After John Shinar lost Martha, his wife of 30 years, to breast cancer, he got involved with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in a big way. He decided that walking in one Komen 3-Day event in the Twin Cities, where he lives, wasn’t enough for him, so John made the extraordinary commitment to raise funds and walk in all fourteen 3-Day® events in 2013. He traveled coast to coast, logging 840 miles in memory of Martha.
John’s undertaking—essentially becoming a full-time 3-Day walker for the summer—was exceptional, but every year, hundreds of other 3-Day walkers pack up their sneakers and sleeping bags and travel to an out-of-town 3-Day destination as well. What a wonderful world it would be if we could bring a 3-Day walk in every city in America. Alas, that just isn’t possible, so for many walkers, a “destination 3-Day” is the only option.
I live in the Los Angeles area, a location that doesn’t currently have a 3-Day event, so I’ve pretty much always had to travel to walk. At first, my teammates and I stayed as local as we could—we traveled a couple hours south to San Diego, then a couple more hours north to San Francisco, and one year, we even ventured all the way up to Seattle. Then in 2010, we decided to make the destination part of the whole experience, and registered for Washington, DC. In the years following, we’ve made the choice to travel to walk in Philadelphia, Boston and the Twin Cities. This year, we’re Atlanta-bound.
Traveling to the 3-Day is not easy. I have to budget additional time (an extra day before and after the walk for flying, and sometimes more days, if I decide to do some extra visiting) and money (plane tickets, hotels, cabs). Packing a duffle bag with everything I need for the event, plus extra travel days, is an exercise in creativity and patience. Then there are the additional logistics that go with leaving my family for several days and making all the arrangements for the kids’ carpools, after school activities, meals, etc. But I truly look at those sacrifices as an investment in something bigger. If I travel, I walk, and the funds that I raise for the 3-Day go toward my goal of seeing an end to breast cancer in my lifetime.
The investment is also in what I get out of walking. In my “Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day” blog posts, I’ve been sharing my perspective on some of the incredible experiences of being a 3-Day walker. Day to day life moves so fast (fast technology, fast paced job, fast cars…well, except in L.A. traffic), and walking forces me to slow down and take in every moment. Seeing another corner of the world, sometimes a place that I’ve never been to before, and experiencing what it has to offer from two feet instead of 4 wheels is such a gift.
I know that some of you reading this may be saying, “That’s great for you, but I just can’t do that.” I get it. I respect that making the trip to walk somewhere far from home is not feasible for everyone. It’s a choice I make—and a personal choice for each person—to give up some other things throughout the year so I can do this thing for 3 days. They’re 3 days that fulfill me in an immeasurable way, so for me, the choice is simple, even if getting there will be difficult.
This year, with the 3-Day visiting 7 cities instead of last year’s 14, even more participants will be traveling to their events. It was a tough decision for the 3-Day to exit from cities where we had established deep ties over the years, but it has been inspiring to see so many walkers and teams from those cities accept and embrace the change and look forward to representing their hometowns in a new location this year. Look for big contingents of Tampa Bay walkers taking on Atlanta, Boston and DC walkers descending on Philadelphia, and Chicago and Cleveland folks greeting their Midwest neighbors in Michigan and the Twin Cities.
John and his Miles for Martha teammates will return to a few cities to walk this year, and in the meantime, there are 7 other incredible people (so far!), who are registered to walk in all 7 Komen 3-Day events. If you live in one of those cities, we hope you will welcome them and all of the traveling 3-Day participants to the place that will be their home for the weekend. And if you’re thinking about making the trip to a distant 3-Day destination in 2014, I encourage you to do it. Make it happen! Like with everything 3-Day related, you won’t regret it, and there’s no question that a warm welcome awaits you, too.