Liz Goldman’s Fundraising Milestone: $250,000 Raised

“It wasn’t breast cancer that changed my life, it was the 3-Day.”

We are thrilled to induct another 3-Day participant into the Impact level of our Lifetime Commitment Circle. This exclusive honor is bestowed on those who have reached an incredible fundraising milestone—raising $250,000 for the 3-Day. Liz Goldman has been a part of the 3-Day family since 2004, and we are so inspired by her level of commitment. We asked Liz to answer a few questions so we could introduce you to this amazing woman.

How did you get involved with the 3-Day?
In 2003, when I was 41 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. After over a year of treatment, I signed up to do my first 3-Day in New York City. My aunt had crewed in Atlanta before and recommended I get involved. I signed up to walk and my husband signed up to be a crew member.

I met a woman on that walk who had a cancer similar to mine, and she was receiving Herceptin as part of her protocol. I came home and immediately called my oncologist. It was already on his radar, and I started Herceptin shortly thereafter. The research behind Herceptin was funded by Susan G. Komen. To this day, I am convinced (as is my oncologist) that Herceptin saved my life. The New York 3-Day was my first walk, but I knew it would not be my last.

We all know raising money during a global pandemic is not easy, but how did you do it?
To be honest, considering the pandemic, I wasn’t sure whether I should try fundraising at all this year. I didn’t want to be insensitive to people’s current problems and worries. But I realized—despite the existence of the COVID-19 scourge, women (and men) were still going to hear those life changing words: “you have cancer.”

So, a group of us from the NY/NJ area who had become friends through our perennial 3-Days decided to band together in defiance! We would do our “own 3-Day” this year. And with that I was off to the fundraising races once again. My dear friend, hero, inspiration, and 3-Day mentor Burt L. had hit the $250K mark earlier this year, and I was about $39K away from that milestone. Some say it is my competitive nature (lol); I say I was on a mission!

I expressed to my all of my donors that COVID-19 bedamned, I was still doing my 3-Day walk and that I was on a mission to reach a coveted goal: $250,000.

Liz and Burt

What is your secret to raising so much money every year?
I wish I had a secret to share, but I really don’t. I can only tell you that I have very generous family and friends that have donated to me year after year. They have made my cause their cause, and I am incredibly grateful. I share my story, I “walk the talk” and I ask everyone I know (and many I don’t) for a donation. Honestly, with the cause on my mind so often, fundraising for the 3-Day becomes second nature.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the huge boost I receive from everyone I know and love. Their cheerleading and encouragement give me strength and inspire me to carry on with my mission of living in a world without breast cancer. And my husband Win leads the way. He has been a crew member (a much harder job than walking 60 miles) every year that I have walked. Breast cancer was not just my diagnosis, but his as well. Every one of my 3-Day walks, and every dollar I have raised, would not have been possible without his support and love.

Liz and her husband Win

What keeps you coming back to the 3-Day again and again?
The answer to this question is easy but unfortunate: I will walk until I can’t, or until there is no need to, whichever comes first. There are too many women (and men) who still hear those words “you have breast cancer.” Their lives are turned upside down emotionally, mentally, and of course physically while going through difficult treatment. Sadly, too many still die, leaving behind loved ones way too early in life. I know that many have walked before me, and I benefited from their commitment and efforts. The funds they raised helped bring about early detection, and new treatments and protocols that give a better quality of life during treatment, resulting in extended and saved lives. I feel it is my obligation to pay it back and pay it forward.

What are some of your top 3-Day memories from past years?
There are so many! The beautiful cities I’ve walked in and the lasting friendships I have made over the years will always fill my heart. Those very cute San Diego police officers who dance in their very cute uniforms, the cheering stations, the food, the rest stops, the food, the decorations, the food—well, you get the idea.

Unfortunately there are bittersweet ones as well: a daughter walking because her mom just passed away, a husband walking because he just lost his wife, a newly married young woman who just had a bi-lateral mastectomy at the age of 28. I hold onto these tearful memories just as tightly as the joyous ones, to remind me that I cannot stop walking.

Liz on the San Diego 3-Day

Now that you’ve raised $250,000 what’s the next goal you’ve got your eyes on?
I just want to keep “walking the talk.” I am dedicated to training for the 3-Day, raising as much money as I can and spreading the word about breast cancer and Susan G. Komen.   

For my 20th survivorship celebration in two years, I would like to do all the 3-Day walks that year and have my son and daughter join me on one. They have always been my reasons for everything. My cancer diagnosis was aggressive and quite frankly the outcome was not looking so positive when I was initially diagnosed. I am so grateful to be alive and be part of their lives every day.

Liz, her son Jason, and her daughter Kara from Boston 2013, her 10-Year Celebration

How do you live the 3-Day spirit and spread the word all year long?
In the same spirit I mustered to do battle against this disease from a personal standpoint, I now do battle on a global basis, on behalf of all those women and men who deserve the same outcome I have enjoyed since being pronounced cancer-free.

Beginning with my first 3-Day, my thoughts about my cancer and my thoughts about the 3-Day have become more and more intertwined, to the point where when I share my story about breast cancer, the 3-Day is always, always a part of it.

I have always said, “It wasn’t breast cancer that changed my life, it was the 3-Day.”

Tell us what the 3-Day means to you.
I think of the 3-Day as the perfect combination of celebration, remembrance, and forward-looking determination.

It’s a celebration of the strides we’ve made and a joyous gathering of everyone who, by their very presence, is a part of the Komen family and, as such, my extended family.

The remembrance is the solemn bittersweetness we feel and think of when remembering and honoring all those lost to this disease.  

The forward-looking determination is the knowledge of how much good has come from what we have all contributed to the 3-Day, and the drive toward building on that foundation of progress, helping to create a brighter future for the world by eradicating breast cancer.

I am proud and honored to be a part of the 3-Day.

Thank you, Liz, for your many years of dedication to the 3-Day and our mission to end breast cancer. We’re honored to be such an important part of your life and are lucky to have you as part of our family. The incredible amount of money you’ve raised is working to save and extend the lives of thousands of women and men facing breast cancer.

Liz’s achievement will qualify her for the Impact level in the Lifetime Commitment Circle. She joins Loretta E., Kathy G., Bert S., and Burt L. as Impact members at the $250,000 level.

Fundraising Challenge Winner Lucy D.

As part of the 2021 San Diego Virtual Kick-Off, we held a fundraising challenge during the week leading up to the Kick-Off, November 16-20. The 3-Dayer who raised the most money during the challenge period won an amazing 3-Day branded prize—a Birdie Box with headphones, a water bottle and a Bluetooth speaker. The winner was Lucy D., who raised $4,881in just five days!

We wanted to know how she did it and pass her advice and experience on to other 3-Day participants. So, we asked her a few questions.

What is your history with the 3-Day?
I did my first walk in San Diego in 2005 and have done it every year since! I did two walks back-to-back in 2007, Tampa Bay and San Diego, and 2021 marks my 17th walk! I have raised more than $50,000 for my own 3-Day fundraising and way more than that if you count all the money I gave to team members to help them get to their goals!

Why do you walk?
I started out doing the walk as a fitness challenge. A co-worker had done the 3-Day a couple of times, and I was overweight and needed some motivation to exercise. So, I decided in 2004 that I would make it my goal to be able to do the 3-Day with my friend by the next year, 2005. After all the training, by the time the event came up, I had lost over 100 pounds! But after all that work, I didn’t want to stop. I had come to realize that breast cancer was everywhere! I signed up to walk again! That year, three of my co-workers’ lives were impacted by breast cancer, so I knew I needed to keep walking and keep fundraising and keep making a difference!

What is your connection to the cause?
Fortunately, no one in my family has been diagnosed with breast cancer, knock on wood! But over the years of doing the walks, breast cancer keeps rearing its ugly head in people I care about—friends, co-workers, plus all the wonderful survivors (teammates) I’ve met and walked with for so long! Big shout out to my Powered by Optimism team captain, Lisa Partner! I am more than connected to the cause by now—I am immersed and enveloped!

What techniques did you use to raise that much money in just five days?
Since 2010, my husband and I have been putting on a golf tournament as my big fundraiser. Since it usually is in September, very often I will have my minimum fundraising goal already met via my regular donors by that time and I am able to help support the fundraising efforts of my teammates with the proceeds of the tournament.

This year, even though we weren’t walking, I wanted to honor my commitment to raise at least $2,300 so we decided to go ahead and have the tournament, though it was delayed until November 14 and modified to conform to COVID regulations: no dinner, no silent auction, no congregating. We just had raffle prizes so I was thinking we wouldn’t do that well, but amazingly enough we had a huge response! I was able to get all that tabulated and logged in to my fundraising account just in time for the fundraising challenge!

What are your top three fundraising tips for other 3-Day participants?
My top three fundraising tips are:

  1. Keep asking your donors. I send out a note once a month starting in May.
  2. Don’t be afraid of doing a big fundraising event. It can really pay off!
  3. Engage teammates or walking partners, family members, friends, co-workers to help with ideas and execution of your fundraiser.

Thank you for sharing your fundraising tactics with us, Lucy! Your amazingly successful fundraising events are inspiring. Even in a pandemic—you are still making it happen.

Kick-Off Survivor Speaker Kayla V.

Our 2021 San Diego 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off started Saturday morning, November 21st, with an inspiring morning kick-off hosted simultaneously on Zoom and Facebook Live. The highlight was getting to hear Kayla’s moving survivor story. If you missed it, here is Kayla’s story, in her own words.

“I’ll count the joy come every battle ’cause I know that’s where you’ll be.”

I have found myself singing these words at the top of my lungs in the months of spring and summer as I tackled my job as an inpatient physical therapist amidst the COVID pandemic. Little did I know that these words would become even more of a source of support and hope as my life was flipped upside down in July.

On July 9, I found a lump while showering and had this awful feeling and sense of doom that it was something scary. I would not even let myself think of that dreaded “c word.” Fast forward through days spent with agonizing thoughts in the back of my mind, “What if it was cancer?” “What if I’m really sick?” After a weekend of hidden anxiety, I broke down and made an appointment, called my mom and cried, then reassured myself once again it would be nothing.

July 16 was my primary appointment, which lead to an ultrasound on July 20, which revealed a cyst-like growth. After an attempted aspiration, a biopsy was completed, and my panic and anxiety once again set in. A trip home to the farm for vacation with my family was met with smiles from my unknowing nieces and nephews but tears behind closed doors with my siblings and parents.

On July 23 my world came crashing down as my phone rang in an empty house, all alone. I quietly wrote down the word cancer on a post-it note as tears streamed down my face and the nurse on the other end of the phone tried to remain composed and give me the details. The days ahead were marked with appointments with my colleagues, who now became my oncologists and surgeon. In the days ahead, I quickly learned a patient’s perspective in the hospital as I got my port placed and started chemo.

Everyone knows that fighting cancer is hard, but having to do so during a pandemic just adds another layer of worry and stress. Many aspects of life that would normally stay intact during a cancer fight, have been stripped away. Since my job is direct patient care, where I spent 30 minutes to an hour with patients working on improving mobility, I knew instantly that once I received my diagnosis, my time at work was done.

My doctors tried to tread lightly to inform me that I could no longer work, given my soon-to-be compromised immune system and the close proximity I have with patients and the amount of time I spend with them. In other words, COVID was rearing its ugly head once again to turn my world upside down in ways I never could imagine.

When I received my diagnosis, I was thankfully out on a planned vacation, but little did I know this vacation would turn into almost a year leave of absence. During these last few months, I have found myself constantly second guessing if I should be gathering with my closest friends or family to find support, something I never would have had to worry about before COVID. I have had to leave my family at the doors as I took my first walk into chemo, alone.

The thing about cancer is that it does not discriminate. It can pick any time, person, or place. This means that now, more than ever before, breast cancer awareness and fundraising for research is needed. We need to continue to fight for our pink sisters, even amongst a global pandemic.

Since my diagnosis, I have tackled 10 rounds of chemo, with 6 more to go. My infusion team has become like a family, and I enjoy catching up with them weekly to hear the latest about their kids and that new recipe they were going to try. My journey continues as I have recently ventured down to Mayo Clinic to make surgery, plastic surgery, and radiation plans; all just another step in the journey.

This road has been a long one, with plenty of road left to travel. I still have my hard days, but the good days outnumber the bad. I have had an amazing and wide team of supporters who have cheered me on every step of the way.

One of my close friends from college, Anna, lost her mom to stage 4 breast cancer in 2014. Anna, her sisters, and her mom were avid participators in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, so when Anna learned of my diagnosis, she jumped into action and created a 3-Day team. My team has grown quickly to include my closest friends and family, so I joined to tackle 60 miles with my cheer squad. Walking 60 miles will be hard, but its not as hard as fighting cancer.

Reliving these memories and my story can be hard and painful at times, but I know there is beauty within them and a story that needs to be told. If my story can help anyone… or urge someone to complete their own self breast exam or schedule their mammogram, then my story is worth sharing a million times.

Welcome to the 3-Day family, Kayla. We’re looking forward to seeing you in San Diego in 2021!