Survivors are the heroes of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. They remind us of one of the many reasons why we walk: because everyone deserves a lifetime. Today, we’re delighted to introduce you to Pala L., from Livonia, Michigan. Pala walked the Komen 3-Day in Michigan last week and is going strong for another 60 miles this week in the Twin Cities. This is Pala’s 14th 3-Day® since 2009, and she has previously walked Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Tampa and Arizona. “I was going to walk it once to see what it was like,” said Pala. “I was training in 2009 and when registration opened in 2010, I registered before I even walked the first time! I never dreamed I would be walking so many events per year.”
In 2003, Pala was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I went from being told in March I had a clean mammogram to a lumpectomy in July because I found the lump. I had a six month old granddaughter, and the hardest part of my treatments was not being able to see her because of my low blood count. I don’t want her and that generation to worry about going through things I did. Her other grandmother was diagnosed a year after me, and she has it coming from both sides. I can’t have that.”
In 2007, the 3-Day route went by Pala’s house. Pala was two years out from treatment, and had no idea the 3-Day was in town. “I went outside and cheered. The walkers would say thank you for being here, thanks for coming out. And I thought, I’m just standing here, you’re doing all the work. In 2008, my husband and I stood out there, and again, they thanked us. In 2009, I said to my husband, I want to try this. I want to see what it’s about. I want to see if I can do it. I had no idea if I could fundraise. I had no idea if I could walk 60 miles. 14 events later… here I am.”
Pala works on fundraising for ten and a half months out of every year, and after walking 14 events, she’s learned to approach fundraising from many different angles. “I do everything that I can think of,” she said. She starts with writing letters, but her biggest fundraiser is her annual garage sale, and she also dabbles in recycling cans and ink cartridges. Pala also teaches monthly card-making workshops for donations, and reminds nervous fundraisers that the best way to fundraise is to think about what you like to do and figure out how you can make donations from it.
Pala’s passion for the 3-Day is obvious as she describes her love of finding creative ways to fundraise and the joy she gets from being around so many inspiring people. Pala embodies the type of commitment and dedication we see in so many 3-Day participants. What does she tell herself when the last few miles of the day are feeling tough? “Put one foot in front of the other. It’s like a person going through treatment who says, how can I get through this? One day at a time. One step at a time.”