Sandy and the “Ribbon Effect”

Last year on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, we began a new tradition of sharing Promise Ribbons, a colorful, simple yet touching way for walkers and crew members to share their hopes and promises with each other and their supporters. But for Sandy Kazinski, a 12-time 3-Day walker from New York, sharing ribbons has been a tradition that has spanned many miles for years before Promise Ribbons came on the scene.2015_3DAY_TCSat_EDB (41)

Easily recognizable on the 3-Day in her ribbon-covered hat, Sandy has personally made and shared thousands of pink ribbon pins with other walkers.

I had the chance to meet Sandy at the Twin Cities 3-Day last August and find out the story behind her ribbon fixation. “I was always sending little thank you notes to donors and I wanted to send something fun and something personal with them.” She would find little breast cancer items to send—pads of sticky notes and other knick-knacks—all marked in some way with pink ribbons, but she started to feel like those weren’t personal enough. She decided to start including an actual pink ribbon with a pin, and the idea quickly snowballed. Not content to use just solid pink either, Sandy began seeking out fun patterns. “I got online and I was finding this website and that ribbon site and this gift shop and I just got a little…crazy obsessive?” Sandy said with a laugh.sandy's ribbons 2

Spools of ribbons. Dozens of designs. Piles of safety pins. It became Sandy’s nightly routine to sit and watch the 11 o’clock news, cutting and pinning ribbons the whole time. Every night. She would pin during commutes. She would pin on winter days in New York with the snow falling outside her window. Before long, the ribbons vastly outstripped the number of donors she had to send them to. So her ribbon-sharing expanded.

Sandy started handing out ribbons on training walks she hosted. She participates in other breast cancer events, including the NYC Race for the Cure® and hands out ribbons there. And she began mailing ribbons—bagfuls at a time—to 3-Day walkers in other cities. It started with people she knew or had met on her many 3-Days throughout the country, but soon the ribbon mailings spread to include strangers too. “I go onto the message boards,” Sandy shared. “If I see somebody’s story, or see that somebody has been helpful to somebody else (volunteering to be a tentmate, or offering someone a ride from the airport), I’ll send them ribbons.” There are 3-Day walkers whom Sandy has never met, in every 3-Day location, who have been surprised by a baggie of pink ribbons in their camp mail. “I just pick and send. Because honestly, what am I going to do with all those ribbons?”sandy's ribbons

Exactly what kind of numbers are we talking about here? I asked Sandy how much ribbon she starts with at the beginning of a new 3-Day year. “Gosh, I don’t know. Too much! My coffee table is still filled with it. I buy safety pins from Amazon. Normally it is just one box of 10 gross (1,440 pins). This year, I did 2 boxes, 2,880 pins, and I used them all. It’s a little crazy, a little obsessive.” All told, there are probably close to 10,000 “Sandy ribbons” out there, pinned to various bulletin boards, shirts, lanyards, hats and packs around the nation.

Sandy admits that she doesn’t really remember WHY she got so caught up in this pink ribbon frenzy. She doesn’t have a family history of breast cancer, but her decade-and-a-half involvement with the 3-Day and other breast cancer events has led to friendships and personal connections in every corner of the U.S. And she doesn’t show any signs of stopping her pinning mania. What started as a cute way to say thank you to donors has turned into something much bigger.

“I give ribbons out constantly because they start and continue the very important dialogue—self-exam, who am I walking for, how I got involved, what Komen does with funds raised, how you take care of your breast health. I will keep pinning! I have a few dozen yards of new ribbon patterns. I wear a new ‘Sandy Hat’ each year, made up of the current year’s ribbon patterns which are being doled out around the country.” And remember that in the midst of all of the pinning, Sandy is also diligently training and fundraising for the 3-Day (this year, she’ll be walking in San Diego, her 13th 3-Day). Across the many cancer events she has participated in since 1999, she has personally raised over $110,000.2015_3DAY_TCSat_EDB (43)

It has a ripple effect, a pay-it-forward kind of influence where it doesn’t stop with just one person. It starts with Sandy, but these ribbons have made it to walkers, cancer patients and survivors, and hundreds of friends whom she has never met. Sandy says, “It’s the gift that keeps giving!”

What advice does Sandy have for someone who is thinking about doing the 3-Day? “Attend a Get Started call or meeting and raise your hand and ask a question. Walk a training walk. Push yourself—whether it’s physically or from the fundraising perspective. You will never know your potential until you try. You will surprise yourself every step of the way, pun intended. Know that you never ever walk alone. I used to say that I would want someone like me fighting like hell if the tables were turned. I don’t have to be out there doing this, but I will continue to fight this fight.  And I’d want someone doing the same for me.”

Fundraising Challenge Throwback!

Today, we’re giving you the mother of all #TBT fundraising posts. We’ve scoured our archives for Fundraising Challenges that we’ve posted over the last year or so, and we’ve got some of the best of them here. You can also find Fundraising Challenges going all the way back to 2014 here.3DAY_2016_Social_Text_FundraisingChallenge_1

Remember Your Reasons – Use your fundraising requests as an opportunity to remind your donors exactly why we raise funds for Susan G. Komen®. Ask for a specific and meaningful amount (for example, you could ask for donations of $50, which could be used to help transport a patient to a treatment session or mammogram). Or simply share your story and remind people why you walk, and tell them that you’ll walk in honor or in memory of someone they love who’s been affected by breast cancer. For every donation you receive, tell them you’ll carry that person’s name with you, in tribute.

Let the Calendar Lead the Way – Your next fundraising idea could be as close as the calendar on your wall. Find inspiration from the date (if it’s 5/19, see if you can get 5 donations of $19), the year (can you reach your 2016 fundraising goal with donations of $20.16?) or even just the day of the week (make every Wednesday a “get me over the hump” day by asking donors to help you reach the next hundred-dollar level of your fundraising). Be creative about using unique days to grab your donors’ interest. For example, on 7/17 of last year, we issued this fundraising challenge: prime number fundraising challenge

Yay, America! – On Patriotic Holidays (Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4th, Election Day, etc.), ask your friends to make donations today in honor of their patriotic pride. How about $50, one dollar for every amazing American state?

Countdown! – A countdown is a great fundraising gimmick. You can ask for donations in the amount of how many days are left until you walk (you can find how many days you have left on the Home page of your Participant Center), or count down to some other important date, such as a birthday or a cancer-versary.

Anytime Ideas! – Some ideas are great no matter what time of year it is. Here’s one: set a timer for 30 minutes and see if you can get $100 in donations! Post the challenge on Facebook, blast an email out to everyone in your workplace, heck, you can even dig the change out of your car seats and couch cushions. Race against the clock and get to the goal! Or you can find more ideas or inspiration at any time of day or night by visiting the Fundraising Tools page of your Participant Center at or search for fundraising posts on the 3-Day blog.

Social Media Strategies – Most fundraising strategies can incorporate social media in some form, but sometimes you can use social media as the starting point. Start a tagging trend: tag three friends in a Facebook or Twitter post, and ask them each to donate $10 AND tag three of their own friends. Be sure to share your reasons for walking and don’t forget to share the link to your personal 3-Day fundraising page.

The 3-Day Spirit – Your participation in the boldest breast cancer event in history can inspire your donors to give. On your next training walk, see how long it takes you to walk a mile (for most folks, it’s about 20 minutes), then ask friends and family to make donations in that amount. Amp up the challenge by seeing if you can get 60 people to make those donations, one for each mile you’ll walk. You could also tell your donors that 3-Day walkers hit the pavement in rain or shine, and in the spirit of this all-weather attitude, ask your Facebook friends to make donations to you today in the amount of the high temperature wherever they are.

Use These Graphics! – From time to time, we’ve shared some snazzy fundraising graphics on social media, and you are absolutely welcome and encouraged to share them with your networks too!

1907501_10155701091610392_720080457638824751_n Get your friends, family and neighbors involved with bottling up spare change. Try it this weekend and let us know on Monday how you did!

11846640_10155885576165392_5183736746814051619_n Does your community have any big events coming up? If there’s a parade, festival or concert that will draw a lot of people, see if you can rent a port-a-potty (a pink one, if possible!) to set up at the event site. You can sell “special access” wristbands which will allow guests to tend to their…ahem…”business” without the typical lines or “yuck” factor that comes with more heavily trafficked commodes.

11959996_10155939915235392_7479659791687598527_n Set yourself and some friends up at a busy intersection in your community with pink boots, and when cars stop for red lights, go around and collect donations at the drivers’ windows.

12410531_10156383627895392_2323073747418903725_n This challenge could be one small step toward reaching your fundraising goal!

Introducing #WeAreThe3Day

One of the most inspiring and heartwarming aspects of the 3-Day community is that each walker, crew member and supporter has a story. The reasons they walk, the connections they have made, the experiences that the 3-Day has given them—all of these small pieces make the 3-Day family a beautiful patchwork of unforgettable celebrations.

As beautiful as the full 3-Day “quilt” is, there is also so much to be gained by taking a closer look at the individual squares that make it up.

This is where #WeAreThe3Day comes in.


This hashtag is a way for us to share stories and remember the things that join us together while celebrating the things that make us unique.

We are the 3-Day, and we want to hear from you!

When we gather and share a little corner of the world for 3 days at a time, we get to know each other as much and as well as we can. Our goal is to share some of your stories with our whole online 3-Day family. But it’s impossible for us to meet and share with everyone. That’s where you come in.

Send us a little piece of you.

Tell us something about you and your connection with breast cancer and the 3-Day.

Something that stands out, that makes you you.

Something about you that a fellow 3-Dayer might see out on event and ask, “What’s the story there?”

Or, something that wouldn’t be obvious at all from the outside, but can only be learned by talking to you.

Send an email to with “#WeAreThe3Day” in the subject line. Attach one or two hi-res photos from a 3-Day event, and share something about yourself or your team.

If you need a little inspiration, take a look at some of the #WeAreThe3Day posts we’ve already shared.

We’ll be posting your stories with #WeAreThe3Day on Facebook, Twitter and here on the blog in the months to come.