a lifetime. It will empower you as you conquer the fundraising and training. And you will make new friends and become a part of the most dedicated and amazing group of people you will ever know.”

What would you tell a first time walker that they “must-do” this weekend?
“Savor every moment because it goes by so quickly! Take pictures. Talk to fellow walkers to hear their stories. Go to the Remembrance Tent. Walk alone for a bit and reflect on why you are walking. Enjoy camp!”

Thanks Sandra. Your 3-Day experience and spirit inspires us all!


We would like to hear from other multi-year participants….what keeps you coming back to the 3-Day? Let us know in the comments below.