After her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, Rachel B. decided she wanted to do something to make a difference. When she saw an advertisement for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in a newspaper, she knew she had found that “something.” Now, 19 years later, she has raised more than $250,000!
How long have you been participating in the 3-Day and how many events have you done?
This year, Dallas/Fort Worth will be my 29th Susan G. Komen 3-Day event. I’ve participated since 2005 and have done 27 60-mile walks including 3-Day Nation, and I also crewed one year. I am fortunate to have walked in every city the 3-Day has ever been in.
What is your connection to breast cancer?
My mom is a survivor and that’s why I got involved. My mom has walked, crewed and cheered for the 3-Day. Since my first event, I’ve had many friends get diagnosed with breast cancer.
Why do you think it’s important to raise money for this cause?
I don’t think I understood the importance of fundraising when I walked my first 3-Day in 2005. I did understand that I couldn’t sit idly by when my mom had gone through radiation treatments to beat breast cancer. In 2004, you didn’t talk about breast cancer. Now we talk about it, which allows for more specific research and treatments. We’ve seen the advances in treatments and the importance of educating everyone about annual mammograms (Have you scheduled yours?).
We raise money to help fund research. You can’t provide research or help to those in need without money. When people work together, you can raise a lot of money and have a greater impact in a shorter period of time.
What makes you go above and beyond the fundraising minimum?
My first year at the 3-Day, my younger sister raised over $3,000 in five days with less than ten people, so she showed me what was possible. I naturally set large goals that push me to raise more money or sign up for more events. In 2012, I remember setting a goal that I wanted to earn the big tent that a sponsor used to provide to the top fundraiser. That year, they changed the reward, and the top fundraiser got something different. I was proud to be top fundraiser, but I really wanted that big tent! The sponsor representative surprised me with it when I arrived at camp. What a selfless gift, and an amazing representation of the Pink Bubble! I know it’s crazy that I was excited about a tent, but we stayed at camp in tents for the first 10 years. Once we began earning a free hotel for our fundraising, our team enjoyed the comfy bed and dry conditions, so we have been glamping.
We are an Ohio team, and therefore, the incentive to earn a flight and hotel motivated our team to be super fundraisers. Some years our team is small, and one year we had 17 people participate on the Bouncin’ Buckeyes team. Raising extra money allows us to help our teammates so they reach their fundraising requirement.
I see a number like this: $281,064 raised and say to myself, I can reach $300,000.
What are your best fundraising tips?
Keep asking. Email and send physical letters with your donation form. Send reminders, because we all get busy. Create a sense of urgency (like, two days before the deadline). Share your story. There are many worthwhile charities and the people that donate have a set amount of money. By sharing your passion, they will donate to you and your efforts. Send thank you cards with your link for the following year, so you kick off fundraising for your next walk.
My older sister worked for a company that offered matching gift donations and her donations helped us tremendously. We are so grateful for her generosity!
Any advice you have for those struggling to meet their fundraising minimum?
Set goals. Make it fun! Remember why you signed up. If you are speaking negatively, change your mindset. Don’t get discouraged when someone doesn’t donate. I have extended family members and friends that have been diagnosed that haven’t donated to me. I’ve also had strangers and people that I barely know who have donated to me. Refer to the fundraising tips on the 3-Day website. Share your pictures from the 3-Day and from your training walks. Be sure to include the link to your donation page. If someone has to turn to Google to find out how to donate, they may not take the extra steps to make a donation.
What impact has being on a team made for you? Would you advise other walkers to join a team?
I’ve been part of a team of two and a team of 17. They are different experiences, and all bring great joy. I’ve been walking with one of my teammates, Heather, since my second walk and with another teammate, Bobbi, since my third walk. We have people that have walked once and some that have walked and crewed multiple years. All of these situations were exactly what we needed as a team for that year. Life takes us in different directions and even though we can’t all gather to walk the 3-Day, we have amazing support from those that have walked with us over the years.
I have walked in 3-Day events where people walk alone, but they really don’t walk alone. You always see people say “hi” as they pass by or even walk with them. It’s an amazing community. New walkers should try to train with others. If I had not met Dancing Lady and her team in 2005, I don’t believe I would have been set up for success. As we did training walks, we learned what shoes and clothes work and which ones do not. Training alone can be challenging to stay motivated for a 5–8-hour walk, but if you are a solo walker, you will never be alone during those 60 miles.
What does the 3-Day/Pink Bubble mean to you?
I look forward to the “Pink Bubble” each year. It’s a few days a year where people gather that have made sacrifices to end breast cancer. We are an elite group that sees value in improving lives around the world. Remember, if it were easy, everyone would do it. We show up so that others can have moments with their families.
We are a loving and inspiring “Pink Bubble” and I only wish I lived closer to more of my 3-Day family. Since we can go a year or more between seeing each other, it makes the 3-Day even more special. Thank you, social media, for bringing us together throughout the year!
What’s something you want the Pink Bubble to know about you?
I love animals (I have two golden retrievers and two cats). Our team always stops to pet dogs. If I see a snake on the road I will jump and run away (happened on a training walk). I love taking vacations with my mom, two sisters, nephew and friends. I love to visit National Parks!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’ve worked very hard to raise the money that I have for Susan G. Komen. I wouldn’t be successful without my family, team and our supporters over the years. My older sister has walked but we all love that she is now our mobile cheer station and supports us on route. To date, our Bouncin’ Buckeyes team has raised over $654,974 since 2005. I had no idea when our team of three signed up in 2005 what this would turn into. We each make a difference! Thank you!
For more inspiring stories and fundraising tips from our other $250,000 lifetime fundraisers, click here.