Every one of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® coaches has countless inspiring and moving interactions with our amazing Komen 3-Day walkers and crew members. I asked them to relive some of their most touching memories from the 2014 3-Day® season.
Gayla Cruikshank (Dallas/Fort Worth Local Events Coach) – I am honored to know so many outstanding Susan G. Komen 3-Day walkers and crew who work literally all year long to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer while still taking care of their own careers and families. It’s a true privilege to be a part of an organization that helps so many people.
One of my greatest memories of 2014 is being backstage before Opening Ceremony with the survivors and the participants who carried memorial photos and honor flags. The energy and hugs were amazing! The stories and tears were emotional and inspiring, like Lisa L., walking in her memory of her daughter Sasha, who died at age 26.
I was inspired by 80-year-old Ralph M, who has walked for three years and has raised over $11,000. He recently asked me how he could help a friend who has been re-diagnosed with breast cancer and needed help. I sent him to the local Komen North Texas Affiliate and within a few hours they were able to connect her with a grantee who will assist her with her insurance and treatments. Even beyond his work with the 3-Day, Ralph is helping others daily.
I also had such a great time having my own family members on the event this year (my 16-year-old Codi participated with Young Women Walking, and my 23-year-old daughter Darcy and my mom, Doy, crewed the Ta-Ta Towing sweep van).
Paula Hultman (Seattle Participant Coach) – San Diego walker Lori B. registered for the 3-Day just weeks before the event. She is a survivor and first-time walker who was determined to do whatever it took to reach her fundraising goal and walk in her first 3-Day. Unfortunately, Lori’s dad passed away suddenly about 3 weeks before the 3-Day was to take place, and Lori’s attention immediately was redirected to her family. I spoke with her and told her to focus on her family, and suggested she postpone her 3-Day journey to 2015. Lori wouldn’t have it. She was more determined than ever to reach her fundraising goal and participate – for herself, and now in her father’s memory. And that’s exactly what she did! She called after her event and said the 3-Day was more amazing than she could have ever imagined. Lori is my 2014 San Diego 3-Day hero – and she is already registered and fundraising for 2015!
Ann Love (Michigan Local Events Coach) – I think my most memorable moment was being backstage as the folks who were carrying memorial photos in Opening Ceremony saw the enlarged pictures of their loved ones for the first time. There were tears and smiles and hugs. All the memories, happy and sad, that those pictures brought out in the participants and then the support offered by their fellow participants as well as all the staff that was back there – it’s why I love the event. It’s not always easy, but there’s always someone to lift you up when you need it.
Eileen Barnick (Twin Cities Participant Coach) – There are so many great memories and I can’t remember them all now! I do know that it changed over the course of the year. Every time I hit a highlight, there was another one right behind it! Some of them included: finally meeting in person the friends I had met over the phone during the course of the season; registering a very nervous “I am not sure I can fundraise” participant eight weeks before our event and then seeing her become the number two fundraiser; meeting participants on our event who told me I was the reason they were there; getting camp mail in San Diego from one of the full-series walkers, thanking me for what I do each day. There were also some moments that gave me goosebumps and broke my heart, such as hearing Ashley and Nicole tell their story on stage in the Twin Cities, and seeing one of our long time Twin Cities participants being pushed into Closing Ceremony in a wheelchair, knowing that her remaining days were short. She passed away in October.
And of course the biggest highlight was being on event in so many cities this year and seeing first-hand the amazing people who are making a difference in others’ lives every day.
Jon Lueders (Seattle Crew & Volunteer Coordinator) – We had a walker in Seattle named Dena who was celebrating the fact that she made it through Day 1 by literally jumping for joy at the finish line. But she landed wrong and hurt her knee to the point of being unable to walk the rest of the event. I was approached and asked if we could allow her husband to push Dena in a wheelchair the rest of the weekend. I of course was happy to oblige, to the joy and relief of both husband and wife.
As this was a happy yet fleeting moment, I was pleasantly surprised when I got to see Dena later in the event series. Even with her injury, she was determined to walk an entire 3-Day event this year, and got back to work rehabbing and training for the San Diego 3-Day. Unfortunately, her injury worsened, and was unable to walk once again. But this did not stop her from making the trip to San Diego to support her team. When I had the chance to speak with her, she said something to the effect of “Of course I was going to be here to support my team. They supported me when I was hurt in Seattle, I want to pay it back.” This, for me, just solidified the dedication we find on event. Not just the dedication to walk and raise funds, but the dedication each walker feels to their 3-Day family.