Coaches’ Favorite Moments from 2014 – Part 2

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 (see Part 1 of these favorite moments here).

Aubrey Cushing (Seattle Local Events Coach) – The 2014 3-Day season as a whole is one I will hold very close to my heart forever. The opportunity to be on staff in 5 of the 7 events lent me ample opportunities to interact with the world’s most caring bunch of people. I never forget how rare it is to be so enamored with the work you do, and what I get to do is one of my life’s treasures. Of course, it was wonderful to see all of the hard work come together for the Seattle event this year, and I’m still hearing about how much fun people had. That feels magnificent because it shows we were in tune with what people would like, and that’s priceless. The crew teams I got to work with were fantastic, but pit stop 2 in Dallas was the highlight of my staffing events outside of Seattle. I feel very blessed to have seen so much beauty in a world that can sometimes be full of negative things. In the words of Sinead O’Connor, 2014 3-Day season, “Nothing compares to you!”Aubrey_DFW

Jen Haber (Philadelphia Participant Coach) – The person who most inspired me this season was Janet D., who was our #2 fundraiser this year in Philly. Janet is 31 years old and was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in January of 2014. She spent the entire year in treatment and training/fundraising for the 3-Day. She walked with her sisters and best friends. When we spoke on the phone at one point in the season, she was telling me about the treatment she was going through and how (of course) it made training more of a challenge, she also made a point to tell me how much the 3-Day had been a huge source of inspiration for her. It made me feel so good that she was so focused on doing something positive while going through something so incredibly difficult. Since I wasn’t working at the Philly event, I’m so sad I didn’t get the chance to meet her in person but she and her team are signed up again for next year. Hooray!2015 personal page_Janet

Kim Collings (San Diego Local Events Coach) – A young first-time walker came to me during a Walk & Talk earlier in the year, almost in tears thinking there was no way she would ever be able to raise $2300. After a nice conversation about different fundraising ideas, she went home and tried a few different things that we chatted about. She ended up raising $5050! There was another special moment watching a mother and daughter at the Closing Ceremony. The daughter is stage 4 and it has metastasized in to her spine. The mother said in her ceremonies speech, “I am walking so my daughter can live.”

Jennifer Hanskat (Michigan Participant Coach) – One of my favorite moments came in Michigan where I finally got to meet all of the full-series walkers (the eight people who walked in every 3-Day event this year) for the first time and putting faces to the names.  I had been working with these amazing walkers over months of email and phone communication, and it was nice to meet everyone face-to-face.hanskat and series walkers

I worked at pit stops on the route for Atlanta and Dallas/Fort Worth, crewed with my mom and my aunt in Twin Cities (we’re three peas in a pod, and wherever we go and whatever we do, we have a blast), and walked in Philadelphia. Even though I hit my head after nasty spill on the rainy sidewalk in Philly, it was still one of my favorite events because I was walking with my husband.  For the majority of the weekend, it was just the two of us, walking and talking.  No big team, very few shenanigans (which is unusual for me!), just low-key time on the 3-Day with my hubby.

Molly Fast (Local Operations Director) – The moment that sticks out to me the most was from the Twin Cities 3-Day where I met Anna, a walker who turned 21 on the event and was walking with her sister Carley, in honor of their mother. Their mom was a longtime 3-Day participant who was home at the end stages of breast cancer. Anna and Carley’s mom passed away about an hour after they made it home from the Closing Ceremony. It was heartbreaking but so beautiful.

Stephanie Winkel (Twin Cities Local Events Coach) – I met Sandy at one of my very last Get Started Meetings of the season, just 3 months shy of the Twin Cities 3-Day. She was brand new to the 3-Day and she brought her husband along with her to see what the 3-Day was all about. It was at this meeting that I learned about Sandy’s inspiration for walking: her best friend’s daughter-in-law, Alison, a beautiful young woman, who at just 30 years old had begun the third year of her fierce and courageous battle with breast cancer.  The love and support of her two small children, husband, family, friends and community had been an inspiration for Sandy to witness. Though this family lived quite a distance away, Sandy felt the need to do something to show her love and support for not only this family but others currently battling breast cancer. After learning about the 3-Day, Sandy did go home and register.

I followed up with Sandy after our event to see how she enjoyed her first 3-Day. She replied, “The 3-Day experience was beyond my wildest dreams.  It was a ‘calling’ that I was compelled to take up, and was truly life-changing.  I needed to be a part of something that made a difference.  I definitely found that, and so much more. My reason for walking was to raise positive energy and funds that in combination would lead to a miracle for her and others.” I was thrilled to learn at this time that Alison, Sandy’s inspiration for walking, is now in remission and beginning to get back to life with her husband and two children. Sandy, in the meantime, will continue her efforts of bringing hope and healing to others by joining us again in 2015!


Coaches’ Favorite Moments from 2014 – Part 1

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.gayla backstage 2

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.dfw ralph

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!Lori Brown 2

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.

Give a Year-End Bump to Your 3-Day Fundraising

There’s no mistaking that December is one of the busiest months of the year for most people. And it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that many Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participants are focusing on things other than their fundraising efforts for the 2015 Komen 3-Day. That said, there are some easy and efficient ways to give a little nudge to your 3-Day® fundraising this month before we turn over the calendar to 2015.



Ask! – If we here at the 3-Day sound like a broken record with this piece of fundraising advice, it’s for a very good reason: it works! The single best way for you to receive donations is to ask for them. Simple as that. And December is as good a month as any to ask. You’re likely to be seeing more family and friends in person than in most months, and an in-person ask is the most powerful and effective.

Leverage the Holidays – Everyone is running around like crazy getting their holiday preparations done. If you’re not swamped with holiday to-dos yourself, volunteer to help out your friends and family in return for 3-Day donations. You can offer your services as a babysitter so parents can go shopping or attend holiday parties. You can wrap gifts. If you’ve got a culinary bent, you could prepare food for festivities. Feeling extra handy? Offer to hang holiday lights on houses.

Add an Ask to Your Holiday Cards – If you’re like me, you’ve got a list as long as your arm of loved ones who will be getting your family’s Christmas card this year. Did you know that the 3-Day has these handy inserts (for walkers and crew), which you can print out and include with your holiday cards? You’re sending love and good cheer to all those people anyway, so why not let them know that you’ve also committed to hope and change in the new year by walking in the 3-Day, and ask for their support?2015_SGK_Holiday-Card-Insert_Walker_fp 2015_SGK_Holiday-Card-Insert_Crew_fp

Offer a Friendly Tax Reminder – Most people are already aware, but it never hurts to remind your supporters that any charitable donations made in calendar year 2014 will be tax deductible in 2015. In fact, research has shown that more online charitable donations are made on December 31 than any other day of the year. If your donors give one more time before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, it will end up benefitting not only the fight against breast cancer, but potentially their 2015 tax return too! You can even turn it into a fun “Countdown to the Cure” gimmick on the 31st; each hour, post a challenge on Facebook or Twitter asking your friends to get their donations in before the ball drops.

Keep Your Expectations Realistic – It’s possible that your 3-Day fundraising may get a little bit (or a lot) neglected in December, and that’s totally fine and understandable. If you’re able to get just one donation this month, it’s one donation more than you had, and one step closer to your goal. We know that, no matter what, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running (well, walking, but walking with purpose!) in 2015.

What are your best year-end fundraising strategies?