Meet the 3-Day Team: Karen Odell, Atlanta Coach

We are lucky to work with some of the best in our 3-Day family. From coaches to volunteer coordinators to event planners, we are always working to make your sixty miles the best they can be! With that in mind, we are highlighting some of our amazing team members each month, so you can get to know the people working to help you every day.

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Our 3-Day rock star of the month is Karen Odell, a new coach for our Atlanta 3-Day. She will be out and about in the community, working with our amazing participants to help bring new walkers and more awareness to the Atlanta 3‑Day this year.

Karen has just re-joined the 3-Day team working with a lung cancer non-profit, and she is very happy to be settled in with the Atlanta 3-Day team.

“I love the nature trails along the river. We have several miles of hiking that take you along beautiful hilly stretches and lead to lovely views of the Chattahoochee River!”

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The trails are perfect for 3-Day training for Atlanta natives, and walkers from all cities should keep an eye out for Karen on the event.

“I am looking forward to reconnecting with participants and volunteers who I haven’t seen in a few years. It is wonderful to see how many are still engaged with the event!”

That includes Karen herself, who became involved with the 3-Day after realizing she had a true passion for cancer research fundraising. She then turned that passion into her daily work, and now focuses her work “to drive registrations to the best of my ability, to connect and communicate with participants on a personal level and to ensure that the event experience is of the highest standard.”

Have a question or a concern? Don’t worry! Karen says the 3-Day is “easier than you expect,” and encourages first-time walkers, potential walkers, and even veterans to reach out to her.

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“We are available to coach and mentor you through the journey and have the tools to make sure you succeed. I think when we have the opportunity to meet face-to-face and introduce new participants to our seasoned veterans, they are put at ease and realize this event is something they can do!”

That support also helps participants to create their own experience as they trek those 60 miles.

“The 3-Day is unique for each participant because everyone comes to it with a different perspective and world view. When they arrive on event, all the training and hard work culminate in an experience that unfolds as uniquely their own. Although the experience is shared with many, each person creates their own personal journey.”

Want to know more about Karen’s journey? Offer her a trip to Greece or some seriously good seafood, and she just might tell you! These are a few of the Southern girl’s favorite things, along with tunes by Florence and the Machine, The Eurhythmics, Paul Simon and Prince.

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Plus, if she ever needs a new career, she could always be a chef or an actress! She earned a culinary degree, and was also an extra on Saturday Night Live before joining the 3-Day team. So, when you see her on the Atlanta 3-Day, feel free to tell her a joke or share a recipe, as well as asking any of your questions about the 3-Day.

See you in Atlanta!

Let’s Talk About Glamping

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Did you know that people have been glamping for centuries? Although the word itself didn’t enter our vocabulary until around 2000, the first noted example of “glamping” was in the sixteenth century, when the Scottish Earl of Atholl prepared a marvelous experience in the Highlands for the visiting King James V and his mother. The Duke raised lavish tents and filled them with all the provisions of his own home palace.

Well, if it’s good enough for a monarch, then it’s certainly good enough for our 3-Dayers!

For the two nights you spend with us on the 3-Day, we like to think we take camping up a notch. Yes, you will be sleeping in our signature pink tents, but there is so much more to our glamping lifestyle than that! You will also experience the excitement of being surrounded by hundreds of your 3-Day friends, the fun of our activities to help you stay fresh and ready for the next day of walking, and of course, the deliciousness of our breakfast and dinner feasts.

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We also recommend that everyone stop at our special Remembrance Tent, where you can take a moment to reflect on those for whom you walk. It’s a more somber and emotional spot in our 3-Day camp, but certainly one that helps keep many 3-Dayers find new strength and motivation throughout the three days.

There is also the 3-Day Lounge with special treats and drinks, plus spots to spend some quiet time with a magazine and a comfy chair, take a picture with friends, and check the 3-Day Post Office to see if you’ve received mail from a loved one at home and pick up a Sweet Treat if a kind supporter treated you.

This all sounds pretty great, right?

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If you want to take it up another notch this year, we also have a special opportunity for a truly VIP Slumber Party experience at our 3-Day camp.

If you recruit two first-time 3-Day walkers by April 19, we’ll arrange for you to have a VIP slumber party together on the event. What will that include? You will have a glamorous large tent that sleeps up to four people, complete with air mattresses and pillows. Add in phone chargers and camp chairs, and you’ve got a pretty cozy set-up! Still not enough? You’ll also receive souvenir pajama pants to take home for each member of your party (up to 4). Check out The3Day.org/Refer for all the details.

If you don’t want to stay at camp, you can choose a reward of two free nights at a 3-Day host hotel for the Friday and Saturday of the event, instead of the slumber party.

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Bonus! If the first-time walkers you are recruiting also live outside one of our 3-Day markets, they’ll get a free plane ticket,if they register by April 19 with discount code BYB17. Visit The3Day.org/Bestie for more information about that offer.

Glamping just received an upgrade. What are you waiting for?

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Sister, Sister: Meet Angela and Shelly

The bond between sisters is truly unique and special, but the bond between “Titsters” is even deeper! Just ask Angela and Shelly, a sister duo who are part of the 3 Day family. Angela is currently battling breast cancer, and Shelly walks for Team Titster in the Twin Cities 3-Day in her honor.

From a young age, these two were joined at the hip, which meant Angela getting all her hair cut off when Shelly wanted to play “beauty parlor” or putting on plays and concerts together in their neighborhood. These “Titsters,” Angela’s childhood name for her sister, have been there for each other through it all.

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That journey and support also includes Angela’s ongoing fight with breast cancer, one that Shelly has been a part of since Angela’s diagnosis. Angela was initially diagnosed with cancer when she was seven months pregnant, and her sister “was there immediately to ensure she was there for the birth of my baby girl and to hold my hand during my first chemotherapy. During that chemotherapy, all we did was laugh at videos, reminisce on memories, and I think about that more than being sick after the treatment.”

“After I completed my treatment after my first round of breast cancer, I went to a pretty dark place. The mental and physical struggle after treatment can be more challenging than anything. Woman and men feel more alone than ever. They have constant help, messages, and support during treatment, but what happens after is way more crucial. During treatment, we are in survival mode and cannot fully comprehend that we are going through cancer. Once treatment is done, the messages and help dwindle but the pain is still there. Our body is adjusting and still combatting the toll of chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation. Mentally, we never recover. The constant thought of recurrence always lingers and life is never the same. At the same time, we gain strength in a different way and look at the world and see that life is a gift. We cherish memories differently, we see the kindness of family and our community, and know that every day counts.”

Angela’s treatment will continue for the rest of her life, as she was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer in January of 2016. Stage IV research made up nearly 40% of Susan G. Komen’s overall research investment in 2016, with more than $166 million in funding for over 400 research grants and more than 40 clinical trials focused on metastatic disease to date. Aside from research and monetary support, Angela says she is constantly amazed by the support she receives from her family and even the community at large.

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“What is so enlightening with all these clinical trials is that everything is so new at this point. And it is scary regardless, but what I like to tell people is that every day is a gift, but also a battle. Cancer is not going to control my life. It’s always going to be a part of me, but it does not define me.

“I’m also confident that I will live my life to inspire people and show people that despite being diagnosed with cancer, it doesn’t define you. I keep a happy journal, and at the end of every day I write my favorite part of the day, whether it’s a wonderful moment with my kids or a great conversation with my sister.”

3day20153Angela also credits Shelly as her rock, even from states away.

“The bond I have with my sister has helped me tremendously with this struggle and she truly showcases the bond that sisters have. She was there to comfort me and help me understand this it’s okay to still cry, but more importantly to laugh. We live in different states and I know that signing up for the 3-Day was just another way to show that she’s always there to face my battles with me, even if we cannot do it together.”

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Part of Shelly’s support has come through her involvement in the 3-Day, which began as a crew member and has continued as a walker and fundraiser for the team she formed last year, Team Titster. Her first year on the 3-Day was a monumental one.

“When I signed up to be in the crew, part of the sign-up mentioned possibly being a part of the Opening or Closing Ceremony, speaking and carrying the sister flag,” Shelly explained when talking about speaking at her first walk. “The day before the walk at Crew Training, I met a bunch of very friendly, fun gals, who when I spoke on stage the next morning, cheered me on, even though I was nervous, and even though I was a stranger to them up until the day before. That has been my experience with everyone connected to the walk. Just good people.”

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For her second year with the 3 Day, Shelly took to the trails and walked in her sister’s honor.

“When I decided to walk the next year, I was a little intimidated by the fundraising. But I found that when I reached out to my network to let them know why I was walking, and asked them to consider donating, people were more than willing to support me and Angie and the cause. I also found that almost every one of them had a connection to breast cancer. That alone is sad, but it motivated me even more to walk for those who also had loved ones battling or had battled the disease.”

Shelly helped her fundraising cause by casting a wide net for her initial email ask with a link to her page, along with a write up about Angela and a picture of “my little sister hero.” She also writes a 3-Day blog and shares that along with thank you cards to all her supporters to help them feel like they were there for her journey along the 60 miles.

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When she started Team Titster in her third year on the 3-Day, Shelly expanded her fundraising email list and worked on her social media to raise even more. She targeted her competitive spirit and eventually raised more than $2,000 more than her first year. She was also the #7 Top Fundraiser for the Twin Cities 3-Day.

This success is no surprise to Angela, who has always been inspired and supported by their sisterhood.

“Shelly has always been my role model, and is someone that I’m inspired to be like. She is always the first person I want to talk to when I’m having a bad day, but more importantly, I want to talk to her in my great days.”

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The love is certainly mutual, with Shelly calling Angela a super hero.

“Angie is small in stature but big in personality, perseverance and mostly in heart. She is feisty and fun, outgoing and stubborn, and those are all things we have in common. […] I realize that I have the best sister in the world. She doesn’t judge me, she’s been there for me when others have not been, and I am so proud of her in every way possible. Angie is my heart.”

That heart is going to finally experience the 3-Day for the first time this year. Angela will be making the trip from Chicago to the Twin Cities 3-Day in 2017 to cheer on Team Titster, which Shelly hopes to grow this year as well.

“I’m excited to be there the first time to cheer on my sister and Team Titster!” Angela enthuses. “I’m also happy to be able to volunteer and see the 3-Day. I’m thrilled and a bit nervous for the emotional experience but more importantly, I can’t wait to see and listen to the inspiring stories, and to hold the hands of Team Titster and fellow walkers.

“I know this walk means a lot to Shelly, and I know that every mile she walks, she truly is walking in my shoes to take some of the pain away. I’ve always looked up to my sister. She has more determination, heart and spirit than anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve also come to realize that those qualities are what inspires me to fight harder every day.”

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Shelly echoes that determination, saying that the 3-Day is “emotional (lots of crying, both happy and heart wrenching), challenging (walking and training to walk 60 miles is no easy feat), and unforgettable (experiences and memories that are priceless and make you want to come back).”

Both Angela and Shelly will continue to come back as walkers, volunteers or supporters, until a cure is found.

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“There is still no cure for breast cancer,” Shelly states simply. “That in itself gives me purpose and determination to keep doing the walks. My favorite button on my 3-Day water pack is ‘Every Blister Saves a Sister.’ I am prone to blisters, no matter how much training I do, (last year, I had 11 by the end of Day 3) so walking until there is a cure is something I feel like I can do, and will try to keep doing until there is no more breast cancer. Blisters do not hurt, physically or emotionally, as much as cancer does. And of course, my sister inspires me, not just to do the walk, but she inspires me every day.”

The power of sisterhood on the 3-Day is real, and every step makes a difference.