Best Friends and 3-Dayers: Meet Christi K. and Her Bestie from Cassie’s Cups

There are a few things that almost everyone loves. Chocolate and best friends are two of those things.

For Christi Kokaisel, chocolate and besties go hand and hand. Christi and her best friend Cassie walked side by side in more than five 3-Day journeys in the Twin Cities with lots of chocolate close at hand.

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Cassie was diagnosed with breast cancer at 24 years old in 2010. She was diagnosed two more times over the next six years, but that never stopped her from being a mom, friend, and 3-Day team leader for Cassie’s Cups. Over the years, the team size ebbed and flowed, but their love of chocolate and each other never wavered. Christi says this was largely due to Cassie’s strength and passion.

“She was kind of that perfect best friend. She was very opinionated but always very sweet and caring. She would remember things like me having a presentation at work and call me on that day and ask about it. Things that other people don’t remember,” said Christi.

“She was also very proud that she always went into work and lived a normal life, even when she was going through treatment. She wanted everything to be as normal as it could be.”

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Cassie, Christi and their team are anything but normal, however, and in the best way.

Now well-known at the Twin Cities 3-Day, they always have peanut butter cups, Cassie’s favorite, on hand to keep their team, and others, going for every one of the 60 miles. Christi explains that even though she and Cassie jokingly referred to the 3-Day as their “second job,” they really saw the 3-Day as another family.

“As soon as you get to Opening Ceremony, and you step out there, you just become part of this giant family. You’re with a mass amount of people, but you’re all there for the same reason. Over those three days, it’s so motivating. As hard and sad as it can be, meeting all these people with stories to tell, you really do become a family.”

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Christi and all of Cassie’s Cups leaned on that 3-Day family last year, when they lost Cassie just a few weeks before the walk. Her father was able to walk in her place, and her absence was felt throughout the 3-Day, but Christi said it couldn’t have gone any other way.

“It would not have seemed right to not continue to do the walk. […] Despite the horrible things we had been through, there was something uplifting about fundraising and why we were walking. It was a renewed energy to pull it off, and it was a very inspiring event for us.”

This inspiration was especially important for the new walkers on their large team. Christi says that is what their team prides themselves on: never-ending support.

“We had some people last year who weren’t in the best shape but really wanted to walk. And I always tell people to just set goals for themselves. If you want to walk 10 miles a day, there are buses. They will take care of you! Set personal goals, and so long as you fundraise, you’ll be good. […] You’re there for the right reason, and you’ve fundraised, so do what you can.”

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Every little bit helps, and everything is encouraged on this team. Christi says questions about fundraising are one of the main concerns she still sees for all her team members, but she always encourages people not to get discouraged too early. Anything is possible!

“Especially for new walkers, you are tapping into a new family and group of friends so don’t underestimate the power of simply asking for donations. Sadly, everyone has a connection, and to know that someone is doing this walk is very inspiring. Especially with new walkers, you can see people do most of their fundraising just by asking.”

“We really do work as a team though. Once someone hits their goal, and someone else hasn’t, then I keep pushing for them. We really make sure that down to the last minute, we are pushing for everyone else. We lean on our team.”

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This year, Christi is once again hoping to be the largest team in the Twin Cities, but she’s also fulfilling a long-time goal of her and Cassie’s by walking in the San Diego 3-Day as well.

Last year, “it was really motivating to see how all of Cassie’s network of family and friends came together and did this.”

So this year, even if she won’t be able to walk alongside her best friend, she’ll always Cassie in her heart…along with peanut butter cups.

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An Outsider’s Guide to the 3-Day: If you’re new, what can you expect?

 

What is the 3-Day? It’s been called everything from “The Pink Bubble” to “Pinklandia” and more. Those who have walked or crewed or even seen the 3-Day experience each have their own feelings about the 60-mile life-changing journey. Those who haven’t can only look forward to the 3 days that lie ahead of them.  If you want a sneak peak of what’s to come (and who wouldn’t?), we are giving you a look from the outside in.

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On the 3-Day, you can expect…

To be challenged

For some people, training is the toughest part. For others, it’s fundraising. No matter who you are, raising money for a good cause and training for a good long walk, all while making new friends or working with existing ones, can be a lot to put on a to-do list. However, part of joining the 3-Day family is to challenge yourself! It’s in challenging yourself that you grow, find new strengths, and create a support system you’ll have long after you walk.

One tip is to identify what most scares or challenges you about the 3-Day, and really focus in on that. Stick to a training schedule and get a work out buddy to motivate you. Give yourself small fundraising goals and reward yourself when you hit them. Make new friends on your team by the end of the weekend. Whatever helps you, go for it and grow! Don’t forget that your coaches is an excellent resource for you if you need support in any way – you can find them on their Facebook pages, separated by walk, on these Facebook Event Pages, on our website at The3Day.org/Coaches or by calling 800-996-3DAY.

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To make lots of new friends

In speaking with coaches, walkers, and crew, everyone has a story of someone they have met and connected with on the walk. Some meet on training walks, others with a random tent-mate, at the dining table or along the route. The welcoming spirit is pervasive throughout the whole 3-Day experience, so lean in and go for it! Walk up to a stranger. Compliment someone’s shoes or tutu or team T-shirts. You never know, you could be meeting your brand new bestie.

To feel a whole lot of emotion

Yes, even those who claim to “never cry” might shed a tear or two, especially during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. That’s okay! Emotion is welcomed and encouraged at the 3-Day. You will meet survivors, people currently battling breast cancer, and people who have lost loved ones. Maybe you are one of those groups of people. Maybe that’s why you walk. No matter the reason that brought you to the 3-Day, you’ll likely get hit with all the feels on the walk – and we embrace it, because the 3-Day is healing.

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To be tired and sore

Walking 60 miles is no joke. No matter how fit you are, this will take a toll on your body. That is why it’s important to properly train, continuously hydrate, and pay attention to your body during each step. Also remember that there are Sweep Vans patrolling the entire route that can take you to the next rest stop, or camp, if you have walked as far as you can. We know you can do it, and we know you know yourself and just how far you can go. You got this!

To spread the love

Once you’ve walked the walk, you’ll want to talk the talk too. Tell your friends, your family, your doctors, teachers, dog walkers, book club, financial advisor, and anyone you can! Spreading the 3-Day love will help you recruit new team members, expand your fundraising list, and put smiles on people’s faces. You can also spread the love online by interacting with our community on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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To come back again

One of the greatest part of the 3-Day is seeing people year after year, and often times in multiple cities each year. Once you get hit with the 3-Day “bug,” you’ll probably want to come back for more. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself signing up for your tenth walk before you even know it! We’ll be happy to have you back, and welcome you into the 3-Day family with open arms every time.

What else would you add to our list for people new to the 3-Day to expect? Let’s hear it!

Valentine’s Day Themed Fundraising Ideas

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With one week until Valentine’s Day, the countdown to love is on! Aside from all the fun and romance of the holiday, this time of year is also perfect for 3-Day fundraising efforts. Spread the love, and help raise funds for the fight to end breast cancer, by tailoring your fundraising efforts to the holiday. We have some ideas from our team to get you started!

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Send out unique fundraising letters:

Take your 3-Day fundraising letters up a notch with a special Valentine donation request! These pasta-decorated cards are easy to make and will put a smile on everyone’s face.

You can also sell the cards for people to send as their own Valentines.

Spread love you can wear:

Make and sell festive paper flowers or hair bows that you can wear throughout your 3-Day walk. Encourage people to buy a pin or bow and then you can take photos of yourself sporting the donations over the course of 60 miles.

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Try some puppy love:

If you have a pooch, set up a dog kissing booth in your front yard! You can always do your own, personal kissing booth too, but people will love a kiss from your furry friend. Accept donations for a smooch, and put them towards your 3-Day goal. Thanks to coach Joanne Taylor for this fun idea!

Or kisses of a different kind:

Eileen Barnick, Twin Cities 3-Day coach, suggests filling small mason jars with a variety of Hershey’s Kiss flavors and selling them as sweet Valentine fundraisers. You can even decorate the jars and accompany them with notes like:

“Hugs and Kisses just for you!”

This idea can also apply to chocolate heart shaped candy, cinnamon heart-shaped candy or even candy hearts (which come with ready-made notes).

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Photo via Martha Stewart

Get your foodie on:

If you’re an expert baker, or general culinary extraordinaire, you can try any number of love-filled cupcakes and host a bake sale next weekend…right before Valentine’s Day! If you’re not as comfortable in the kitchen, you can still spread sweetness with this Oreo cookie bark recipe.

You can then take a leaf out of Michigan coach Ann Love’s book and ask for an extra donation to hand deliver the baked goods to loved ones for the holiday. Baked goods are the best kind of snail mail!

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Personalize your Participant Center emails:

There is a special email template in your Participant Center with a Valentine-themed fundraising message and photo. Log in to your Participant Center, click Compose Email in the right-hand menu, then select “Create Your Own Message” and the “Valentine’s Day Fundraising Ask” layout. Add your personal message and a sweet Valentine’s note and photo will appear at the top of your emails.

How are you celebrating the holiday? Tell us your fundraising ideas, or just spread some love, in the comments!

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