Never Giving Up: Meet Nikki S., Former AVON 39 Walker

Nikki (left) and her Aunt Lynne

“My aunt was a mother figure to me.  She had a huge hand in raising me, teaching me right from wrong, explaining all the joys of being a woman (lol), and so much more. She was my biggest supporter, my biggest fan, and wasn’t afraid to tell it how it is. Honestly, I don’t know how I would’ve turned out if it wasn’t for having her and my uncle in my life.”

Many of our 3-Dayers have lost loved ones to breast cancer, but that never makes hearing their stories any easier. It just adds to the motivation, focus, and determination to finding a cure. No one knows this better than Nikki S., who has been both a 3-Day and AVON 39 walker in the past.

She will be returning to the 3-Day this year in memory of her aunt and godmother, Lynne. Having walked in Boston in the past, Nikki knew she could not hang up her walking shoes after the AVON 39 left her home state, and so will be journeying to Philadelphia this September to walk for a cure. Coach Tisho is already “so excited to introduce her to the rest of our family,” and Nikki echoes that excitement as well.

“I am excited for the opportunity to continue to support the cause. Even with AVON no longer being offered, I needed to continue walking in my Auntie Lynne’s honor.”

Lynne’s husband, Nikki’s uncle

Her Aunt Lynne was first diagnosed with breast cancer when Nikki was young, and watching her courageous fight inspired Nikki to first join the 3-Day when she was in college.

“Being a stupid college student, I was pretty confident that I could walk the 60 miles without training AND wearing sneakers I had bought the week before. Funny, huh?! I made it through the first day and a half, until I couldn’t walk through the blisters anymore. I had to shuttle back to camp and call my aunt to come pick me up! We had a good laugh, and she was still proud of me for raising the money, supporting the cause, and trying.”

A few years later, Lynn’s cancer had progressed to metastatic stage 4, found in her lungs and throughout her bones. Nikki began walking the AVON 39 in Boston for Lynne. Sadly, in 2016, Lynne lost her battle — and Nikki lost her dear aunt.

Nikki and her uncle

When asked to describe the importance of the 3-Day, and breast cancer walks, she recalled memories of those tough times.

“Watching my Aunt’s health quickly deteriorate; Hearing her wish she could just go back to work and have normalcy; Having her there to listen to my “bad days” and offer advice, while she never complained about her treatment; Wanting more time and more of her advice; Seeing my Grammy and Grampy lose their first born; Watching my Uncle grieve the loss of his ‘bride’ after their 28 years of marriage and a lifetime of love; The heartbreak that my daughter still goes through, missing her Auntie.”

It is heartbreak that motivates Nikki and keeps her working towards a cure.

She’ll be heading to Philadelphia as a Super Fundraiser (she has raised more than $20,000 in total over the years for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® and the AVON 39) and has a unique success strategy to reach her fundraising goals.

“I would like to surpass my fundraising from last year. I had organized and hosted a very successful comedy show fundraiser, and hope to do the same this year.  It was a great experience, and a great way to attack my fundraising goal.”

We are honored to welcome Nikki back to the 3-Day family this year. Alongside Nikki, we walk for Auntie Lynne. We will never give up.

Top 5 Myths About the Susan G. Komen 3-Day: Debunked!

Whether you’re considering the 3-Day for the first time, or are a veteran participant, every 3-Day experience is different, and it’s only natural that there are questions surrounding such a big endeavor. Luckily, every 3-Dayer has their coaches, local teams and a whole pink family for support and guidance. But, to get that process started, we are debunking some of the most common myths about the 3-Day.…

You don’t need to train.

It’s just walking, right? How hard could it be? Even for those in the best shape, walking sixty miles in only three days will take a toll on your body. We have tons of training tips on the blog, a training app to help track your process, training walks led by your fellow participants, and your coaches host lots of events and trainings to make sure that every walker is ready for the big weekend.

If you don’t live in a host city, you’re on your own.

We have walkers from all over the country! Many travel from far away to walk in the 3-Day, and they feel the full support of the 3-Day family. Our local coaches are available by phone, email and social media to offer advice and help all year long, no matter where you live. You can also use the 3-Day Friend Finder or the Message Boards to find other walkers or teams near you! No matter where you live or where you are, you’re a part of the 3-Day. There’s always a conversation happening on our Facebook page, too.

You must stay overnight camp.

Many of our participants camp, but you do not have to! We work with Hilton Hotels nationwide to provide hotel options for our participants, if you wish to pay for a hotel room instead of sleeping in a pink tent. So, if glamping isn’t your style, you can refresh and recharge in a hotel on both Friday and Saturday night. The 3-Day transports participants to and from the hotel, and camp as well. In fact, on the Philadelphia 3-Day this year, all participants will be staying at a hotel.

You must walk all 60 miles.

We want all our walkers to stay safe and happy all weekend long, and if that means you aren’t able to walk all of the 60 miles, that’s totally all right! We have “sweep vans,” which are fun, festive vans manned by our amazing 3-Day Crew, available to pick walkers up throughout the day. They will happily sweep you off your feet and take you to the next pit stop, where you can get medical attention if you need it, or just take a rest. From there, if you’re unable to continue walking, a Lunch & Camp Shuttle can take you to the lunch stop or to camp.

If you don’t want to walk, you can’t participate.

There are plenty of ways to be involved in the 3-Day, even if you choose not to walk. For example, our walkers must be 16 to take on the 60 miles, but anyone from the ages of 10-16 years old can apply to join our Youth Corps and help cheer on our walkers. You can also join the 3-Day Crew, who volunteer in a variety of ways throughout the weekend, and are encouraged to fundraise for the cause. If you can’t make it for all three days, you can also volunteer in a more limited capacity. You can even be a “walker stalker,” who cheers on all our walkers at cheering stations or follows them along the route, supporting every step. We are always happy to have more people involved in the 3-Day in any way they can!

Do you have a question about the 3-Day? Ask in the comments and we will do our best to answer each and every one!

A Toast to the 3-Day from Haviland F., Your San Diego Toast Lady

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But behind all that excitement and fun is someone deeply dedicated to the 3-Day cause, who works tirelessly for a world without breast cancer. Havliand lost her aunt to breast cancer before she became involved in the 3-Day.

She was first recruited to volunteer by her friend, Kit L., and lost her voice the first year she cheered on 3-Dayers. After a few years of this cheerleading-style weekend, the two wanted to do something different. They wanted to toast all the amazing work the 3-Day was doing, but knew that alcohol wasn’t allowed on event. So, they grabbed slices of sourdough bread instead, and began their “toasting” tradition!

The rest, as they say, is history. Since then, she and Kit have become a staple in the Del Mar community as “The Toast Girls.”

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Haviland raves about Kit and the rest of her San Diego 3-Day community.

“I can’t tell you how much I look forward to the 3-Day event every year, and cheering on every single one of those walkers while wearing more pink than should be allowed in public. Plus, holding up slices of bread.  It’s my honor to do this for these amazing people who are trying to find a cure for breast cancer.   Truly, spending four days with my 3-Day family is something that makes my soul sing every year.”

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To learn more about her dedication to the 3-Day cause, we heard Haviland’s story in her own words…

What are some of your fondest memories of meeting with walkers while you cheer them on?

Holy cow where do I start?!  All the ones I’ve made and the ones I have yet to make. From that first year cheering in over 3000 walkers to the last few years as a toast girl.  I love that I can inspire people.  It’s the least I can do because truly they are the ones who inspire me to come back year after year.

What keeps you coming back year after year?

Simple: The 3-Day is my family.  […] It’s my privilege to cheer and support these fearless walkers on the route and at camp. I come back to remember my Aunt Joanne and honor her. I come because my heart calls me to do so. It makes me feel that I have power over something that can make you feel powerless.  I will always be a 3-Day “Toast Girl.”

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Why is it so important that we continue to support breast cancer charities?

It’s important to continue so that we can put a stop to families losing time with loved ones. Time is precious and we all deserve a full lifetime.

Who are other people you want to “toast” to in your life?

My beautiful children Taylor and Ian.  My amazing family.  My closest friends Jen, Melanie, Kit, Janet and a ton of others all these people have touched my life in a significant way. And of course, my amazing 3-Day people – those who I know and those who I still have yet to meet!

We toast to you, Haviland!

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