A Disruption of Pink – Seattle 3-Day Team GTM

This is team GTM.IMG_8363 GTM stands for Gargantuan Thrill Machine. Of course, my first order of business when I sat down with sisters Jennifer and Sue MacMenamin at lunch on Day 2 of the Seattle 3-Day was to find out where that name came from.

“When we were in high school, maybe a little bit into college, we started a basement band, and that’s what we called it. The Gargantuan Thrill Machine, GTM for short. It came from a movie review on the back of a VHS copy of an old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that was described as ‘a gargantuan thrill machine,’ and we just thought it was a great name for a band.”

A couple decades later, it was clear that GTM was also the perfect name for a 3-Day team. And not just any team; team GTM includes all five MacMenamin siblings, both parents, an aunt who came out from Ireland (where Mom and Dad MacMenamin are originally from as well), and a healthy smattering of very supportive friends. They are all first-timer walkers except for Jen, who walked in the Twin Cities 3-Day in 2010 with a friend whose mom died from breast cancer.

What brought their extended family to the Seattle 3-Day this year was the deeply personal motivation that brings so many people to the 3-Day: one of them got breast cancer. Sue was diagnosed last summer and just finished treatment this past August. As she got stronger in the spring, she started to get the idea of doing something. “Jen and I were on the phone once at work, and we thought, it’s coming up, we could do it. Let’s do it! So we signed up.”

Sue and Jen on Day 1 in Seattle.

Sue and Jen on Day 1 in Seattle.

They didn’t have much anxiety over walking 60 miles in 3 days, but the fundraising aspect made them a little nervous. Turns out, they didn’t have much to be nervous about; the 12-person Gargantuan Thrill Machine raised over $31,000, putting them in the top 10 fundraising teams in Seattle. “We all did our own things,” Jen told me. “Some people reached out on emails and texts. A couple of bake sales that our kids did.” Sue added with a laugh, “We did one bake sale with my kids at Shilshole Marina [in Seattle], and my 6-year-old daughter would run up to anybody who was walking down the docks and yell, ‘We’re having a fundraiser for breast cancer! We’re selling cookies!’ And then she would do the splits. Jen told us, don’t let the fundraising hold you back. People will support you. It will happen.”

Sue was the first person in the MacMenamin family to be diagnosed with breast cancer, so the family went from having no family history to suddenly having a very strong connection.

“Just from talking to the family, we’ve sort of never faced a type of stress that we couldn’t do anything about,” Jen said. “And so, the idea of this coming up was…everybody was so far away from Sue, and we all tried to be here, tried to be here, but there was nothing we could do for her. Treatment had to take its course. But the 3-Day felt like something that could focus our energy somewhere on something good.”

There was no hesitation from any of the MacMenamins to sign on, even though they are spread out over four states (and don’t forget Aunt Bea from Dublin). “It is remarkable. We’re incredibly, incredibly lucky, and I have been lucky this whole year.” Sue gets choked up and hugs her sister. “They’re really good.”IMG_8354

“The whole thing has been great,” Jen says. “It’s a beautiful walk, and everyone cheering, and all of us being together and having time to talk. That was one thing we were looking forward to. We’re all spread out, we each have kids, we don’t really get moments to get away and just be adults and chat and talk about life.”

Sue agrees. “For us, it’s a great way for all of us to be able to talk about our experience with breast cancer, for them to talk about it, and to talk about it in a positive way. All the people who are helping, all the research that’s being done, all the activism. It just helps to focus on the positive aspects.”

We talked about the whole idea of breast cancer awareness, and how it’s such a great thing, but also difficult, especially when it comes to our kids. “I know my kids worried about me dying,” Sue shared. “But they also see so many people that we call survivors. They see people, they know people. ‘Oh yeah, her mom’s a survivor, or his mom’s a survivor.’ It’s because there IS this presence, they see those examples.” Jen adds, “That’s one of the neat things about these types of events, the long walks of awareness, through all these neighborhoods. It’s a disruption of pink.”

A gargantuan disruption of pink—with an occasional pop of a green shamrock (they are Irish, after all).

On Day 2 of the Seattle 3-Day, when we had our conversation, I knew it may be too soon to tell, but I asked them anyway: do you think you’ll do it again? Sue thought about her answer for a second before responding, “I’d never say never, so who knows, but I will say that this time, this event has been so special that we just can’t recreate it.”

Congratulations to the 2015 San Diego 3-Day Award Winners

It was our honor to recognize the hard work and dedication of some of the outstanding participants of the Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day with special awards.

Top Fundraisers

The top crew fundraiser for the San Diego 3-Day was Heidi De Young from the Gear & Tent crew team, who raised $3,743. Over her sixteen events (covering eleven years) as a 3-Day participant, she has raised a total of $45,735. When she’s not walking the 3-Day with her team, the Coconutter Shutters, or crewing, Heidi enjoys dancing, especially ballroom dancing (though really any kind of dancing will do).SD top crew Heidi De Young

The top fundraising team for the San Diego 3-Day, Powered By Optimism, was also the largest team on the event. With 116 members, led by their captain Amy Benoit, the team raised a total of $279,375. Amy also received recognition as San Diego’s Top Training Walk Leader. Over the course of their history with the 3-Day, Powered by Optimism has raised a total of $1,192, 346! Incredible!SD top team PBO Amy Benoit

The top individual fundraiser for the San Diego 3-Day was Kathy Giller of team Breast Man Walking, who raised an astonishing $52,410! Kathy’s husband Lee is a breast cancer survivor and was a part of the Survivor Circle in the San Diego Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Over Kathy’s ten years and eighteen events with the 3-Day, she has raised a total of $290,380, but it doesn’t stop there: since Lee’s diagnosis with breast cancer ten years ago, Kathy and her family have together raised over $380,000 to help find a cure for breast cancer.SD top individual Kathy GillerKathy and Lee Giller

We applaud our top fundraisers, as well as the San Diego 3-Day community as a whole, who together raised a jaw-dropping $5.9 million in donations.

Milestone Award

The Milestone Award is given on each 3-Day event to one participant who has an extraordinary history of involvement with the 3-Day. This year, The Milestone Award for San Diego was presented to Lucy Millman.SD Milestone Lucy Millman

Over her eleven years and eleven events with the 3-Day as a part of team Sole Sisters, Lucy has raised a total of $174,179. For the second year in a row, Lucy is sharing her 3-Day weekend experience with her cousin and teammate, Emily. Emily spoke about her family, as well as Lucy’s history with breast cancer, “My cousin Lucy is the eldest of fifteen cousins; our mothers are two of five girls. We all grew up near each other, so we cousins are closer than many siblings. Our family first encountered breast cancer in 1976, when our Aunt Judy died at the age of forty-five. Then fifteen years ago, Lucy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She courageously fought and beat that first round, then was diagnosed a second time in 2007. I’m pleased to report that in 2015, Lucy celebrates nine years cancer-free! Lucy is the first person I call in times of trouble, always reassuring, and ready to provide a caring, nonjudgmental viewpoint. I’m walking with Lucy this year for the second time. We walk to honor her battles, in support of all of our survivor friends, and in memory of those who have lost their lives, but whose spirits fight on.”

Before participating in the San Diego event, Lucy was integral to the Chicago 3-Day when she lived in Illinois. Her friend Joan shared, “She was a volunteer, a top fundraiser, and a mentor to other walkers. She is an advocate for this great cause and she works tirelessly to raise awareness about breast cancer and for Komen. She is a person who expects no recognition for all of her efforts and she shies away from the spotlight. She is a fantastic example of a survivor who continues to fight for others.”

We’re certainly glad Lucy emerged from her cave for the San Diego 3-Day. We’re inspired by her story and grateful for her phenomenal dedication to a world free of breast cancer.

Local Impact Award

The Local Impact Award was a new award for 2015, and was presented to a participant in each 3-Day city who has been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day in their community throughout the year. Local Impact Award honorees are participants who go above and beyond with things like leading training walks, attending local events, supporting the local 3-Day staff year-round at meet-ups and workshops, and in general, making a difference in their 3-Day community by building lasting relationships and showing commitment to the 3-Day in all they do.

We were pleased to honor walker Martin Heflin of team Powered By Optimism with the Local Impact Award at the San Diego 3-Day. Over the course of his seven years and thirteen 3-Day events, he’s raised a total of $30,390. SD Local Impact Martin HeflinAmy, Martin’s friend and co-captain, enthusiastically agreed that Martin was the perfect recipient for the award, “Impactful:  Yes! That’s a great descriptive term for Martin Heflin.  People may come to one of the walks he’s hosting simply to get started training.  It doesn’t take more than a 1/2 lap around Miramar Lake before they find themselves fully motivated to join a team and immerse themselves in the entire 3-Day experience (well, except camping, …we all know how Martin feels about camping).  Martin shares humorous stories and uses his endless charm to make people feel a sense of welcome and belonging.  Bottom line, he adds to the success of the organization because of his miraculous recruiting and retention skills.  Beyond that, year after year he raises well above the minimum required to participate and in addition to his numerous acts of volunteerism, he is also the well-loved co-caption of the San Diego based team, Powered by Optimism.  He’s played a HUGE part in their overall success and can proudly say that, with them, he’s raised over one million dollars in the fight to end breast cancer.  Now that’s impactful.”

What does a go-getter like Martin have against camping? Well, he served in the Army for four years, which explains his preference of staying in a hotel instead of a pink tent. Another fun fact about Martin: he was once a tour guide at the San Diego Zoo and can still remember the script verbatim (just ask him). He also loves Disneyland, and he and his family visit several times each year. From what we’ve seen and heard of Martin, Disney, in all of its magic and splendor, seems to be a fitting vacation destination for him. His friend and fellow teammate, Deborah, shared, “When I first met Martin five years ago he was co-captain of Powered by Optimism, but it wasn’t long before I was aware of how important he has become to the Komen cause overall,” said his friend and fellow teammate, Deborah, “It’s easy to underestimate Martin, because he deflects attention with self-deprecating humor and good conversation. But make no mistake, he is a force to be reckoned with in the world of breast cancer fundraising, volunteering and walking to raise awareness. He routinely raises far more than the minimum each year for the San Diego 3-Day, and volunteers in multiple cities as crew. If you have the opportunity to walk with Martin in a 3-Day, you’ll be entertained by his wit and wisdom and motivated by his child-like exuberance – that’s if you can keep up with him.”

A big thank you to Martin for his outstanding charisma and commitment to the 3-Day. And, of course, congratulations to the entire San Diego 3-Day family for a truly remarkable year!

December 1 is #GivingTuesday – Give Some Love to the 3-Day

This week marks the countdown to one of the busiest weekends of the year. On Thursday, families and friends will join to celebrate Thanksgiving. But just when the leftover turkey is packed up and the dishes are all (well, mostly) cleaned, here comes the shopping frenzy known as Black Friday, followed by the continued retail bustle on Saturday and Sunday. After that is Cyber Monday, the day when millions of consumers get out of the stores and on to their computers to find online deals and discounts. All told, American consumers spend billions of dollars getting a jump on holiday shopping.

But then, as the dust settles from the busy retail weekend, we have the breath of fresh air known as #GivingTuesday.

The website for #GivingTuesday (yes, the hashtag is part of the day’s name) shares this description of the holiday: “Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.”

The 3-Day = Giving

Here at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, we witness our participants’ dedication to giving. Every year, thousands of Komen 3-Day walkers and crew members give their energy, time, passion, emotion, and in some cases, even their toenails in a truly extraordinary effort to put an end to breast cancer.IMG_7506

And then there are the tens of thousands of 3-Day® donors who give their hard-earned dollars to fund Susan G. Komen®’s critical mission programs of research, community health, education, public policy and global initiatives.

Here are a few ways that the 3-Day community can make the most of #GivingTuesday:

  • Make the Commitment – If you haven’t already, register to walk the 3-Day in 2016. Registration for all 2016 3-Day events is open, and if you register by December 9, registration is just $35.IMG_8162
  • Make a Big Push for Donations – For those of you already registered for a 2016 3-Day event, use #GivingTuesday to make a big push for donations. Social media will be bustling with #GivingTuesday activity on December 1, so to help your efforts stand out, we’ve made some inspiring graphics for the 3-Day. You are welcome and encouraged to download and share these images next Tuesday. 3Day_2015_SocialMedia_Holidays_GivingTuesday_001_B 3Day_2015_SocialMedia_Holidays_GivingTuesday_002_B 3Day_2015_SocialMedia_Holidays_GivingTuesday_003_B 3Day_2015_SocialMedia_Holidays_GivingTuesday_004_B 3Day_2015_SocialMedia_Holidays_GivingTuesday_005_B
  • Make Yourself Seen – #GivingTuesday is promoted as a social media-driven day of charitable giving, so posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be your go-to methods of reaching people on December 1. This is not a day to be shy on social media; go ahead and post frequently without worrying about being “pushy.” This will be a day when people want to give; use our tools (and the quote photos above) to make yourself and your 3-Day fundraising stand out. Go to The3Day.org/Widgets to add the 3-Day app to your Facebook page, and check out our suggested messages for social media at The3Day.org/Social.
  • Make it Easy – Remember, the easiest way for donors to give to your 3-Day fundraising efforts is online, and the easiest way for them to find YOU is through your personal URL (the web address that will point donors directly to your personal fundraising page). Need help setting up your personal URL? Click here for a handy how-to, or call the 3-Day coaches at 800-996-3DAY for help.

We’re eager to see how you make #GivingTuesday a remarkable day for the 3-Day! Be sure to share your stories with us on social media, and don’t forget to tag us with #The3Day in your posts.