The Susan G. Komen Atlanta 3-Day has finished for another year, and we could not be more thankful for this amazing community and the memorable weekend we shared.
We gathered in the pre-dawn hours on Friday morning at Stone Mountain Park, a breathtaking backdrop as the sun rose just in time for us to begin the 3-Day journey. The incomparable Dr. Sheri was joined on stage by Chrissy Mathews from Susan G. Komen®, as well as Tara, our local events coach in Atlanta, for a moving Opening Ceremony.
Walkers set out onto the route, weaving the first few miles through the beautiful park. After a quick break at the pit stop 1, walkers exited the park and hit the streets and a cheering station in Old Historic Stone Mountain Village. From there, walkers looped through the communities west of Atlanta, making their way toward the city. They passed through the quaint downtown Decatur area, where they were greeted with another cheering station and pit stop 2. A longer break greeted the walkers at lunch, which was one big pajama party, and from there, the route passed through the eclectic neighborhood of Little Five Points. Crew teams at pit stops 3 and 4 kept walkers pumped up and fueled up in the afternoon. As they headed into the downtown Atlanta area, walkers passed by Centennial Olympic Park, built for visitors and spectators of the 1996 Olympic Summer Games. Soon, they had arrived at camp at the Georgia World Congress Center.
Friday night’s camp show, hosted by Dr. Sheri and Chrissy, was emotional. We heard from the Greater Atlanta Affiliate of Susan G. Komen, who told us about the ways that the 3-Day helps fund programs in Atlanta. This was followed by moving speeches from Julie H., who talked about the realities of living with Stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer, and Karen, speaking on behalf of her friend and teammate Rachel who passed away from breast cancer about a month ago. We also recognized Atlanta’s top training walk leader and the Atlanta 3-Day Milestone Award winner.
On Day 2, walkers set out from camp and headed north for the day. Much of Day 2 was spent in the community of Buckhead, where walkers enjoyed the New Balance cheerleaders at a lovely tree-lined pit stop. Yes, there were hills a-plenty on Saturday, but the beautiful scenery and dazzling homes (including the Governor’s mansion) gave the walkers plenty to look at as they climbed. Numerous cheer stations along the way kept weary walkers motivated; a favorite was a grassy stop just before lunch with some lovable pooches who came out to support the walkers. The lunch stop was at the Greater Atlanta Komen Affiliate headquarters, complete with a pink-dyed fountain, and dozens of Komen Atlanta’s people came out to cheer the walkers in. As they headed back toward camp, walkers passed by some of downtown Atlanta’s most popular tourist spots, including the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola.
The camp show on Saturday night was a flurry of awards, as we recognized Atlanta’s top fundraisers and Local Impact Award winners. We heard a touching, and at times funny speech from Gerald, a 10-time walker who shared his story of being a co-survivor to his first two wives, both of whom passed from breast cancer. The Saturday camp show was topped off with some heart-touching messages from the Atlanta Youth Corps, who were the perfect inspirations to kick off the always popular Saturday dance party.
The amount of get-up-and-go at the start of Day 3 was incredible, especially from walkers who had already covered over 40 miles of their journey. The route started out with a stroll and a pit stop on the beautiful Georgia Tech campus, and from there, walkers headed into Piedmont Park, one of Atlanta’s loveliest parks. The lunch stop was rocking once again, as walkers relaxed on the cool sunny day and crew members treated tehm to a non-stop dance-a-thon. A highlight of the afternoon was a walk past the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site before turning towards Turner Field, the site of our Atlanta 3-Day Closing Ceremony.
Walkers crossed the finish line at Turner Field, where hundreds of friends and family members waited to welcome them (and one special guy proposed to his gal as she crossed under the arch!). The unbelievable energy that Atlanta walkers and crew members showed all weekend long seemed to be turned up even more at the Closing Ceremony, where Dr. Sheri, Chrissy and Tara congratulated this amazing Atlanta family on their extraordinary journey. We thanked our marvelous supporters, sponsors and local jurisdictions who helped us along our 60-mile journey, and the whole place erupted with joy when Chrissy shared that a remarkable $2.2 million was raised by Atlanta’s 800 walkers and 275 crew members. The Atlanta 3-Day family danced it out one final time, and as the final flag of the 3-Day was raised, we remembered and repeated the promise we made way back on Friday morning: to never give up our fight until we have ended breast cancer forever.