The start of a new Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season is always exhilarating, and this year’s kick-off was no exception. The 2016 Michigan 3-Day’s determined walkers gathered to face the challenge of walking 60 miles in 3 days toward a world free from breast cancer. This Michigan event was especially exciting because it also marked the 150th Komen 3-Day walk. A milestone like that can’t go uncelebrated, and so walkers and crew members who gathered at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi early on Friday morning and were treated not only to a beautiful pink sunrise before the Opening Ceremony, but also some special swag that Komen rolled out to mark this memorable 150th event year. The rest of you upcoming 3-Dayers, don’t worry; we’ll be celebrating this huge 150 occasion at every 2016 3-Day walk.
At the Opening Ceremony, participants recognized some familiar elements (Promise Ribbons, ceremony participants, Survivor’s Circle) as well as some brand new parts to the ceremony celebration, which we look forward to sharing with our walkers and crew members in each 3-Day city. Chrissy Mathews from Susan G. Komen® and Dr. Sheri Prentiss, back for another year as national spokesperson, encouraged and inspired the walkers from the stage, then the route was opened and the Michigan 3-Day walk began!
This year’s Michigan walk included a brand new Day 1, so even participants who have been with the Michigan 3-Day since its beginning were treated to a refreshed route and new stops. The walkers journeyed through Novi and were rallied on by the always entertaining Boo-bees at pit stop 1. From there, it was north to Walled Lake, where everyone was grateful for the beautiful waterfront views at the Grab & Go, the friendly residents who came out and cheered, and any hint of cool breeze coming off the water (have we mentioned it was really hot and humid on Friday?). A little farther up the route, Pit 2’s crew, who was “demolishing breast cancer,” kept the walkers nourished and safe, and before long, the walkers arrived at the lunch stop where they were welcomed by the Walled Lake cheerleaders (varsity teams from two local high schools) and an updated menu. Yum! The second half of Day 1 took walkers through more of Novi’s residential areas before returning to Suburban Collection Showplace, which was also the site of the 3-Day camp.
To give everyone a little burst of nostalgia as we celebrated our 150th walk, we created a 3-Day Museum in camp where people could walk around and view some “artifacts” from the past 3-Day events in Michigan. This will be a “living” museum that will be a little different in each 3-Day location this year, showcasing unique memorabilia from each event. On Friday night, we gathered in the dining tent for the camp show. We heard an uplifting speech from Cindy, a long-time 3-Day walker and survivor, and we were fascinated by the Komen grantee who talked about his company’s innovative no-compression mammography (which he termed, “the boob spa”). The Michigan 3-Day Youth Corps also joined us from the stage, sharing their inspiring reasons for participating.
Day 2 started out beautiful and, thankfully, a bit cooler as the route headed out from camp. 3-Dayers who walked in Michigan last year may have noticed that Saturday’s route was mostly the same as 2015, except reversed. Firefighters from the Novi Fire Department’s Station 3 came out early to cheer the walkers starting out, which is always a great motivation. After that it was onto a portion of Hines Drive into the lovely city of Plymouth. Walkers enjoyed a cool break at the Lunch Oasis, and from there, it was just a few blocks to the Kellogg Park cheering station, which was in full swing with its welcome signs, photo backdrops, and the famous pink fountain. Down the road a bit, pit stop 3 had snacks, shade and imaginary gold medals for all of the “Olym-pink” 3-Day champions. After Plymouth, walkers headed back up into Northville, where the Buy Michigan festival was also happening in the quaint downtown area. At pit stop 4, walkers refreshed before heading into the Survivor Stretch, the last section of the route before camp, where walkers are encouraged to reflect on the journey that breast cancer survivors have gone through and celebrate their strength and courage. Supporters from Komen Detroit and Komen Michigan had a big cheering station along this stretch, giving the walkers that last little burst of inspiration to fuel them back to camp.
During Saturday’s camp show, Victoria Wolodzko, Susan G. Komen’s Vice President of Research and Community Health Program Operations (in other words, Head of Mission) was on stage to praise the great things that have already been done with the funds raised by the 3-Day, and to encourage everyone to keep walking, since there is still work to be done. The Saturday camp show was also where we recognized the Michigan 3-Day walkers and crew members who led the pack in fundraising, and we presented the Milestone and Local Impact Awards (read up on all the Michigan 3-Day award winners here). The atmosphere was full of joy as the Michigan 3-Day family was treated to a big group toast, delicious cupcakes, and brand new “bubbs” for the 150th walk celebration. Cheers!
On Sunday morning, walkers climbed onto waiting buses that took them to a drop-off location in Livonia, and within a couple of miles, they came upon block after block of local cheer teams forming a tunnel of spirit. The route moved through Livonia, including its historic downtown district, and from there, they ventured southeast into Dearborn. The residents of York Street pulled out all the stops again this year with their festive cheering station.
Walkers were treated to another surprise at the lunch stop, where every walker was given their very own pink Hero cape to wear for the rest of the day. Feeling extra super, walkers took in the sights of Historic Dearborn before hitting the final stretch up to Ford Headquarters, the site of the Closing Ceremony.
The victory march into the Closing Ceremony arena is always an emotional experience, and Michigan’s walk was no exception. Chrissy and Dr. Sheri joined us again from the stage and announced to the 600 walkers, 300 crew members and all the gathered friends and families that the 2016 Michigan 3-Day raised another $1.6 million dollars toward the fight against breast cancer. Our circle of survivors stood at the center, a beautiful reminder of the power of the 3-Day family, and we raised the final flag to close the 2016 Michigan 3-Day.