Nominated by his daughter, Michelle, a longtime 3-Day participant Bill W. shares why the 3-Day and the Pink Bubble mean so much to him.
How did you get involved with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day?
Some co-workers of mine did the Komen 3-Day in 2005. I was interested but didn’t know if I could walk 60 miles. They signed up again in 2006 and I took the plunge and did my first one. I have been involved as a walker, crew, staff or team support every year since then.
How many 3-Days have you participated in?
I have participated in 19 3-Day events as either a walker, crew or staff. I participated in 3-Day Nation in 2021, too.
What’s your story?
I got involved because of my co-workers who did the 3-Day in 2005. I thought it would be a good challenge for me and now I can’t quit. The Pink Bubble gets in your blood. I have made so many friends throughout the 3-Day and have lost some friends, too. One dear friend is the push behind me, Rennie B. We lost Rennie on April 17, 2015. She was no different than a lot of other ladies fighting this battle, but she was a dear close friend of mine. I know she had down days, but she never showed them in public. Her smile and laughter would light up your darkest days. And of course, we all know Mamie, the 3-Day caboose. I met Mamie on a training walk when she was going through treatment and her head was as slick as a cue ball, but she wasn’t going to let this disease get her. She was training to do the 60-mile walk while undergoing treatment. On Thursday night before the Dallas/Fort Worth walk started, our team would have dinner, and I usually had eight to ten walkers spend the night at my house in Plano, because the opening ceremony was in the area. Mamie’s husband, Tom, would always bring her and others over and stay for the team dinner. At dinner, Tom would come up to me with Mamie and place her hand in mine and tell me she was mine for the next three days. On Sunday after the Closing Ceremony I would give Mamie back to Tom. This is how Mamie became my 3-Day wife. I also have to include the RHP, Red Headed Pest, aka Sharon L. Our friendship over the years and miles has grown and grown. We don’t see each other often but we talk several times a week, to keep in touch with each other. These are a few of my Pink Survivor Sisters. There are many more reasons and stories but when I think of the 3-Day, these are the friends I think of first and some of the memories I will always cherish. These memories are what pink dreams are made of! I am very fortunate to not have any immediate family members affected by this disease. My daughter and son-in-law have been very supportive of me in this challenge. After they graduated college, my daughter Michelle wanted to do the walk. She has done several with me, and her husband Stephen has been there supporting us. In 2021, we raised enough money so that Stephen could walk San Diego with us, so we had a family affair ― Stephen, Michelle and I all walked the hills and coastal paths of San Diego.
What does the 3-Day and the Pink Bubble mean to you?
The 3-Day and the Pink Bubble, you can’t separate them. They are part of all these answers, but it is all the camaraderie, the friends, and the experience of so many people coming together for one cause from all over the world. We don’t care what your religion is, where you’re from, the color of your skin ― we are here for one cause and that is to defeat breast cancer. We are all in it together. This isn’t a race, we help each other, we laugh together, we cry together, we walk together, and we celebrate together. We are one big happy pink family. So many of us only see each other one to four times a year, but the love that radiates from this gathering is unreal. You can’t fully explain it to an outsider; you have to experience it for yourself. You can get a taste from the cheering stations, but that is not the full effect of the Pink Bubble. I don’t know if there are words that truly describe the Pink Bubble/3-Day/Pink Family. It is something you dream about and get all warm and fuzzy inside. Before I retired, my co-workers would comment early on in October “It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; you can tell by how Bill is acting.” I took that as a compliment.
We’ve seen the big pink wig and decorated bra you’ve worn on event before. Is there a story behind those items?
I like to be a little crazy, ok a lot crazy. The first year I participated, I bought a cheap pink Halloween wig on sale the night before the walk started. I have worn that wig every 3-Day. That was the start of what my pink collection is now, and me becoming known as PHG ― Pink Hair Guy. I have had walkers and friends give me wigs and sunglasses. Several years ago, at a Dallas Cowboys game, the one where they honored breast cancer survivors, there was a guy in a pink suit and a big pink afro wig. One of my friends thought it was me and sent me a picture he took. I immediately thought, “I have to have that wig,” and thanks to Google, now I do. It has become a mainstay since 2015, I believe. I would decorate pink bras to wear and would always be looking for something new or different. One day I was walking through Target and spotted some pink cones on a clearance shelf. I got a pair and the wheels started turning on how they would be my new bra. The next year I changed to pin wheels, and I love that they can spin in the wind. What is the reason behind it? Just being crazy and having fun. Yes, it is a job to walk with that on, but nothing like going through chemo! I love it when I surprise a walker with my outfit, the laughter, the smiles, they make it all worthwhile. If my outfits make one walker, crew, or stalker forget the pain they are having for a minute or two, then it has been worth every drop of sweat from wearing the wig.
Why do you think it’s important to raise money for this cause?
We have lost too many people to this disease to not to keep fighting and raising money for the cause. Cancer is the number two cause of death in the U.S. We can’t not continue to raise money to find the cures!
What’s something you want the Pink Bubble to know about you?
Well, I’m pretty transparent, so you get what you see. I hope if you spend time with me, whether it’s walking, crewing, on staff or just sitting around, that I made you smile or laugh a little and left you feeling a little better than before we spent time together. I’m no different than anybody else. We all just want to leave our fellow man a little better off because we were there.
Do you know a 3-Day all-star who should be featured as a Pink Bubble Story of the Month? Nominate them here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PinkBubbleStory. Check out our other Pink Bubble Story of the Month features here.
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