The Susan G. Komen 3-Day is a special experience that impacts us all in different ways, but it is definitely one that sticks with you. Participant Lindsey B. has personally raised more than $112,000 for Susan G. Komen, and hopes to enlighten her children about how special and important the 3-Day is, just as it is for her.
How did you get involved in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day?
I first heard about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in 2004. I literally heard a commercial on the radio. My Aunt Joan had recently been diagnosed for a second time with breast cancer. I heard the commercial and decided that I was going to sign up as a solo walker for the Kansas City event. I found out that some of my mom’s friends had signed up so I ended up joining their team. My Aunt Joan came to the Closing Ceremony that year and it was so emotional. It means the world to me that I get to walk in celebration and honor of my Aunt Joan. After my first walk in 2005, my mom decided to walk with me and has continued to walk with our team ever since. I am beyond grateful that I get to walk with my mom rather than having to walk in memory or honor of her. I signed up thinking I would do this walk once, but man, I was wrong. Those three days changed my life and I knew that I would continue to participate in this event until the cures for breast cancer are found.
In 2006 my sweet grandma Caryl was diagnosed with breast cancer and she passed away March 29, 2007, just three months before my wedding. I did not walk in 2007 because I got married, she passed away, and the 3-Day did not have an event in Kansas City that year. I knew that I would be back in 2008. I have walked every year since 2008 (twice in 2009, but of course, not last year due to Covid). I have even walked while nursing/pumping three times and walked pregnant twice (one time I walked while 6 months pregnant and I walked all 60 miles that year)!
After joining the 3-Day family, I got very involved with our local Kansas City Komen affiliate. I chaired the Pink Promise Brunch twice, chaired the silent auction for the brunch twice, became a Komen Ambassador, participated in community events for Komen, volunteered with Race for the Cure, etc. Back when the 3-Day used to do over-the-phone clinics (Event 101 & Training), I volunteered as a veteran walker to give the clinic talks, as well as answer walkers’ questions. I love every aspect of the 3-Day and am so thankful that I heard that radio commercial that prompted me to sign up as a walker. When I see a person wearing a 3-Day shirt or hat, I always talk to them! The 3-Day family is absolutely amazing, and I LOVE talking to people who have participated in this event.
How do you come up with such unique ways to fundraise?
When I first started fundraising, it was mostly emails (this was before Facebook was used as a fundraising tool). Initially I was somewhat hesitant to ask for donations, but overtime, this went away. I find that if I talk about the 3-Day, people are inclined to say that they want to support me and donate without me even having to ask for donations. I also always train in my 3-Day gear. I’ve been out walking and stopped to talk to a neighbor and brought up the 3-Day. Turned out she was a survivor and donated $500 that year (and many years after).
One year I held a garage sale and all of the proceeds went to the 3-Day. Once my neighbors realized that all of the proceeds went to breast cancer, they brought over quite a bit of stuff to sell and donated all of the proceeds to my fundraising efforts for the 3-Day.
After many years of asking our family and friends to donate, my mom and I decided to have a fundraiser at my parents’ house. We wanted to do something that showed our family and friends how much we appreciated their continued support of our fundraising efforts. We named it “Dinner, Drinks and Donations.” People knew exactly what to expect. We decorated her house in as much pink Komen flair as we could come up with; pink Christmas lights, pink balloon garlands, pink flowers, etc. Every year for this fundraiser, we make pink ribbon sugar cookies, pink angel food cake, and have pink plates, pink napkins, pink table cloths, pink cotton candy, etc. We also serve a full dinner buffet (this was pre-Covid of course). Sometimes we do a pink signature cocktail.
Three years ago, my brother-in-law’s mother, Mary, passed away from lung cancer (never smoked a day in her life). She had breast cancer 30 years ago and she was always such an amazing supporter of my 3-Day fundraising efforts. Just before she passed away, I was able to say goodbye to her. I promised her that I would not give up until we find the cures. This promise weighs heavy on my heart. I shared that story at our fundraiser three years ago and spoke about how Susan G. Komen started as a promise between two sisters. We have a flag at our fundraiser so guests can add names of people in their lives who currently have or had breast cancer. We have used the same flag for so many years that it is completely full of names, so we added another flag. This fundraising event is a TON of work for us (we spend about two weeks getting ready for it) and it is fairly expensive to put on (we had 65 people attend this year), but we love to do it because it is our way of thanking our family and friends who donate. A suggestion for other walkers who do not want a fundraising event of this magnitude is to do a “Donations and Desserts” fundraiser (could even be a drive-by event, due to Covid).
This year we decided to do our event but knew we would have to get extra creative due to Covid. We held our “Dinner, Drinks and Donations” outside. We set up tables and patio furniture on the driveway. We asked all guests to bring their own tailgate chair. We made balloon garlands, balloon decorations, wrapped the tree in front of our house in pink Christmas lights, hung pink tulle fabric on the outdoor railing, had a firepit, and had more pink Christmas lights on a tailgating tent. We did not want a buffet of food due to Covid so we had a taco truck come. The event was AMAZING! We raised $5,560 that night!
This year I made a “Ta-Ta Tiki Bar” and my kids sold pink lemonade at our fundraiser. It turned out super cute and was super inexpensive to make. I put battery-operated lights on it and placed in the center of our driveway where guests could not miss it. My kids were so excited because they raised $208 at this event.
Here is the invitation we sent:
The Susan G. Komen 3-Day this year is a go,
And the Ta-Ta’s from KC will be there, you know!
Covid sucks, we all know this is true,
But you are invited to something new!
To keep us all safe and still raise some cash,
Our Drinks, Dinner and Donations is now an outdoor bash!
We hope you will join us, wearing your pink,
Taco Republic’s taco truck will provide food and drink.
Please bring your dollars and a tailgating chair,
This cause means a lot, as you are all aware!
I included both of our personal fundraising webpage links on the invitation so people could donate ahead of time if they wanted to.
Since the Ta-Ta Tiki Bar lemonade stand was such a great success at our “Dinner, Drinks and Donations” event, my kids and I decided that they should have a pink lemonade stand and invite their classmates from school. I used the same tiki bar, bought pink cups, made another pink balloon garland and each of my three kids made their own lemonade stand sign. My kids raised $550 at this event! I was blown away. We did not put a price on the pink lemonade and left it up to what people wanted to donate. Some people donated a couple of dollars, but other people donated up to $50.
As I mentioned earlier, I talk to anyone who will listen about the 3-Day. To be honest, I had not attempted to ask my kids’ friends’ parents for donations. While I can usually ask anyone for a donation, I was somewhat uneasy approaching them for donations. This lemonade stand really opened up dialog with them about the 3-Day, why I walk and how they can donate. Last weekend a mom from my kids’ school approached me and said that she and another mom were talking and decided to hold a fundraiser for me. I was blown away by her generosity and willingness to help me raise money for the 3-Day.
Why do you continue fundraising after you’ve met the $2,300 minimum?
Since I started with the 3-Day in 2005, I’ve always told people that I, alone, cannot find a cure(s) for breast cancer. BUT, if everyone I know would donate $10 (I always say that is like going to Chipotle one time), that would add up so fast! Since 2005, I have personally raised $112,057 and my team has raised $515,494. We are a small but mighty team. We are not big, but we bust our booties to make sure we raise a lot each year. This year at our “Dinner, Drinks and Donations” event, it was so exciting to share with our family and friends that because of them, we have raised over half a million dollars. What if that half a million dollars funds the grant that does find the cures for breast cancer!
Once I hit a fundraising goal, I always set a higher goal. Even if I just raise it a little bit, I still raise it. I also have a personal goal that every year I try to raise more than I raised the year before. Another reason why I continue to fundraise after reaching the minimum is because of all the women (and men) who continue to be diagnosed. When I meet a survivor and we talk about the 3-Day, I always tell them that I walk for them. It rips my heart out when I hear of women my age with young kids who are diagnosed. I will continue walking the 3-Day for those women and the survivors I meet on event. I always ask other walkers why they are walking and when they tell me they are a survivor, I am in awe of them, they truly are amazing.
We’ve seen and heard of your kids getting involved in the fundraising. What do you hope they’ll learn and gain from this experience?
Being a mom to three kids ages 8, 6 and 3, I choose to fundraise because I don’t want them to ever hear the words “you have breast cancer.” I don’t want my life to be cut short by a breast cancer diagnosis. Especially having two daughters, they are such a motivation for me.
The most important thing I want my kids to learn is how amazing it is to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I want them to learn that raising money for a good cause really does make a difference. I want them to learn that life can be tough (walking 60 miles in three days is challenging), but we are all strong and we can all do hard things if we set our minds to it. I want them to learn the importance of working together to accomplish a huge goal — finding the cures for breast cancer. I’ve already talked with them about the 3-Day Youth Corps and that I hope when they are old enough, they want to be a part of it. The 3-Day is more than just a 60-mile walk for breast cancer; it is a part of who I am. This event means the world to me and I will participate until the cures are found!
Every dollar raised for Susan G. Komen makes a difference. Do you have any unique or tried-and-true ways of fundraising? Let us know in the comments below.