The 2016 Susan G. Komen Twin Cities 3-Day Honors Our Opening Ceremony Speakers

We began our 2016 Twin Cities Komen 3-Day with an inspiring and beautiful Opening Ceremony. Although the skies were gray, the enthusiastic spirit couldn’t be dampened by the weather. Walkers, crew members and supporters joined their hearts and hopes in the shared promise of bringing about the end of breast cancer, one footstep at a time.

As part of the Ceremony, we were honored to welcome some special 3-Day participants to the stage, where they shared their own inspirations—both heart-warming and heartbreaking—for being part of the 3-Day. Hear their compelling and touching reasons for being a part of our 2016 walk. #WeAreThe3Day

Kathy Pepski – My Sister

I am walking with and for my sister, along with her husband. My sister is a two-time breast cancer survivor and this is our second time walking. We are here to honor her strength and passion for beating this disease. She is my best friend and my inspiration. I’m Kathy and I AM the 3-Day.

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Carley Cummings – My Mother

I walk in memory of my mother, Laurie, who fought breast cancer for 12 years. Cancer took her away from us in 2014, hours after my sister and I crossed the 3-Day finish line. Even though my mother lost her battle, it does not mean this war is over. I’m Carley and I AM the 3-Day.

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Ellen Race – My Friend

I walk for my best friend Molly, who passed away just 3 months ago, after an inspiring 6-year struggle. While she was only 39, she was given more time with her 3 children thanks to a Komen-researched chemo. This year, Molly’s Army walks in our fourth 3-Day because we believe in a CURE! I’m Ellen and I AM the 3-Day.

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 Rebecca Kalamen – Myself

I walk in memory of my great-grandmother Sophie, my grandmother Rose, my Aunt Vikki, my Aunt Sharon, and my Dad Gene. I walk for myself. I am a 5-time 3-Day walker and a 10-year survivor. I walk so that my 11-year old son Zach doesn’t have to. I’m Rebecca and I AM the 3-Day.

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Abby Eystad – My Grandmother

We walk in memory of my Grandma, Louise, who battled breast cancer for 20 years before it took her from us.

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John Schwartz – My Daughter

I walk for my daughter Cassie. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at 24 years old. She passed away on May 2, just a couple months short of her 31st birthday. I walk for her and for all those who have breast cancer. Cassie and her best friend, Christi, started Cassie’s Cups and we’re in our 7th year to help find a cure. I’m John and I AM THE 3-DAY.

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2016 Michigan 3-Day Opening Ceremony Speakers—We Are the 3-Day

The 2016 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® began this morning in Michigan with a beautiful and stirring Opening Ceremony. Walkers, crew members and supporters joined their hearts and hopes in the shared promise of bringing about the end of breast cancer, one footstep at a time.

As part of the Ceremony, we were honored to welcome some special 3-Day participants to the stage, where they shared their own inspirations—both heart-warming and heartbreaking—for being part of the 3-Day. #WeAreThe3Day

 

“This morning, I carry the ‘My Father’ flag in memory of my dad, who I lost last week. I inherited so much of my character and drive from him, so while I walk in remembrance of those we have lost to breast cancer and in honor of those who have survived, I dedicate this 3-Day to my dad. I’m Cathy and I AM the 3-Day.”IMG_2189

 

“This is my sixth 3-Day. I walk in memory of my friend Jenny and my mom’s friend Kathy. I walk to continue the battle our friends have lost, and to honor all the friends everywhere who have traveled the same journey. I’m Heidi and I AM the 3-Day.”IMG_2195

 

“My aunt. My mom. My aunt again. My cousin. My mom again. Then my cousin again. I can’t stand the thought of the next generation of my family going through this and losing more than they already have. My cousin’s 48th birthday would have been last Friday and that is why I am here today. I’m Amy and I AM the 3-Day.”IMG_2197

 

“I walk for those who can’t walk. I walk for my coworker, a breast cancer survivor of 17 years. I walk for the sister of a coworker who has breast cancer. I walk in memory of my cousin, who passed away at 37. I walk to bring awareness to women and men, young and old, everywhere I go. I’m Charmaine and I AM the 3-Day.”IMG_2202

 

“When I was young, I promised my mother that when I was old enough, I would join her on the 3-Day. This year is that year! The 3-Day has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. Now I can finally take part in this incredible journey as her teammate. I asked to carry the My Children flag today, in the hope that one day, any children I might have can live in a world without breast cancer. I’m Logan and I AM the 3-Day.”IMG_2210

 

“I am walking this year because my mom passed away on March 19th. I’m walking to honor her strength and grace and to raise money to help others. I’m Blake and I AM the 3-Day.”IMG_2211

 

Together, we are strong. Together, we can defeat breast cancer. Together, we are the 3-Day.

Flying the Flags of Hope

Today is Flag Day in the United States, and while we all should honor the Stars and Stripes in our hearts, here at the 3-Day, we have some flags of our own that carry very special meaning too.

At our Opening and Closing Ceremonies and in camp, we are surrounded by flags and banners with inspirational words and phrases, giving us motivation, encouragement and hope. One of the most powerful moments of each Closing Ceremony is when we raise the final flag over a sea of triumphant walkers, crew members and survivors, signifying our commitment to a world without breast cancer.12031392_10156039901120392_5626771338758218186_o 13268374_10156909268860392_6896089530611072979_o

We also raise a very special flag in camp on the first two nights of each 3-Day event. This flag is carried into camp, amidst incredible fanfare, by the last walker to arrive each day.

It’s a beautiful tradition on the 3-Day. Instead of celebrating the first walker to make it across the finish line like most other races do, we instead ignite everyone already in camp to come out and cheer in the last walker. With their arrival, our 3-Day family is complete for another night.

So to tie in with Flag Day, we gathered some thoughts from a few of our last walkers from the 2015 events, sharing what that experience and that special flag meant to them.

Kathryn Labbe, who lives in Mesa, AZ, was the last walker (along with her teammates) on Day 1 of the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day last year. Kathryn has participated in the 3-Day every year since 2006 (except 2014), and will be walking this year in the Twin Cities. When asked how that Day 1 was for her last year, she said, “My day was long, hot and exhausting, but fun. It was great fun being last walkers.  We were so happy to have made it to camp. We didn’t care if we were last.” Kathryn reminds us, “It’s a walk, not a race.”

Kathryn (far right) and teammates

Kathryn (far right) and teammates

At the 2015 Atlanta 3-Day, Julie Hipple, a five-time walker and a stage IV breast cancer survivor, was our inspirational camp speaker on Friday night, sharing her experience with metastatic disease and Komen’s impact on her treatment. On Saturday, Julie continued to inspire her fellow Atlanta 3-Dayers by raising the last walker flag at the end of Day 2. She describes that day as “Awesome, exhausting, memorable. My feet were sore from kicking cancer’s butt all day!” For someone who has had such an emotional and personal connection with breast cancer, the experience of walking into camp and raising the flag was, as Julie put it, “Amazing! Being a stage IV survivor, every step is an accomplishment. Walking into camp was like going home…to my 3-Day family!” Julie will be walking this year in San Diego for the first time. She also shared this very important message: “I always support the 3-Day event specifically because 75% [of net proceeds raised] goes to support research, which is literally keeping me alive. The treatment I’m on now is a new drug that is a result of Komen research dollars at work!”

Julie (middle)

Julie (middle)

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On Day 3, walkers end at the Participant Finish Area before heading into Closing as one big group, but we still announce and celebrate the arrival of the last walkers. At the Philadelphia 3-Day last year, the last walker on Day 3 was none other than Aubrey Cushing, our very own Seattle 3-Day coach. Philly was her 8th 3-Day (she’ll be walking there again this year for #9), and she says this about her condition as she neared the end of her 60 miles last year: “It was so hard. My feet were blistered and bleeding. I finally decided to take off my shoes and walk barefoot the last five miles into closing.” Aubrey told me about what continued to push her through to the end: “I loved the Philadelphia community, so that made it much easier to endure the mileage. Besides that, I had a great teammate that walked almost every step of the way with me. Towards the end of the day, the three of us on my team made sure we held hands and crossed the finish line together. My husband, two sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, nieces and nephew were all there, plus all of the crew and other walkers. It was the most magnificent moment ever. I was walking for a friend of the family who was going through a difficult battle with breast cancer. All weekend long when it got tough to walk, I kept thinking, “Vanessa Strong, Vanessa Strong, Vanessa Strong.” Vanessa is a thriving survivor today and I am so inspired by her strength when things got tough.”

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Aubrey (center), hand in hand with her teammates.

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Whether you’re the first walker to finish, the last walker, or one of the thousands somewhere in between, every step you take is bringing about tremendous impact and making a difference. And whether you raise the flag or cheer for someone else who does, every one of us can share in celebrating the small victory of being one day closer to ending breast cancer.