Meet Northern Nippys, Twin Cities 3-Day Team

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Twin Cities 3-Dayers take their walking and training seriously all year long, even in the dead of winter temperatures. Minnesota’s freezing temperatures bring teams together early in their 3-Day journey, whether that team is two people or 32 strong. One team, The Northern Nippys, has been both a duo and an army of more than 30 people, and through the years they have become a Twin Cities 3-Day staple thanks to creative fundraising and boundless recruitment energy.

This year, the Nippys, led by Team Captain Laura Lamson, are aiming to raise $100,000 as a team of at least 40 people, and already have 39 team members behind that goal.

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“I’d always dreamed of a big team! And then a friend of mine signed up and she said, “If we have ten, then we should go for 15!” And I said, “Why don’t we go for 20?” Lamson explained.

“It turned into such a positive peer pressure situation from there and escalated up, and that was the year we had 32 people. It was just amazing! A lot more work, but a lot more fun came with it. After that the numbers changed, but this year is my 10th year walking and my friend’s 10th year as a survivor, so we have vowed to raise $100,000.”

Such a bold goal means recruiting new team members, hosting many group meetings for support, and a whole lot of fundraising.

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Recruiting was the easy part for Lamson, who welcomes anyone and everyone onto the Nippys. A few team members signed up immediately after the 2016 3-Day finished, and more soon followed thanks to word-of-mouth through various friend groups, and social media promotion.

A good support system is key for any team, especially one with lots of new members, and the Nippys have it in spades.

“We have team meet and greets to make it fun! I make a video from all of last year’s photos to give them a feel for the 3-Day and make them comfortable right from the start,” Lamson says. “Then, we talk about why you’re walking and who we’re walking for, and just keep it positive! We do ongoing team meetings and brain storming, and see what we can do for fundraising and support. We also have our team Facebook page for people to ask questions, and share ideas or tips from past walks.”

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For veteran walkers like Lamson and a few of the other team members, that means sharing everything from their packing list to their fundraising letters.

Even with a large team, fundraising can be a daunting task, especially for new walkers with a big goal.

“So many of my walkers are intimidated by [fundraising] but I tell them that on average you need about 50 people to donate.”

Getting those donations just depends on what each walker is comfortable with. Lamson has developed a list of more than 500 people she mails letters to each year, and continually reminds new teammates that “it doesn’t hurt to ask.”

The team also runs one fundraiser with a local restaurant and another with a local bowling alley, distributing the proceeds throughout team members who need an extra boost towards their goal. In the past, the team has also done garage sales, dog washes and more.

“Every little thing we do brings fun and brings us together. The more we do, the more it makes us unified as a family.”

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This feeling of family culminates every year on the 3-Day itself.

“You are just in this happy little mode no matter what happens,” Lamson recounts. “It’s how we all wish the world would be. It’s just the kindness and generosity that comes out in everyone, and you feel like a family. The more years I walked, the more I knew how important this was. One in eight women are affected and I’ve got to walk for them! You get on the 3-Day high and it’s too fun to walk away from the little 3-Day bubble.”

So every year, the Northern Nippys come back for more of that family love from their team, and their whole Twin Cities community. This year they have a big goal to achieve, but luckily, they also have each other to help them on their journey.

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A Team of Two: Meet Team Sweet 16

Imagine you’re the mother of a seven-month-old baby. She’s your second child, so you’re familiar with the joy of motherhood—the chubby hands grasping around your pinky, the sweet coos, the late-night awakenings where you’re overcome with exhaustion—but you know that it’s all worth it. You’ve been nursing fine for six months, and then on the seventh month, your daughter suddenly stops nursing out of one breast. You go to the doctor and are told it’s common, just a typical nursing infection like mastitis. You’re given an antibiotic… but it doesn’t get better. You go back in, and by then, the skin on your breast has changed in appearance. You are told you have stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer.

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This is Laurie and Miranda’s story. Laurie is Miranda’s mother, a soft-spoken woman with a bright smile. Laurie has walked the Susan G. Komen 3-Day three times; and while every Komen 3-Day is a special experience, this third time is celebrating her sixteen-year anniversary of survival. “I did a year of chemotherapy and radiation all while she was a baby,” Laurie says, as Miranda stands next to her. “I had a double mastectomy, a hysterectomy… all while she was a baby.”

Miranda wasn’t just in Dallas/Fort Worth cheering her mother on. She was walking for the first time, celebrating her sixteenth birthday with a sixty-mile walk. “My mom is a survivor and I lost my dance teacher to breast cancer. Breast cancer has had a huge impact on my life, and I wanted to do something to help,” she said. “It’s just us two, mom and daughter… and this is why we call this the Sweet 16.”

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Being a teenage walker presents unique challenges. “I’m a junior [in high school], and I have a lot of homework to do and honors classes. It’s tough to be here, but it’s absolutely worth it. It’s a rewarding experience and one that I wanted to have.”

As a three-time walker, Laurie found that fundraising was much easier than she thought it would be. “People want to support you, because breast cancer impacts everyone. Everybody knows somebody,” she said. Laurie and Miranda sewed ribbons and sold them as donations. Donors were invited to write on the ribbons with the names of people they loved who were affected by breast cancer.

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Laurie and Miranda were tired on day two of their walk, but they felt strong in their conviction to walk. “When you’re with this group of people, you don’t feel the pain. It’s nothing like the fight you go through with breast cancer.”

What’s it like to be a sixteen year survivor, walking sixty miles with your sixteen-year-old daughter? “I had a 10% survival rate. I didn’t think I’d be here. It’s incredible to do this with her – so that hopefully, one day, she won’t have to do this with her daughter.”

 

2016 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Award Winners and Honorees

Saturday evening’s camp show at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is all about celebration: walkers celebrate completing an amazing 40 miles, crew members high-five over giving hours upon hours of service to their fellow 3-Dayers, and everyone celebrates each other. It’s true that every walker and crew member could rightfully be given a medal for their accomplishments, but since that isn’t really possible, we do like to take time at the end of Day 2 to recognize some walkers and crew members for outstanding achievements. We were pleased to award the following outstanding walkers, crew members and teams in Dallas/Fort Worth:

Top Individual Fundraiser

Our top fundraiser this year, Liz Fagan, raised an impressive $12,011 this season. In her three years with the 3-Day, she has raised over $17,000. Liz Fagan is an emergency room physician who won the EmCare Commitment to Care award, which is voted on by patients. You’re truly dedicated, Liz.

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Top Team Fundraiser

We’re thrilled to announce that Top Team Fundraising award winner is Pink Soles in Motion, who have raised an astonishing $150,000 this year, with 85 team members! In their amazing 11 years as a 3-Day team, they have raised $1,469,646. WOW!

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Top Crew Fundraiser

Our Top Crew Fundraiser this year is Pamella Whitham, who has participated in 13 events. In her time with the 3-Day, she has raised over $55,000 for Susan G. Komen. Pamella loves Paris and her home in Malibu, where she is a realtor. She loves time with her husband, children, garden, ducks, and chickens, and especially, her eight grandchildren. You’re a star, Pamella!

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Top Training Walk Leader: Mary Tengra

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Join us in congratulating Mary! Every year you’ll see Mary in a new outfit and hat on the event. She’s worn everything from a birthday cake to a sphere of pink Styrofoam cups on her head. Her talent and creativity keeps people searching for her outrageous outfits at Opening Ceremony every year. Mary is a 20-year breast cancer survivor; she has been a dedicated team captain of NO WALKER LEFT BEHIND since 2011 and welcomes new walkers to her team every year. She’s a no-nonsense leader telling new people, “be prepared to participate in group fundraiser and tell your family they’re going to be just fine without you while you’re out training with us.” Mary has a way of embracing walkers like family and as her team name reflects, there are NO WALKERS LEFT BEHIND. One of her teammates said: “I’ve been walking w/ Mary for 5 years and we have never gotten lost, turned around maybe, walked longer than we planned maybe, skipped a couple turns maybe but never lost….” Here’s what a few other teammates have said about Mary:

  • “When you say to Mary, ‘I thought we were not doing hills today!’ her response is, ‘this is not a hill it’s an incline.’”
  • “And finally when planning our 3-day décor, nothing for Mary is too big, too bright, too over-the-top, has too many feathers, has too much bling or is just way too uncomfortable.”
  • “Mary, we love you and Thanks for being more than a Captain; Thanks for being a true friend!”

Milestone Award and Local Impact Award

These two other special awards are presented to participants who stand out and shine extra brightly in a sky of very bright 3-Day stars. The Milestone Award is given at each event to one participant who has an extraordinary history of involvement with the 3-Day, and the Local Impact Award recognizes a participant in each 3-Day city who has been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day in their community throughout the year.

Milestone Award Recipient: Catrina Gibson

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Catrina has participated in 11 events and this year will make 12 & 13, being in Dallas/Forth Worth and San Diego. She has raised over $59,000 and leads the team Pink Soles in Motion. Her dedication to Komen and the memory of her beautiful mother who she lost in 2000 has given her the drive and determination to never give up when it comes to fundraising and recruiting walkers to join the fight. A verse that she lives by is: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9). Catrina, thank you for never giving up and coming back to raise money and walk for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day year after year. Here are some fun facts about Catrina:

    • When Catrina arrives to an early morning training walk and there’s a great song on the radio, you can catch her jamming in her car until it’s over.
    • She tortured herself for five days of Orange Theory Fitness workouts for a great looking t-shirt.
    • She has mastered removing the under layer of clothing while walking.

Teammate Sandy Sauceda said about Cat, “One of the best memories I have with Cat at the 3-day is when she convinced me to walk wearing our Cure Bear costumes.  This is not like me but I had so much fun.  She brings that out in people. We walked more together as a group that year and chanted and laughed so much!  She Inspires! She has been a TWL for 8 years and has lead most of our walks, especially the 18 miler (nobody is crazy about that) but she is always game.  She gets all going and makes sure that we have what we need (walker stalkers) to make it.  She is dedicated! She gives even when it is hard. Life gets crazy and being a captain of a large team is stressful. Catrina is always there taking on more than her share to make the team successful.  She cares!”

Local Impact Award Winner: Dr. Sheryl Cowan

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Dr. Cowan has been a 3-Day participant since 2009 and has walked in 9 events up to this year. She registered for all seven of the 2016 cities and raised the money to participate in every one. Due to her commitment to her community and patients, she will attend four in person and walk the rest around the city of Plano where she lives. She has raised over $48,000 and contributes the generous donations she receives from her colleagues to her team mates on STEPS, which stands for Screening, Treatment, Educations and Programs. Sheryl held a board position with the Komen Dallas County Affiliate and her commitment to Komen and breast health never waivers. She has created an amazing, family-oriented atmosphere with Team STEPS as well as others and has rallied the troops to not only help each other, but she has led the charge to help the local community, especially during the 2015 tornadoes that swept through Texas.

Here’s a little bit about Sheryl from her teammates: “Sheryl carries business cards with her at all times. Wherever she goes she finds a connection with people through health or fitness or a family member touched by cancer. She gives them her card as a personal contact if they are in need of medical help, as a way to tie them in with Team STEPS through our Facebook page, or to offer an opportunity to walk the 3-Day in honor of someone with breast cancer. Sheryl is very much a believer that everyone has something to contribute to a team so that the team can achieve its goal. The goal of the 3-Day is to raise funds and walk 60 miles. She connects people who need help with fundraising, people who have aches and pains that need stretching, solo walkers who need motivation. She finds that strength in each person which is why our members keep coming back. They feel needed and appreciated. “Although we began as a group of walkers under the name Team STEPS, we have grown to be a team of walkers passionate about “saving lives and curing diseases”. Our training walks, under Sheryl’s leadership, are inclusive of teams from all over Dallas and its suburbs. We consider everyone an important part of the 3-Day family no matter the team they register under and invite them to train with us. Sheryl has said that she is not the “cutesie/tutu type” personality. Her team was built to train any walker who wants to walk the 60 miles to reach that goal.”

Please join us in giving a round of applause and a high 5 to all of these extraordinary 3-Day participants. With your help, we’re 60 miles closer to ending breast cancer forever!