Right There With You: The 3-Day Coaches’ Favorite Moments from 2013, Part 2

In the last 3-Day blog post, some of our coaches shared their favorite moments from 2013. The inspiring interactions and conversations that the coaches have with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walkers and crew members are an immensely rewarding part of the job, and part of what makes it so easy for our participants to connect so closely with the coaches is that many of the coaches participate in the 3-Day themselves.

Let’s hear more from the coaches who walked and worked alongside you in 2013.

Seattle coach Aubrey Cushing was a first-time 3-Day crew member in 2013. As part of the Camp Services crew team in San Diego, she had many opportunities to meet and congratulate the walkers she had been in touch with by phone or email all year long. “I adored coming to San Diego and finally putting faces to names of participants I had spoken with over the course of the year. The hugs and high fives were some of the most special ones I’ve received and I cherish the love that was shared with me that weekend. Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. I have been gifted the opportunity to connect with the world’s most impactful people. Who could ask for anything more?”

Paula Hultman, another Seattle coach, walked in San Diego with her husband George. Together, the Hultmans have walked a combined 26 3-Day events (wow!), but the emotional impact of the 3-Day is as strong now as it has ever been for them: “I was moved to tears twice this year, at the outpouring of community support by the people of San Diego. On Day 1, as we climbed the first hill to the picturesque town of Del Mar Village, we were met by several blocks of well-wishers who lined the sidewalks in front of their businesses, offering their thanks, and showering us with words of gratitude and support. It was remarkable. On Day 2, when I was walking with tremendous knee pain, we came across yet another stretch of supporters along the San Diego River. Again, their cheers, signs and thanks brought tears to my eyes, and eased the pain I had to deal with. My husband and I are forever grateful to the community support we have found in our 11 years of walking in San Diego.”


The Hultmans pause for a picture in San Diego

Val Jones, one of our Dallas/Fort Worth coaches, was part of the 2013 3-Day event staff, working as the on-event crew coordinator for all 14 3-Days this year. “We had so much to do on the Twin Cities 3-Day with the changing of Day 3’s route, due to excessive heat.  What struck me and can occasionally make me tear up thinking about it is the kindness of the crew.  Upon receipt of the news regarding the scaled down Day 3, they immediately went into action doing what needed to be done and being so extremely flexible!  The Camp Hydration Captain, Tom B., stands out most, as he made it his mission to ensure that every walker, crew member, AND staff member was staying hydrated.  Tom didn’t have to go above and beyond, but he did, and for that, I will forever be grateful.”

tom b. and wife

Tom B. and his wife at the Opening Ceremony in Twin Cities

For coach and walker Kim Collings, one of the most moving things she saw was at the very beginning of the San Diego 3-Day.  “I saw a father and daughter walking next to each other just after the Opening Ceremony, with smiles and tears, knowing that his wife, her mother had just passed away on the Tuesday before the 3-Day.” Kim also shared another stirring sight that waited at the end of a particularly grueling hill climb. “Just after finishing the famous Juan Street hill, we walked through that really pretty neighborhood. We came up on a nice house with a little boy in a swing clapping and thanking us for making his mommy better. Then I saw a handwritten sign on cardboard and looked up on the porch to see the woman who had written it sobbing while thanking us for walking. I had to run back and up to her for the best hug ever! If I had any doubts as to why I walk, they all went away with that hug.”


A heartfelt display of thanks

Thank you coaches, for letting us experience the 3-Day through your eyes. Readers, what about you? Post comments about your experiences with the 3-Day coaches!

Building Connections: The 3-Day Coaches’ Favorite Moments from 2013, Part 1

They talk to you on the phone, reply to your emails, conduct informational meetings and workshops, and support the participants on each event. They are the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® coaches, and their job is to help people fundraise, train for and learn more about the Komen 3-Day. As a former 3-Day® coach myself for 4 years, I can attest to what a gift it was to work at a job that is a daily source of inspiration. The 3-Day family is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of the power of goodness at work in the world, and that goodness comes from our awesome walkers and crew members.

I went to my fellow coaches and asked about their favorite memories and moments from the 2013 3-Day season. From inspiring conversations, to overcoming challenges, to shared triumphs, the coaches have seen it all. Today and for the next few 3-Day blog posts, I’ll be sharing some of those moments with you.


Philadelphia coach Lisa Stephens was particularly touched by one family’s journey together. “I met Brad T. and two of his children at a Get Started Meeting. Brad had lost his wife, and the kids had lost their mom, just a year earlier and they were still struggling emotionally and mentally with the hole that it left in their family.  What I loved about my first encounter with them was the support and love they had for each other.  They promised to train together, fundraise together and to walk the 3-Day in honor of this amazing woman.  I saw them many times on event, hugged them every time and even met the third child, who joined the 3-Day as part of the Young Women Walking.  So often we hear of how helpless a family member feels when a loved one is fighting cancer, and this event offers people the ability to not feel so helpless…to take action and stand together in this fight.  Seeing them all weekend, I know I will see them back in 2014.”

Thayer family

Brad and his children walked in memory of the wife and mom they lost last year.


Another one of our Dallas/Fort Worth coaches, Lauren Lueders, had a conversation with a San Diego walker a few weeks before the event which moved her in a personal way. “It’s only fitting that one of my favorite moments of 2013 includes our very beloved Bridget Spence. I was talking to Patti A., a San Diego walker, and I congratulated her on her fundraising. She had raised $3,000, and she went on to tell me the story of her last donation to get her to $3,000. She was on a training walk and mentioned that she was only $29 shy of the $3,000 mark. When she arrived home there was a donation on her page that simply read ‘In Memory of Bridget Spence.’” Bridget, a former 3-Day coach and walker, passed away in April after an eight-year battle with breast cancer. She was 29 years old, and after she died, the 3-Day community took it upon themselves to initiate a trend of making $29 donations to fellow walkers, often anonymously, with the simple message, “In Memory of Bridget.” Lauren continues, “As I talked with Patti, she shared all of the wonderful things she had heard about Bridget, and the $29 grassroots fundraising efforts in memory of Bridget. It was a perfect reminder of the spirit of the 3-Day family.”


Earlier in the year, Gayla Cruikshank replied to an email that simply asked for some info about cheering stations, but that email began a poignant conversation between her and first-time Dallas/Fort Worth walker Thomas R. “I asked Thomas about his reason for walking and he told me that his mom died from breast cancer 35 years ago, when he was only 15 years old.  He has been looking for some way to honor her memory for decades. When his friend told him about the 3-Day, he just KNEW this was exactly what he’d been looking for.  He said he gets choked up talking about it and the experience he had, and it put a lump in my throat as well.  I knew exactly how he was feeling from the experience he had on the 3-Day.He said being a guy on the event was very intimidating, but at the end of day 1, he knew he was hooked. He’s already signed up for 2014 and is ready to help me at some Get Started Meetings and social gatherings so we can share what the 3-Day community has done for us.”

Thomas Riggs

Thomas and friends on Day 3

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2013 Photographer’s Picks

“What’s your favorite photograph?” People ask this from time to time, wanting some insight into what the photographer likes. My response usually resembles that of a father being asked which of his children are his favorite. It’s hard to pick just one. While the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Series is an extremely bright and pink event, some of my personal selects may not be the ones that participants would select themselves. I’ve enjoyed some of the quiet moments, usually when participants don’t realize they’ve been photographed. I’ve enjoyed the finish lines, where a thousand stories are passing by you, unknown to most spectators. I’ve enjoyed trying to capture some of that deep emotion in a glance or a smile. Unposed.

National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry used the term “unguarded moments” when he described some his portraits, and I believe that encapsulates some of the authenticity that the photojournalist is always looking for, a rawness in the moment. The Komen 3-Day does offer that, behind all of the elaborate pink costumes, the masks, the sunglasses. It offers many the opportunity to defeat their preconceived notions about their physical ability, and more importantly about their mental capability. I hope that some of these images do justice to those people. Enjoy.

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