Please join us in congratulating our 2018 Seattle Milestone Award Winner; Nancy Schulman! 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 Seattle 3-Day camp show, we presented Nancy with this special honor.
We learned just how much the 3-Day means to Nancy when we spoke directly to her…
What was your inspiration to do your first 3-Day?
My sister, Susan, invited me to walk the 3-day with her in 2006. She had walked for the first time the previous year and had described the experience as ‘the world as she wished it could be every day’ – full of kindness, compassion and everyone looking out for each other. That really resonated. I had recently lost a close friend to this disease. Gail was 30 when diagnosed (her newborn wouldn’t nurse on the breast that had cancer). She had no family history of this disease and was 43 years young when she died.
So when my sister asked me to join her, I was motivated to walk in memory of my friend Gail, and in gratitude of my own health as my 50th birthday approached. From that very first year, my sisters, Ellie and Joni, along with my husband, Joel, and son, Logan, were incredible Walker Stalkers along the route – encouraging and cheering on the sea of pink. Other family members join in each year when they can. Team White Butterflies had begun.
What has brought you back year after year?
Seattle will be my 13th walk. Many things have kept me coming back to the pink bubble for the past 12 years, including: the caring community of walkers, crew, safety, medical, and staff – all working together to end breast cancers’ devastation; my son, who at the age of 6 challenged me to keep walking until he was old enough to walk with me (I did and 2018 will mark his third year as a walker); the diagnoses a few years ago of a cherished childhood friend and, last year, my beloved sister-in- law; the 4th/5th grade Junior White Butterflies our team has inspired; the butterfly wings that I wear at every walk, made by my sister Ellie, that carry the names of my donors and their loved ones; the firsthand knowledge that the money I help raise is making a difference – and the opportunity to see my fantastic husband in a pink wig and tutu!
What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success?
I don’t have any secrets to fundraising – I just ask. I ask anyone and everyone. And then I ask again. But that’s now – my first year I was incredibly intimidated by the idea of asking people for money. But to my surprise, I was able to raise more than the minimum.
My donors wanted to support finding a cure and shared stories about their families, friends or coworkers affected by breast cancer. So, the next year, I felt bolder and my reach widened. And, now I am admittedly greedy for this cause. It’s not personal if someone doesn’t make a donation. I also accept words of encouragement and a wave if they see me training around town. But if you don’t ask, it will always be a no.
While I have been known to stand outside a grocery with a donation box, and post fliers around town, I do most of my fundraising by email. After my initial letter, usually in late spring, I send out short training updates about once a month, a little more frequently as the date approaches. The updates are key because with each one, my donations spike. We all need reminders. And, I follow up with genuinely grateful thank yous. After the event, I send out a final thank you and recap.
I also wear my 3-Day shirts often and wear my White Butterflies team pin daily. If anyone comments on my pin or my shirt, they are rewarded with a smile and one of my 3Day business cards. By the way, the pins will be sold in Seattle for $10 along with cool knitted nipple hats made by a close friend. See, I told you I was greedy!
What is your best advice to anyone walking the 3-Day?
My best advice is to make the effort to meet and talk to your fellow 3-Dayers. Listen to their stories. Share yours. Laugh, cry, sing, dance. Have fun. It’s not a race, so enjoy the journey. It’s a journey of hope and inspiration through some pretty incredible cityscapes. You will make amazing friends along the way that I guarantee you will take with you when the 3-Day is over. Oh yeah, also train beforehand and stretch often on route. I change socks and underwear at lunch. (Doesn’t last long, but you sure feel refreshed!)
What is a fun fact about you?
I love to read, listen to audiobooks and narrated books on tape to the blind for over a decade. I love it!
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day?
A single step will bring you closer to your goal, so keep moving forward with perseverance and determination. You can’t always tell when your actions, kind word or helping hand will inspire or change a life. So be there – show up – and spread kindness. I can’t change the pain of those words, “You have breast cancer,” but I know I am helping to make detection more accessible and treatment more tolerable and successful by raising money for, and walking in, the Susan G Komen 3-Day. That is why I can’t walk away.