We’ve turned the corner on the 2016 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season, with the conclusion of the fourth event of the year. And as we find ourselves heading back down the hill with our last 3 events of the 2016 season, we reflect on the incredible weekend we had on the Atlanta 3-Day.
The 2016 Atlanta 3-Day kicked off early Friday morning with an emotional Opening Ceremony set against the picturesque backdrop of Stone Mountain Park. Amber Livingston from Susan G. Komen® was joined on stage by Dr. Sheri Prentiss, and the two inspirational hosts motivated the crowd of eager walkers. We also heard personal testimonials from six of our incredible Atlanta participants who shared their own inspirations, for walking and crewing, making us smile, cry and reflect on the one singular goal we all share. Energized by the bravery of the beautiful Survivor’s Circle, the walkers set out, determined to face the 60-mile road ahead. The first few miles were spent migrating through Stone Mountain Park before reaching pit stop 1 and the Pirates of the CariBOOBean. Next, the walkers exited the park and walked through Stone Mountain Village to the first grab & go. Atlanta is home to an extensive network of off-road trails for pedestrians and cyclists called the PATH, and out of grab & go A in Stone Mountain, walkers took one of the PATH trails into Clarkston, through a heart-meltingly adorable preschool cheering station, and into pit stop 2. From there, it was back onto the trails and onward to the lunch stop, a “Boob-kini Beach” party in Avondale Estates. After lunch, walkers continued into quaint downtown Decatur, where they were greeted by another cheering station before hitting the second Grab & Go. After that, the route made its way into Atlanta city limits. The spooky-sweet Halloween-themed pit stop 3 and “Mardi Bras” of pit stop 4 helped power the walkers through the end of Day 1—even during a brief rain shower—and into camp at the Georgia World Congress Center.
Friday night in camp, after some outstanding live entertainment, Dr. Sheri joined Amber on stage again to thank the 3-Day’s sponsors (Bank of America and Mohawk Flooring) and introduce friends from the Komen Greater Atlanta affiliate. We played our own 3-Day version of a “Who Wore It Best” relay race, and the comical game was followed by a stirring speech from breast cancer survivor Grendel, and the always-inspiring Youth Corps speeches.
The sun was out and shining brightly on the 3-Dayers for Day 2, which was spent entirely inside Atlanta city limits, allowing walkers to see many corners of this vibrant city. From camp, walkers headed north toward Midtown and up into Lindbergh, with the first two pit stops and a packed cheering station all within the first 7 miles. Pit stop 3 was set up at the home of Komen Greater Atlanta’s offices, and the local Komen staff was out in force to rally walkers in and out of the stop with a marvelous cheering squad. After leaving pit stop 3, walkers moved through the beautiful residential area of Buckhead, then out to Paces Ferry Road and past the Governor’s mansion. Lunch and a grab & go were up next, and then the walkers moved onto the north Belt Line trail, a beautiful, shaded pathway.
The route moved back through downtown, past the art museum and into Midtown to Midtown Bank where pit stop 4 was set up. The bank employees even came out with tremendous spirit and some extra snacks and water to support. The final stretch on Day 2 brought walkers up close with some of downtown Atlanta’s most visited spots, including the World of Coca-Cola museum, Georgia Aquarium and Centennial Olympic Park, before leading them back into camp.
Saturday is Friends & Family Night at the 3-Day, and many walkers and crew members were joined by loved ones in camp. On stage, we welcomed Victoria Wolodzko, and Catherine Oliveri from Susan G. Komen headquarters who talked about Komen’s bold new goal—to decrease breast cancer deaths by 50% in the next 10 years. The 2016 3-Day has also been a season-long celebration of the 3-Day’s 150th walk (which was in Michigan in August), and with glasses of yummy sparkling grape juice raised, Amber led us in a toast, followed by surprise cupcakes for everyone. The camp show went on to recognize some Atlanta participants who reached milestones of their own, including top fundraisers and local award winners. And of course, the Saturday night dance party followed with typical flair.
On the morning of Day 3, the Atlanta walkers headed out from camp and onto the Georgia Tech campus. They moved back through Midtown to Piedmont Ave. and worked their way around the outside perimeter of Piedmont Park, ending up on the eastside Beltline Trail until they got to pit stop 2 and a Cheering Station at the beautiful Historic Fourth Ward Park. From there, walkers made their way east to the lunch stop then continued winding their way on and off the PATH trail, coming through Inman Park and up to pit stop 3 at the Historic Water Tower. With only a few miles to the finish, walkers trekked past the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., through downtown and past the state Capitol, and south to Turner Field, the site of the Atlanta 3-Day’s Closing Ceremony.
Surrounded by the cheers of family and friends gathered around them, the Atlanta 3-Day’s 600 walkers and 225 crew members marched victoriously into the Closing Ceremony arena. Amber and Dr. Sheri were our hosts once again, and they thanked the many wonderful supporters, sponsors and local jurisdictions that made the event possible. Soon after, we brought in the final group of Atlanta 3-Dayers, our breast cancer survivors, and together, we saluted their courage and strength, and celebrated the Atlanta 3-Day’s remarkable $1.7 million raised.
We at the 3-Day are truly humbled by the passion, dedication and spirit of every single person who touches this event. We can’t say thank you enough. To those of you who we’ll see again in one of the three remaining events this year, we look forward to it, and to the many of you who will make Atlanta your pink home for three days again next year, we can’t wait to see you again. In the meantime, we carry each of you in our hearts. Onward to Philadelphia!