The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day: Every Step is a Story

Three days. 60 miles. To end breast cancer. That may be all you knew when you signed up for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. But there’s so much more that goes into the full Pink Bubble experience, in the months before and all throughout the event itself. In this Insider’s guide to the 3-Day, we’ll tell you all about fundraising and training, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, whether you’re camping outdoors or staying in hotels, we’ll show you everything that happens along the way! 

Getting Ready: 3-Day Fundraising 

  • Ask everyone…and then ask again! Never doubt how much family and friends want to support you on your 3-Day journey. For some participants, “the ask” isn’t easy, but you are asking for a cause you believe in, so allow donors to see your passion and how much you are willing to do in this fight. 3-Day participant Lindsey B. has been very creative in her fundraising efforts! You can read more about how Lindsey fundraises here
  • Whether or not a person donates, ask them to forward your email onto their family and friends, and watch your donor circle grow. Always remember that follow-up is key! 
  • Utilize social media and have fun with it. Try a Ten Dollar, or Twenty Dollar Tuesday, “I am walking for…”, Wednesday, High-Five Dollar Friday—the possibilities are endless. Create that sense of urgency and enjoy the process of connecting with folks while watching your fundraising grow. 
  • Try out a Facebook Fundraiser! The 2021 San Diego 3-Day was Felice A.’s first 3-Day, and she had great success with her Facebook Fundraiser; read her story and success using this tool here. You can create a Facebook Fundraiser and share it with all your Facebook friends to get donations from. Many participants have had great success by utilizing this tool in social media.  
  • You can also utilize the 3-Day App for fundraising by using some template conversation starters and send messages directly through the app when you log in. There’s even an option to schedule fundraising messages to be sent out months, weeks and days before your 3-Day event. 
  • Double (or even triple) your fundraising dollars with a matching gift. Loretta E., the first 3-Day participant to ever raise $500,000, explains how matching gifts helped her reach this milestone here. Check out our matching gift page at for detailed instructions. Simply ask every donor, “Does your company participate in a matching gift program?” That $25 donation might become a $50 donation! 
  • Check out the 3-Day Blog for more fundraising posts and ideas to help get you started. 

Getting Ready: 3-Day Training 

  • Follow our suggested training program and make it your own. Given everyone’s busy schedules, it might seem daunting when you look at the entire 24-week or 16-week training schedule. Just take it week-by-week and get the miles in when you can. 
  • A lunchtime or evening walk can help fit training into your work week. You’ll probably find that the weekends will be when you train the most, but this will differ from person to person. Track your progress by how much your mileage increases each week, rather than the number of individual training walks. 
  • Look for official training walks being led in your area at These are led by your fellow 3-Day participants who have volunteered to be training walk leaders and are an excellent way to train, meet fellow walkers and have some 3-Day fun! 
  • You can even check out some training tips we have on our blog

Your Susan G. Komen 3Day® story starts the moment you sign up. Your 3-Day coach will support and mentor you as you train and fundraise. Our amazing close-knit community of walkers, crew, and volunteers will welcome you with open arms, both in-person at social gatherings and training walks and virtually on social media, as we spend months getting ready for our three magical days together in our Pink Bubble. 

And then it begins…Friday morning on the 3-Day 

You cannot deny the buzz in the air the morning of the Opening Ceremony. Excitement, nervousness, anticipation, lots of moving pieces…and lots of PINK! Get your tissues ready because once the Opening Ceremony begins, it’s an experience like no other. An experience that connects us to why we walk and sets the stage for your three days ahead. 

Taking on 60 miles! 

With every mile, we pay tribute. We wear the memories of our loved ones on our shirts, in our hands, in our hearts, and in 3-Day participant Deana K.’s case, sometimes even on our bellies. The feelings of pride and strength you’ll realize while walking 60 miles are only matched by the spirit and gratitude of the people you encounter along the way.  

To say you are fully supported on the 3-Day route is an understatement. From the pit stops, where you refuel and rehydrate and pay a visit to the Porta-Potties, to the cheering stations where families, local community and strangers who are now friends come out to cheer on walkers and sprinkle encouragement through their words and signs. 

We must give a shoutout to our all-volunteer and all-around amazing Crew. Crew members commit to all three days like the walkers and experience a different kind of 3-Day. You will find Crew around every turn and at camp making sure walkers are fully supported. At pit stops, the lunch stop, and patrolling the route on motorcycles and bicycles. Crew sets up camp, hauls participants’ gear, and much more. Medical Crew makes sure participants are happy and healthy all weekend. 

In many cities, we also have passionate delegations of local law enforcement personnel who volunteer to provide additional route support. If you’ve never seen a police sergeant wearing a pink tutu and fairy wings, riding his bike up a massive hill for the tenth time that day, just so he can motivate the walkers with his music and his moves, chances are good that you’ll see it on the 3-Day. And it will motivate you. 

We also have our volunteer Youth Corps—our friends in yellow ages 10-16. These are kids and teens who commit to serving the walkers throughout the weekend. To see these young people giving their time and energy to the fight against breast cancer really speaks to our future. 

Camp: A More Than Pink Sleepover! 

On the San Diego 3-Day, camp is outdoors. Camping on the 3-Day isn’t roughing it, though. The word “glamping” is much more like it. The 3-Day staff and Crew puts in a lot of effort to make sure 3-Day participants are made to feel welcome and comfortable all weekend.  

Your pink tent will be your home away from home, and you’ll eat a yummy breakfast and dinner in the dining tent. Immerse yourself in the 3-Day campsite; it’s really part of your experience. Join the nightly activities, visit 3-Day Main Street, come to the Honor Ceremony on Saturday evening, and shower in the shower trucks. It’s a memorable experience like no other. 

Just like on the route, you are fully supported and won’t want to leave this sweet bubble of love and kindness. Alas, Sunday will arrive, you’ll bid farewell to camp, pack up your belongings and be reunited with your gear at the Participant Finish Area. 

Hotel: Still the Pink Bubble Experience 

On the New England, Chicago and Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, “camp” takes place in a hotel, and we put all participants up in hotel rooms for Friday and Saturday night. 

All the fun activities, 3-Day Main Street, entertainment programs and meals that make up the Pink Bubble experience will be held in the hotel ballroom every morning and night.  

Halfway Celebration 

At lunch on day two, we celebrate being halfway done with our 60-mile journey! Walkers are welcomed into lunch with an arch of pink streamers, a DJ and a special halfway dance. As we leave lunch to finish day two, we prepare for the Honor Ceremony, which tugs at our heart strings and fills us with gratitude as we all light a candle to honor the loved ones we’re walking for. 

Closing Ceremony and the morning after… 

The last day of the 3-Day is bittersweet. Walking into the Closing Ceremony is indescribable. Since each participant has their own reason for participating in the 3-Day, each participant might have a different feeling when they take their final steps into the Finish Line Festival and await the Closing Ceremony. 

Once everyone has arrived, the Closing Ceremony begins. It’s an amazing celebration of everything you accomplished, remembering those we have lost, and honoring those who are in the fight of their lives. Check out our recap of the 2021 San Diego 3-Day here

The walkers and crew of the 3-Day are part of a special group, bound together by their passion, enthusiasm and drive to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. We will never give up, and you will feel this drive and passion from the moment you register for your 3-Day journey, too! 

Loretta E.’s Fundraising Milestone: The Journey to $500,000

Fundraising can be hard, but if you’ve participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, you know how your donation dollars can save and extend lives. 16-time walker Loretta E. was initially nervous about being able to raise enough money to participate, but every year she has walked she has surpassed the minimum… by a lot. Loretta is now celebrating an amazing milestone—she’s the first-ever Komen 3-Day participant to raise $500,000! We asked Loretta what her connection is to breast cancer, and why she is so committed to finding the cures. 

How many 3-Days have you participated in? 

I’ve walked 16 3-Days! I have walked at least one city each year since 2006, except for 2016 when my father passed away the day I was supposed to begin the Seattle 3-Day®. 

What is your connection to breast cancer? 

My mother, Beverly, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 just after turning 60. She had a single mastectomy and was declared cancer-free. A year and a half later though, it metastasized to her collar bone and liver. She died in June 2007 due to complications from metastatic breast cancer. 

You’ve reached a huge milestone by raising half a million dollars to fight this disease. What does this mean to you? 

(Loretta is a member of the 3-Day Lifetime Commitment Circle, a group of dedicated individuals who have gone above and beyond, raising at least $100,000 individually or $1M as a team and showing leadership in fundraising and team development.) It has touched me deeply to learn how the money we raise is being used. At our first gathering of the Lifetime Commitment Circle, hearing stories first-hand from some of the doctors, researchers, and community outreach program leaders how the funds we raise for Susan G. Komen® are being used to help so many, I became even more inspired to continue to raise money! When people begin to understand what we are involved in and why, they are often interested in participating in some manner. Thankfully, for me, many of those are the very people who donate year after year. They truly are part of my team! Ultimately though, reaching this milestone means that my mother’s suffering and death were not in vain. Because of her, I have a deepened desire to help others in ways I know how. I’m not a doctor, a researcher, a scientist or a program leader, but I can walk and I can raise money for something I know makes a real difference! 

Why do you go over and above your fundraising minimum? 

I really never intended to raise more than $2,300! I used to be a very private person, but after my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was very open about how she was doing, what she was going through and what our family was learning about living with breast cancer. I shared this freely in my personal life and at my workplace, which is in a remote area of Alaska. Many of my co-workers are like extended family to me; my brother and father all worked in the same location. By the time I started walking in 2006, I think people knew this was something BIG I wanted to do with my family in support of our mom. That may have motivated them to donate. I was so nervous that first year about raising $2,300. Somehow, I managed to raise about $16,000. I was stunned!  

Eventually, I learned that there were matching funds available through the company I worked for at the time and taught myself how the system works in order to teach donors who were eligible for matching to make use of that “free” money. I encouraged donors and helped them get matching gifts for any charity that was important to them, even if it wasn’t Susan G. Komen. It paid off big time! I haven’t really held fundraising events; the money I have raised came from individual donations and any company matching gifts that were available, and I am so grateful. I guess I go over and above simply because I can. 

What is something you want to tell the Pink Bubble? 

Let people in your life know that you are participating in the 3-Day and why. Your story may spark something inside them and inspire others to want to make a difference with you either by donating, crewing or walking!  

Do not decide ahead of time who will or will not donate — ask everyone you know! I have frequently been surprised by unexpected donations. I have found that many donors have someone in their life with breast cancer. Had I not reached out and given them an invitation to donate, I may not have made that connection with them. And it does create lasting connections.  

Follow up, follow up, follow up! People have busy lives and forget about an email that was sent or a post that was made. 

What is a fun fact about you? 

I moved from Texas to Alaska with my family when I was 10. Outside of the first ten years of my life and the years I was in college back in Texas, I have lived in Alaska. I work as a Maintenance Coordinator in one of the largest oil fields in North America! I travel to the Arctic and work for 14 consecutive days each month, followed by 14 days off at my home in Anchorage. 

Loretta will be participating in her 17th 3-Day in San Diego this November. Please join us in congratulating Loretta on this amazing milestone! Leave her a message in the comments. 

Love Letter to the 3-Day

Why do we participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day ®? Because we have an unfortunate connection that brings us together: we have been touched somehow by breast cancer. The silver lining is that out of that pain and struggle has arisen the community that is the Pink Bubble. Inside this Pink Bubble we support each other, we appreciate each other, and we love each other. This Valentine’s Day, we asked members of the Pink Bubble to write their own love letters to the Komen 3-Day. 

Every step together is an adventure, a journey towards the future of all who are fighting, will fight and have lost their fight against breast cancer. We walk together in love and hope for the future where this journey is no longer needed. —Shelly L. 

Dear 3-Day, we started dating in 2010 and I’ve never looked back on that decision! This year I’ll be doing my 21st 3-Day. Not only have we done some amazing things together in the fight against breast cancer, I’ve made so many lifelong friends along the way! My teams, Men With Heart and Friends With Heart have been incredible! Not to mention my two “Walk Wives” Cheryl and Jenn, who I couldn’t imagine not having in my life. My commitment to the 3-Day has certainly enriched my life more than I could have imagined when I started! Much Love, Frank M. 

Dear 3-Day, Thank you. You have lit a passion in me and inspired me to do more than I ever thought possible for not only a cause that has touched my family, friends and community, but for me personally as well. “Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.”—Rikki Rogers. Love always and forever, Theresa E., 22-year cancer survivor. 

The 3-Day has given me the strength to stand up for others, see beyond my own problems and realize that we are stronger when we are joined together. I am more proud of myself when training and fundraising for the 3-Day than I am at any other time. —Liz P. 

Dear 3-Day, I never dreamed my love for you would grow into what it is today. Thank you for all you have brought to my life. When I feel like giving up, your love keeps me going. I look forward every day to our next time together. —Lia L. 

Dear 3-Day, thank you for giving me back a purpose to my life when I thought I lost all meaning. —Jennifer R. 

Dear 3-Day, they said I was crazy, we would never last. They didn’t believe me when I said you completed me. What do they know? —Sally P. 

To Susan G. Komen, with love:  

One of the greatest gifts I have ever received was to see that I was not alone in my grief, and that in my grief, I could make a difference. It is often said “we don’t remember days; we remember moments.” So it goes that I will always remember the love. I remember crying during the Opening Ceremony. An unexpected release of the sorrow I had held tight to when a stranger reached out to hold my hand in comfort and in unity, as so many around me remembered loved ones lost too soon or prayed for those still fighting for their lives. Tears dried, and courage was born. I won’t ever forget all the survivors fiercely determined to make the journey to make a difference, to not stop fighting, to never give up. 

Giving up is never an option. I will always remember the crew and their themed pit stops, lifting the spirits of the weary. Their goal is that all walkers’ needs are attended to, as they quenched our thirst and fed our bellies. They tended to our blisters and aching muscles, and still found the time and energy to entertain, bring smiles and laughter; a family outside of family. I could never forget all those who took care that we were safe. Police on bicycles slowing down to chat, checking in to see if we were okay. The kind and creative motorcyclists, embellishing their cycles with teddy bears, bras or flamingos. The safety crews who assured street crossings were as entertaining as they were trouble-free. The sweep vans artistically decked out with optimism that we can make it, “Go Walkers Go,” but there for us just in case we needed them.  

I still clearly remember the amazing support from communities big and small, offering home-baked goods at every corner. Families, cheerleaders and girl scouts clapping and shouting words of encouragement. There were dogs dressed in pink skirts, boys and grown men were wearing bras, pink wigs and fishnet stockings. There were signs that made us laugh, signs that made us reflect, and so many signs that said, “Thank you for walking!” There was a big guy in thigh-high white boots with six-inch heels, standing there handing out hugs and high fives. And I’ll never forget the small gray-haired woman standing on the sidewalk in front of her house, offering walkers to use her bathroom if they were tired of using porta-potties!  

I will most certainly never forget walking in on the last day of my first 3-Day as the “Tunnel of Love” loomed large in front of me: a greeting of hundreds of walkers standing shoulder to shoulder on both sides of the walkway, their hands held high in the air, clapping and cheering, welcoming us back as the music soared and my emotions shattered. Their congratulations and their thank yous, their screaming, “YOU DID IT!! WOOHOO WALKERS! WAY TO GO!” A hero’s welcome I will never forget, a moment I pay forward still.  

Mostly, I will always remember the love and the extraordinary people I met from all walks of life going through different but similar trials, losses and struggles. I remember the kindred spirit that arose from so many who know that we can’t quit, that we must keep fighting because every life matters and quitting is not an option. Mostly, I will always remember the love. Thank you, Susan G. Komen, for allowing me to see that I was not alone in my grief, for allowing me to be surrounded by so many good people filled with an abundance of love and kindness and a common cause to rid the world of breast cancer. Because of you, I will always remember the love. —Maureen W. 

The  3-Day® brings us together in so many ways with so much love in every step of the 60 miles. If you could write a love letter to the 3-Day, what would you say? Let us know in the comments.