Those who know the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® know that above all, the Komen 3-Day is a family. New and returning participants alike are greeted with open arms, warmly welcomed into a bold community that is bravely fighting breast cancer with passion, drive and stamina. We caught up with David G. and several of his Cleveland Cleavage teammates, to learn more about what the 3-Day® means to them.
David’s friendly blue eyes twinkle as he recounts his numerous 3-Day events; all told, David has raised over $24,000 in the 11 3-Day events he’s been a part of (nine as a walker and two as a crew member). David became involved in the Komen community in 2005 by participating in several Race for the Cure® events in Cleveland with Nancy, a decades-long friend who was battling breast cancer. David decided to walk the 3-Day for her and several other people in his life who were lost to cancer. “I decided to surprise her in 2010 and told her that I was going to be doing the 3-Day. She was over the moon happy. I did it in July of 2010 in Cleveland, did the final Race for the Cure with her two months later, and then about three weeks later she took her final turn, after a ten year fight. I walk for her, and for my grandma, my best friend, my neighbor. I’m walking for them all,” said David.
Like David, his new Cleveland Cleavage teammate Rachel K., from Macomb, Michigan, also has a very personal connection to the cause. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Rachel remembers those she’s walking for as a way to keep her inspired on the route. “I always remember the reasons why I’m walking. Don’t forget, because those people are cheering you on. That’s what gets me through.” Rachel walked the 3-Day once before in 2008. (Fun fact: Rachel joined the Cleveland Cleavage team after seeing the team’s photos on Instagram!)
In addition to Rachel, David was joined this weekend in Michigan by several other members of the Cleveland Cleavage team, and his face lights up as he describes his love for Cleveland. “Born there, raised there, lived there my entire life. I love Cleveland!” While the team’s name is inspired by the Ohio city, the sixteen members of the team (including one Youth Corps member) are from all over the country, including Michigan, California, Kansas, Missouri, and Virginia. “We’ve got half the country represented,” David jokes.
What does this bunch think of walking Michigan, even when their team names boasts an allegiance to Cleveland? “I could almost throw a rock at Michigan from there,” David says of Cleveland. “I’m blessed to still be so close to an event,” he said. “I’m driving to Philly and flying to San Diego, so distance won’t deter me.” He adds, “Plymouth was the most awesome cheering station I’ve ever seen.” That’s saying a lot, from a guy with David’s level of experience.
David’s love of the Cleveland community also echoes in the way he’s successfully raised funds over the years. David describes his fundraising efforts as creative and local, including several types of events like bowling parties and wing nights. “I just try to come up with new things,” he said.
It’s a pleasure talking with David and his teammates, and before we know it, their lunch break has ended and they’re ready to keep moving. I know that with the Michigan 3-Day Closing Ceremony just a few hours away, this may be the last time I see David on this event, but I smile knowing I’ll spot his tall, smiling personage in more 2014 3-Day cities. His parting thoughts? “Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the people. Enjoy the atmosphere. If you walk all 60, great. But you’ve already done the hard part by fundraising to get here. And that’s where you help the cause. The walk is a celebration of that.”