While you’re out on the route on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, you’ll meet all kinds of people: some first-timers with butterflies in their tummies, some seasoned veterans who approach 20 miles like a quick afternoon stroll. You’ll meet dedicated crew members who donate their time and talents in a multitude of ways, from remedying your blisters to keeping you safe and on track. You’ll meet members of the community who come out adorned in every shade of pink, ready to hand you frozen grapes, a cold drink, a new button, or just to cheer you on. There’s no doubt that this wide variety of people, from every walk of life, is what makes the Komen 3-Day family so incredible. Today, I had the opportunity to meet Dave P., a police officer from Wisconsin who, on the 3-Day®, is known as “Mullet Pig.” Dave is a local celebrity on the Twin Cities event; in fact, in the short time I spoke with him, he was approached for three selfies with participants. Dave is on the Twin Cities Route Safety crew team for the sixth time this year; it his 7th 3-Day (he walked once as part of the 60 Mile Men team), and last year, he crewed in San Francisco as well. Mullet Pig also has his own Facebook profile, and he lovingly calls his fans the “Bacon Nation.”
Though we can’t see his feet, Dave tells us about his “10 little piggies”, which are his polished toenails wiggling to the beat of the music blasting at today’s lunch stop. Each toe is painted for someone in his life who has battled breast cancer. “I have 10 relatives that have been affected by breast cancer. Seven are survivors, and three are pink angels. My mother was a 32 year survivor who passed away two years ago. It’s hard to be sad about that, I got 32 more years with her… She owes her 32 years to research and the things that Komen does.” Dave’s grandmother was also diagnosed with breast cancer, and his sister is a survivor.
Besides his deeply personal connection to the cause, what keeps Dave coming back year after year is the 3-Day community. “I’ve known so many people and you get to know everyone as the family. We’re a family.”
When people ask Mullet Pig why he does what he does, he says that he does it for the little boost he can give someone that just might make their day. Dave tells us about a participant he encountered last year who told him that every day, she had seen a sign from her father who had passed away. On the last day, she was a mile from finishing and hadn’t yet seen a sign that her dad was with her that day. She turned the corner, and there was Mullet Pig, loudly singing her dad’s favorite song. “That’s why I do what I do. I never know what I’m going to do, and how it’s going to affect someone, so I just do my best to do something. I like to put a smile on people’s faces.”
Dave describes many other ways he gives people a boost–from the shockingly pink lipstick kiss mark he’ll place on your cheek, to walking the last mile with weary walkers who think that they just can’t go on. As Dave grooves to “Sexy Back,” I ask him how and why he chose the name Mullet Pig. In 2008, after a crew event, he and his wife went shopping for 3-Day decorations. “I went by the dollar bin and saw something pink and pulled out this pig mask. I also grabbed a pink wig, and tied it to the end of the mask. I start wearing it, and all of a sudden people start calling me Pig Man. Everyone was calling me Pig Man. I didn’t like Pig Man, so I told this guy to think of another name. ‘Well, you’re a pig with a mullet,’ he said. ‘Mullet pig!’ And that’s how Mullet Pig was born.”
As another loving fan from the Bacon Nation approaches Mullet Pig for a photo, I ask him if there’s anything else he’d like to add. With his trademark pig mask tucked behind one ear, he says, “We’ve come too far to quit. There are other people that can’t quit. We have to keep going. We do this for the survivors. For the ones that can’t walk. We’ve come this far. We have to keep going.” With the help of people like Mullet Pig, we will.