Jackie B. from Coppell, TX, knows that her story is not all that different from so many Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participants’ stories. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2005. A few months after the diagnosis, Jackie heard a commercial on the radio for the Komen 3-Day, and something clicked. For Jackie, part of it was the inspiration she felt from seeing her mom’s strength through her treatments, and part of it was the sobering the realization that now, breast cancer was part of her history too. She called her sister and said, “We’re going to do the 3-Day® in honor of Mom.”
They registered and called their team Pink Soles in Motion. That first year, it was just Jackie and her sister, but flash forward 9 years, to the 2014 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, and you’ll see a Pink Soles in Motion team with nearly 100 team members—including walkers, crew members, even Youth Corps members. They are the second largest team on the Dallas/Fort Worth event. That’s what I call motion.
“What’s cool is, every year, you get a few that stay, then you get this new group, then you get some more,” Jackie said. “It’s been a wonderful ride for 9 years, and we don’t see ourselves stopping anytime soon.”
The strength and leadership within the ranks of the Pink Soles in Motion is clear, to the point that Jackie was able to “retire” as captain a few years ago. “We’ve got such strong people on this team, so we switched stuff around,” she says with a smile, and adds, “My second year, I was the only training walk leader on the team. I did every training walk, even the ones on Tuesdays and Thursdays! This year, we must have had 10 training walk leaders.”
After nearly a decade of such active involvement in the 3-Day world, I asked Jackie if anything still surprises her when she comes out to event. “I think it’s always, every year, you go along throughout the year, and then when you come together as a group, and you come to the Opening Ceremony and you’re reminded, ‘Oh, this is why we do this. This is what we’re all about.’ You hear the stories from the Ceremony this morning, briefly, for a few seconds, and you’re reminded.”
It’s that reminder that brings so many people back to the 3-Day year after year: the reality that, though progress is being made, we’re not there yet. Jackie agrees. “Every year we hear of someone else who succumbs to breast cancer, and we say, ‘That’s why we’re still out here.’ And people who have been involved with our team, then all of a sudden, they’re a survivor.” Pink Soles In Motion has nearly a dozen survivors within its ranks, several of whom sat nearby while I talked to Jackie at the Day 1 lunch stop, proudly wearing their Survivor tattoos on their cheeks.
For as strong a presence as the Pink Soles are on the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, they’re far from exclusive. “One of our favorite things to do—because we’re a big team, so we don’t all walk together as a group—is meet new folks. We have met so many people just in the first ten miles today. We love it. Hearing their stories. Why are they here?” Jackie mentioned a particular fondness for meeting solo walkers and welcoming them to the team. She looks around and wonders how many of the current Pink Soles started out as single walkers who they happened to meet along the way.
We’re briefly interrupted as the Pink Soles around us erupt with enthusiastic “Here’s Amy! She made it!” Another Sole-mate, returning to the fold. She reaches down to give Jackie a hug. “Amy’s been doing this a long time too. For some of us, we only see each other this one time a year. Sometimes, those who live in close proximity get together. But others, like Amy, we see her just for the walk, and we connect, especially at camp in the evenings, catch up.” The Dallas/Fort Worth event is where most of the team comes home to reunite each year, though, in the true spirit of this amazing team, they’ve also sent smaller versions of the team to other 3-Day cities over the years.
For those team members who are local to the DFW area, their impact and influence in the breast cancer cause extends throughout the year, not just for these 3 days. “The support we get from the community is amazing. We’re adopted by the Coppell Fire Department every October. Pink Soles In Motion, for about 6 years, have gotten a proclamation from the city. We have a real appreciation, being recognized like that. This year, the mayor of Coppell said, they see Pink Soles In Motion as the ambassador for the city in the fight against breast cancer.” Jackie is proud of the fact that, as a large team, Pink Soles In Motion is able to hold large fundraising events out in the community, raising tremendous awareness along with money.
Nine years is a long history. I asked Jackie what she loves about the 3-Day and her team. “It changes your life forever. You end up going through all kinds of things. You become a big family. The people on this team have a real heart of service. That’s what you see out here. We learn perseverance, and it carries over into our daily lives. It wasn’t until my mother was diagnosed, and it was right in my face, that I really understood how people become passionate about a cause.”
In the case of Jackie and her Pink Soles In Motion teammates, passionate feels like an understatement.