Kindness. Generosity. Compassion.
These feelings are commonly associated with love-centric holidays like Valentine’s Day, but are also how Lauri Yanis, veteran 3-Day walker and crew member, describes the 60-mile adventure that is her 3-Day journey.
Lauri has been walking and supporting the 3-Day for almost two decades, and is firmly entrenched in its community. Luckily, she has had someone very important by her side for every step: her husband Matt, whom she met on her first 3-Day walk.
Finding a love connection on the 3-Day has led Lauri and Matt to a relationship based on the principles of “Communication. Honesty. A willingness to ask for help, and a willingness to offer help.” It’s also kept them walking and crewing at least one 3-Day every year since they met. Lauri still remembers the moment of their first meeting on “Day Zero,” as the Thursday before the 3-Day was called before walkers were able to check in online.
“My (random) tent-mate and I agreed to meet on Day Zero, and then it was a last minute decision that we would stay overnight together in a hotel before Opening Ceremony. To get assigned to a tent together, we had to be there at the same time and go up in line together. And when we finished, we got on the very last bus to our hotel. This is important because I am never last! I am always early, but they were shutting things down, we had been there for hours and we got on the last bus. And this is where it’s so funny how fate and karma work.
This guy gets on the bus after us, even later than us, and he made a snide comment. And that’s him! That’s the man I’m going to marry! He was a wise ass. He was sarcastic. […] But, I said “Hi” to him, and the rest is history!”
Lauri and Matt ended up having dinner together that first night, and shared their reasons for walking the 3-Day. Lauri was walking for a dear friend who at that time was battling breast cancer. Matt, on the other hand, did not have anyone in his life who was directly suffering from the disease.
Lauri explains, “He said ‘I’m walking for my mom, and my daughter, and my grandmother, and I’m even walking for my ex-wife.’ And I thought that was just great!”
The two walked much of the sixty miles together, and a few weeks after the walk, Matt came to visit Lauri for the first time. From there, they united their two families, and years later made it official with a wedding and a “honeymoon” spent on the 3-Day.
“In 2006, we walked two weeks after our wedding so we wore hats that said ‘Newlyweds for the Cure’ and tied little plastic champagne bottles to the back of our tent. We joked that more people should honeymoon with hundreds of their closest family and friends!”
Though Lauri and Matt have never personally met any other couples who have met on the 3-Day, Lauri has heard stories of them, and says she’s not surprised that love could bloom on the walk. It has, after all, helped shape her and Matt’s love story.
“It’s really central to our relationship. We have lived inside the “Pink Bubble,” and you spend 3 days being your very best self. People are just decent and kind, and inspired to be their best self for those three days. Because we’ve done that together so many times, we can bring each other back to that spirit. It’s truly shaped who we are.”
Since their meeting, Lauri and Matt have recruited multiple family members to the 3-Day, and say that’s no longer a matter of “if” they will participate each year, but rather what cities they will be participating in. This year, keep an eye out for them walking in San Diego and crewing in Philadelphia.
“It’s such a great event, and any difference I can make for people facing the disease is a big part of it for me. I believe in the research being done by (Susan G.) Komen. I think that what Komen offers to families who don’t have good support, or who are lower income, or who don’t live near treatment centers, that is very important,” Lauri explains. “There is this body of caring people who really want to make a difference. So you see that body, and you want to be a part of it, and it keeps swirling and growing.”
Lauri and Matt are doing what they can to keep the community growing each year. This includes continuing to walk and crew together, doing their fundraising as a couple, and even going on walking “dates” whenever they can.
As for their plans for Valentine’s Day 2017, Lauri says she is lucky enough to have every day feel like Valentine’s Day.
“We’re sappy like that so we don’t have any special plans,” she laughs. “We do a romantic date every week. I got lucky.”
Lucky in love on the 3-Day, indeed!