Please join us in congratulating our 2017 Milestone Award Winner; Jim Hillmann. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Milestone Award is given at each event to a walker or crew member who has an outstanding history of participation in the Komen 3-Day. At the Michigan 3-Day camp show, we presented Jim Hillmann with this special honor.
We talked to some of Jim’s teammates about what a special guy he is – and here’s what they had to say. “Jim, also known as Lime with the Coconuts, is the embodiment of the 3 day. His journey with this walk began in 2008 to honor his mom.. She lost her 8 year battle with breast cancer in 2004. He has vowed to make the 3-Day a part of his life until he can walk in celebration that is a cure. He never meets a stranger, and he is genuinely interested in everyone’s story. He has a way of absorbing every story he is given and making it a part of his journey. He has thousands of stories of thousands of walkers who have walked alongside him and told their story to him–he listens, absorbs, and shares them, lending weight and validity to each and every one. If you’ve ever walked alongside our Lime, you’ve heard about Zoie and others. The walkers of the 3 Day are truly a part of his extended family. He builds us up, makes us feel better, and gathers us in and brings us along when we feel as if we cannot take another step. He is our adopted brother, father, uncle, friend.”
Now let’s hear a little bit about Jim’s story from his perspective. We asked him these questions, but he had no idea he would be selected as our winner!
What was your inspiration in joining the 3-Day, Jim?
My mother, who died from breast cancer in 2004 after an eight year battle. It was her second time with breast cancer that took her life.
What has brought you back to the 3-Day year after year?
During my first walk in 2008 in San Francisco, I quickly realized that the 3-Day community was very special and I knew I had found a place where I could make a difference in people’s lives, specifically to those affected by breast cancer. Over the next several years, my passion and desire continued to grow as I met more in the community, sharing my story with them and hearing theirs. These conversations along the routes, in camp and throughout the year, deeply touched my heart, further fueling my passion to help. It was in 2011, however, when I fully realized the depth, strength and love of the 3-Day community to help others. During that year, I met a nine year old girl on Belmont Hill who lost her mother to breast cancer the prior year. Based on a photo I took of the girl and the reaction by the community when I posted it, my life was forever changed. The community reached out to the girl, and her two sisters, and provided them with love and support in so many ways. The depth to which they supported her, and continue to do so, is something I will never forget. It is these experiences that bring me back each year, with the hope that one day it will no longer be necessary as we have a cure. On that day, we can rest.
What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success?
To walk in all 14 events in 2011, I needed to raise over $32,000, a number I could not comprehend when I began. I quickly realized, the money would not come from simply asking relatives and friends but would have to come from other sources. At that time I decided that the best method to raise additional funds was to pick passions that I had and figure out how to make money from them. For example, I love photography, so I did photo shoots. Along with my son, we loved to geocache, so my daughter, a graphic designer, designed a geocache coin and pin. I also made the effort to create one new fundraiser a year, hopefully one that would create new streams of contributors. Finally, I knew that there would be “great” ideas that failed miserably and “silly” ideas that would excel. The bottom line, “Never be discouraged by a fundraiser that fails, but learn from it and create something even better next time.”
A teammate said about Jim’s fundraising, ” Jim does not have a fundraising “season” as most of us do. His fundraising level has hit epic and above–he collects cans, he makes coins and pins, he plays bunco, he attends baseball games–his list of ideas is endless, and he is happy to share them with those of us who are not natural to the fundraising world. He is our Lime, and we are his Coconuts.”
What is your best advice to anyone walking the 3-Day?
Never doubt the positive impact your are making in the lives of those affected by this relentless disease. Each dollar raised and step that is taken, puts us closer to a cure, so never give up on what we are trying to accomplish – to end breast cancer. A survivor in Dallas 2012, who I met while she was cheering us on, told me something that I love to tell others when they ask about walking. When I thanked the survivor for her support. She told me, “You cannot fully understand how much your walking (meaning all of us) means to myself and other survivors. Your walking gives us hope. Thank you.”
What’s a fun fact about you?
Our family was blessed to be able to work overseas for our company for a total of nine years, providing us with the opportunity to not just visit other cultures but to live and be a part of those cultures, providing us with new perspectives on other countries and on our own.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day?
1. A community focused on one goal can accomplish the impossible.
2. Never doubt the impact one person can make in the lives of others.
3. A goal worth achieving is one worth giving one’s all for.
Jim, we’re confident that you’ve achieved your goal of being an unstoppable force in the fight to end breast cancer. On behalf of all of us walking, crewing, and supporting the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, thank you.