Ask just about any Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participant, and they’ll tell you how much they love the event. But every once in a while we hear a story of true, romantic love blooming on the Komen 3-Day.
Lea and Ryan met in high school, but didn’t know each other very well until they reconnected online 11 years later. Ryan was living near San Diego at the time, and Lea was in northern California. The long-distance flame was kindled, and their first real date was in 2005 when Ryan picked Lea up from the San Diego airport and took her and her teammates to the 3-Day Opening Ceremony (what a guy!). Lea says, “Ryan was so thrown by the emotion and sense of community that he felt at that Opening Ceremony, he instantly knew he wanted to join me next year. He was still not convinced he could walk 60 miles, so in 2006 we joined the San Diego 3-Day Crew together. We started walking together in 2007.”
Ryan moved back to the Bay Area in 2008, and since the 3-Day returned to San Francisco that year, they were excited to be in a city where their friends and family could come cheer them on. Little did Lea know that Ryan was even more excited that their families were near, because he was planning a special celebration for Sunday of that 3-Day weekend. On Day 3, at pit stop 3, on their 3rd 3-Day together, Ryan pulled Lea aside and proposed. “I was in shock and didn’t know what was happening until a walker screamed out, ‘Oh my God, he’s proposing!’” Lea recalls. “And rather than answer right away my first response was, ‘Have you been carrying that ring this whole time?’ Needless to say, that is one of my favorite 3-Day moments.”
The role that the 3-Day played in Lea and Ryan’s courtship didn’t stop with Ryan’s pit stop proposal. They scheduled their wedding around the 3-Day, intending to get married the weekend before the 2009 San Francisco event. The plan was to kick off their honeymoon by walking in the 3-Day. But the 3-Day had other plans for them. “The day we put the deposit down for our wedding, we got an email that the date for the San Francisco 3-Day was moved up a weekend.”
So they made a small adjustment to the plan.
In October of 2009, Ryan and Lea started Day 1 of the San Francisco 3-Day as an engaged couple. On Day 2, they left the route to do another walk of their own – down the aisle. Then on Day 3, they came back to finish the walk as husband and wife. “It couldn’t have been any better,” Lea says.
They even used the 3-Day as a focus for their wedding. They had a traditional “money dance” at the reception and all the proceeds went toward their 3-Day fundraising goals for 2010. They had a dessert bar with all pink treats, a signature cocktail called “The Pink Ribbon” and their wedding colors were pink and black.
“We are so proud that the 3-Day is not just something that we do, it’s a part of our story.”
Sigh. Beautiful, isn’t it?
Click here to see the news story that a local station did about the happy couple. (Please note that this story is a few years old, and the registration information that the reporter shares at the end of the piece is no longer valid.)
Lea and Ryan will be celebrating their 5-year wedding anniversary this October, just a few weeks before they walk in San Diego, their tenth event together.