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.