Feel the Love: Meet Lauri Y., 3-Day Walker

Kindness. Generosity. Compassion.

These feelings are commonly associated with love-centric holidays like Valentine’s Day, but are also how Lauri Yanis, veteran 3-Day walker and crew member, describes the 60-mile adventure that is her 3-Day journey.

Lauri has been walking and supporting the 3-Day for almost two decades, and is firmly entrenched in its community. Luckily, she has had someone very important by her side for every step: her husband Matt, whom she met on her first 3-Day walk.

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Finding a love connection on the 3-Day has led Lauri and Matt to a relationship based on the principles of “Communication. Honesty. A willingness to ask for help, and a willingness to offer help.” It’s also kept them walking and crewing at least one 3-Day every year since they met. Lauri still remembers the moment of their first meeting on “Day Zero,” as the Thursday before the 3-Day was called before walkers were able to check in online.

“My (random) tent-mate and I agreed to meet on Day Zero, and then it was a last minute decision that we would stay overnight together in a hotel before Opening Ceremony. To get assigned to a tent together, we had to be there at the same time and go up in line together. And when we finished, we got on the very last bus to our hotel. This is important because I am never last! I am always early, but they were shutting things down, we had been there for hours and we got on the last bus. And this is where it’s so funny how fate and karma work.

This guy gets on the bus after us, even later than us, and he made a snide comment. And that’s him! That’s the man I’m going to marry! He was a wise ass. He was sarcastic. […] But, I said “Hi” to him, and the rest is history!”

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Lauri and Matt ended up having dinner together that first night, and shared their reasons for walking the 3-Day. Lauri was walking for a dear friend who at that time was battling breast cancer. Matt, on the other hand, did not have anyone in his life who was directly suffering from the disease.

Lauri explains, “He said ‘I’m walking for my mom, and my daughter, and my grandmother, and I’m even walking for my ex-wife.’ And I thought that was just great!”

The two walked much of the sixty miles together, and a few weeks after the walk, Matt came to visit Lauri for the first time. From there, they united their two families, and years later made it official with a wedding and a “honeymoon” spent on the 3-Day.

“In 2006, we walked two weeks after our wedding so we wore hats that said ‘Newlyweds for the Cure’ and tied little plastic champagne bottles to the back of our tent. We joked that more people should honeymoon with hundreds of their closest family and friends!”

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Though Lauri and Matt have never personally met any other couples who have met on the 3-Day, Lauri has heard stories of them, and says she’s not surprised that love could bloom on the walk. It has, after all, helped shape her and Matt’s love story.

“It’s really central to our relationship. We have lived inside the “Pink Bubble,” and you spend 3 days being your very best self. People are just decent and kind, and inspired to be their best self for those three days. Because we’ve done that together so many times, we can bring each other back to that spirit. It’s truly shaped who we are.”

Since their meeting, Lauri and Matt have recruited multiple family members to the 3-Day, and say that’s no longer a matter of “if” they will participate each year, but rather what cities they will be participating in. This year, keep an eye out for them walking in San Diego and crewing in Philadelphia.

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“It’s such a great event, and any difference I can make for people facing the disease is a big part of it for me. I believe in the research being done by (Susan G.) Komen. I think that what Komen offers to families who don’t have good support, or who are lower income, or who don’t live near treatment centers, that is very important,” Lauri explains. “There is this body of caring people who really want to make a difference. So you see that body, and you want to be a part of it, and it keeps swirling and growing.”

Lauri and Matt are doing what they can to keep the community growing each year. This includes continuing to walk and crew together, doing their fundraising as a couple, and even going on walking “dates” whenever they can.

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As for their plans for Valentine’s Day 2017, Lauri says she is lucky enough to have every day feel like Valentine’s Day.

“We’re sappy like that so we don’t have any special plans,” she laughs. “We do a romantic date every week. I got lucky.”

Lucky in love on the 3-Day, indeed!

 

Why I’m Coming Back…

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This week, we asked our Susan G. Komen 3-Day® social media community to tell us why they will be returning to the Komen 3-Day this year. Their responses ranged from encouraging to heartbreaking, from funny to inspiring, but no matter what your reason, every story reminds us all about the importance of the 3-Day® and our part in it. It is because you keep coming back, and keep fighting, that makes you More Than Pink™.

We put some of your responses into a word cloud, and all the wonderful comments can be found in the original threads on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. If you haven’t shared your reason yet, feel free to add on!

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Below is a selection from some of the amazing walkers who have already told us why they’re coming back…

Sarah Hillstead: I am coming back because I have to. It’s my amazing pink family!! Without my pink family I would not be the person I am today. They have seen me at my worst times and my best times. They are my family.

Sally Poag: I walk because in 2017 I will be an 8-year survivor. I made a promise to my angels, walk I must.

Stacey Hardy: I walked the last Chicago 3-Day the year I was diagnosed. I will walk the Seattle 3-Day to celebrate as a 5-year survivor!!! My 13-year-old son hopes to be in the Youth Corps and go on this journey with me!!!

Dana B. Parker: As a two-time survivor, my desire to make a difference is greater than ever. If by walking I can spare just one woman in my lifetime I will walk. My journey will not end until a cure is found.

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Sharyn Lowney Eaton: I started as a walker in 2006, later crewed Tampa and other cities, went to work for Komen as a part-time Field Coordinator for Boston, and the rest is history. My heart belongs to the Boston 3-Day and all the amazing people I’ve met in every city.
This September will be event 29 for me and I’m so excited. Who’s going to join my team, A String of Pearls, and come to Seattle!

Sandi Van Kirk: This year will be my 7th year on the medical crew. I started volunteering the year after my daughter did her first walk here in Seattle. She began walking after her mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suzanne passed away 6 years after her diagnosis. She fought with courage and never let breast cancer define her.

Karen Perlstein Kaplan: I’m coming back because this is something I can do to help put an end to breast cancer. I walked 5 years and have crewed for 3. I have registered to crew in two cities in 2017. The 3-Day is like a retreat—it’s a place where everyone is kind to everyone else and we are all united for one goal.

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Dena M Groth-McLauchlin: I am coming back because of all the amazing friends I have made along the way. We are all members of the 3-Day family. We are all fighting to end breast cancer. We come back because we must continue this fight until everyone has a chance at a lifetime without cancer. My hope for 2017 is to form the first team in San Diego that consists of members from all 50 States. Please join Team Shenanigans!

Lynda DI Caro: November 2017 will be the 10th celebration of my involvement in the 3-Day. I continue to be involved because it not only brings awareness and the much-needed funding to help find a cure. And, equally important, it is three wonderful days of caring, support, respect and joy. We come together for many reasons and share a common goal. I hope for a day when we can gather for 3 days to rejoice because of a cure.

Vicki Bates Layne: I’m coming back for my 5th year. My mother and several friends lost their battle. And I know several who have won. Their struggle inspired me to fight as hard as they did and not give up until there is a cure. I have a team this year and hope to double my fundraising efforts.