Folks who have walked in the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day before know that Mother Nature has not always been at her kindest during the Philadelphia event weekends. But for the 2016 Philly 3-Day, she decided to play extra nice and treat the 750 walkers and 275 crew members to a superbly beautiful weekend in the City of Brotherly Love. There was not a poncho to be seen when the 3-Dayers arrived on Friday morning to Opening Ceremony at Willow Grove Park Mall, and the pleasant weather was only the tip of the iceberg for the memorable three days ahead.
Amber Livingston from Susan G. Komen® welcomed everyone to the Opening Ceremony on Friday morning, and she was soon joined on stage by six Philadelphia 3-Day participants who shared their personal statements about why they are part of the 3-Day. The 3-Day’s own beloved Dr. Sheri Prentiss also joined the Opening Ceremony, and all of these inspirational hosts pumped up the walkers and reminded us all of our shared goal: ending breast cancer forever. The inspiration level was raised even higher when we looked at the nine beautiful women who made up our Survivors’ Circle, and their bravery was the last little burst of invigoration that the walkers needed to set out onto the 60-mile road ahead.
The walkers trekked through Willow Grove to reach their first pit stop at Ardsley Park in Glenside. The route continued to pass through lovely residential neighborhoods, including a pass down the legendary “Bra Street” cheering station, before reaching pit stop 2 in Oreland. Along the way, walkers also met street after street of schoolchildren—from kindergartners on up through high schoolers—who took breaks from their Friday classes to cheer for the passing walkers. A Grab & Go in Glenside and a cheering station on Germantown Ave. fueled walkers in to the lunch stop on the beautiful grounds of New Covenant Church. Walkers quickly noticed that on Friday, the entire Philadelphia 3-Day crew—from pit stops to sweep vans—was united with a common Dr. Suess theme, making it a delightful trend throughout the day.
After lunch, the route moved along the shady Wissahickon Trail and to Grab & Go B at the Historic Rittenhouse Town before turning along the Schuylkill River and past Boathouse Row on approach to pit stop 4 right before the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Around the front side of the museum, most walkers took advantage of the amazing photo op, and were delighted to see Rocky Balboa himself (well, a convincing impersonator, anyway), happy to take pictures at the top of the steps that his movie made famous decades ago. Cue “Eye of the Tiger!”
The final stretch of Friday’s route brought walkers downtown to camp at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The camp show on Friday brought back the hosts from the morning’s Opening Ceremony, Dr. Sheri and Amber, as well as a special appearance by President and CEO of Susan G. Komen, Dr. Judy Salerno, who thanked the 3-Day community for being such an integral part of Komen’s mission. We also heard from Elaine Grobman, CEO of Komen Philadelphia, and Komen grantee Dr. Susan Domchek, whose work is made possible thanks in part to funds raised by the 3-Day. Philadelphia walker and survivor Marianne gave an heartfelt speech about the 3-Day’s power in her life, and finally, the Philadelphia 3-Day Youth Corps took the stage to tell us their reasons for becoming part of the 3-Day.
On Saturday morning, walkers set out onto a route that was completely different from where Day 2 has taken them the last few years (though it did include some well-loved elements from Philly 3-Day events of the past). Within the first few miles, walkers were delighted with a surprise portion of the route that took them through the Philadelphia Zoo. Dozens of animals were out enjoying their breakfast and “posing” for pictures with hundreds of walkers. From there, they passed by Memorial Hall and made their way up to a Grab & Go on Belmont Plateau with stunning views of the Philadelphia skyline. From there, they cut over onto Bala Cynwyd trail (the Heritage Trail) and found pit stop 2 ready to fuel them up and keep them going. After that, it was back across the Schuykill River on the new Manayunk Footbridge and headed toward lunch (after one teensy tiny little hill…at least is wasn’t The Wall!). Coming down from lunch, walkers strolled down Main Street in Manayunk, passed dozens of shops and restaurants, and one very Sinatra-esque serenader. After that, it was a short walk on Kelly Dr., then a cross over the Falls Bridge, then a riverside walk along Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive back into downtown. A Philadelphia walk would not be complete without a photo op at the LOVE statue (even in its new home in Dilworth Park).
Back at camp, Friends & Family Night got into full swing as many Philadelphia walkers and crew members were joined by loved ones. The camp show began with a new face on stage; Lori Maris, who is Komen’s VP, Affiliate Network and a 3-Day walker herself, shared some heartfelt thoughts about the power of the 3-Day community. The 3-Day celebrated its 150th walk in Michigan earlier this year, and we’ve been reveling in the 3-Day’s big milestone all season long. So 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 acknowledge some Philadelphia 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 (and always kind of surprising after 40+ miles of walking) energy.
Day 3 in Philadelphia is a bit of a walk through history. Walkers left camp at the convention center pointed east, and soon were headed down Elfreth’s Alley, notable as being the oldest continuously inhabited street in America. From there, they put one foot in front of the other over cobbled streets until they got to the People’s Plaza, home of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell (and a special addition just for the 3-Day: dozens of local cheerleaders offering encouragement and yummy donut holes). Eventually leading out of downtown, walkers crossed back over the Schuykill River again to come to pit stop 1 at the 30th Street train station patio (known as The Porch, complete with relaxing swings and chairs). From there, walkers continued heading west until they reached the University of Pennsylvania campus. Next up was a walk back over the Schuykill River and into pit stop 2 at Schuykill River Park, approximately the halfway point of Day 3’s route. Another cross to the east side of Broad Street brought walkers to another Grab & Go and another cheering station before leading them onto 9th Street and through the Italian Market, which is the country’s oldest open-air street market. A short distance later, walkers went right past the intersection where two landmark rival Philly cheesesteak purveyors, Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks face off. Just a couple short miles after that at the lunch stop at Marconi Plaza, walkers were greeted by Dr. Sheri, and Amber, Lori and Judy from Komen, who handed them “More Than Pink” superhero capes to wear for the final few miles. One last pit stop at FDR Park offered walkers another couple of beautiful photo ops before delivering them to the Navy Yard (where the United States Navy was founded and several decommissioned ships still are docked), the site of Closing Ceremony.
The Philadelphia 3-Day Closing Ceremony was once again hosted by Dr. Sheri and Amber, who got the hundreds of gathered friends and family members pumped up as the walkers, crew members and survivors marched in to the arena. We thanked our many wonderful supporters, sponsors and local jurisdictions, and we shared an especially joyful moment when Amber announced that an amazing $2.1 million was raised by Philadelphia’s 750 walkers and 275 crew members. The Philadelphia 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.