We had such an amazing time with our 3-Day family at the 2021 New England 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off on August 15th. One big reason was getting to hear from a couple of our inspiring 3-Day walkers. Elke Franklin spoke at our celebration gathering and had all of us tearing up. If you didn’t get a chance to hear her speak, here is her story, in her own words.
Why did I choose to walk the 2020 New England 3-Day? I was finally ready…
In July of 2015 I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I was 37 years old, had a 1 year-old and a 4 year-old, worked full-time, as did my husband. By mid-August I was starting the first of 16 rounds of chemo (which given a few complications took closer to 24 weeks to complete) and facing a bi-lateral mastectomy after that. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t be totally independent. I had to rely on the doctors to take care of me and my wonderful support system of friends and family to help see me through it.
Luckily by the next spring, I was finished with treatment and I was ready to give back. However, I underestimated the physical toll the treatment took on me. So I let my body heal. Going into the next year, I felt physically strong again, but emotionally I was a giant mess. Luckily, the hospital had awesome social workers and therapists to assist. I couldn’t figure out why I was always anxious, mad, or sad.
I did not mention this when I spoke at the kick-off because I would’ve seriously started crying, but I lost a friend to breast cancer in the fall of 2018. She was a survivor when I was diagnosed, but as I was recovering, her cancer recurred with a vengeance. So my biggest fear at the time was playing out in front of me.
I mentioned to my therapist about “maybe having PTSD or something.” He said, “Let’s think about it as ‘post-traumatic growth’ instead.” So I did. And I let myself feel my feelings and heal emotionally from the diagnosis and treatment. I still don’t know how my friends and family put up with me during that roller coaster.
Fast forward to the fall of 2019. One day, I just felt like “me” again. But a better version of me. So I registered for the 3-Day! I reached out to my girlfriends who saw me through treatment and the following years. Five of them signed up immediately to join my team and those who couldn’t make that sort of commitment made donations. It does feel like that support system came full circle within the last five years. So yes, the 2020 walk would’ve happened on the 5th anniversary of my start of chemo, but it was really more of a coincidence. It just took me that long to fully heal and commit.”
We thank Elke for being so brave and sharing her story at the New England kick-off and again here for you all to read. We’re so inspired by her willingness to talk about one of the very real side-effects of a cancer diagnosis – how it impacts you emotionally. Thank you, Elke! We can’t wait to welcome you and your team to the 2021 New England 3-Day next August!
To hear more inspiring stories like this, you have three more chances by attending our kick-off activities. Our next virtual kick-off is on September 12. RSVP today.
As part of the 2021 New England 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off, we held a fundraising challenge during the week leading up to the Kick-Off, August 10-14. The 3-Dayer who got the greatest number of individual donations during the challenge period won an amazing 3-Day branded prize – a Birdie Box with headphones, a water bottle and a Bluetooth speaker. The winner was Christine Jessen, who received 22 donations in just those five days!
We wanted to know how she did it, and pass her advice and experience on to other 3-Day participants. So we asked her a few questions.
What is your history with the 3-Day? I have been involved with Susan G. Komen 3-Day for three years. My first walk was in Philadelphia in 2018. My second walk was New England in 2019 and I was part of the crew at the Philadelphia 3-Day in 2019. In 2020, I committed to crew New England and walk San Diego. However, due to the pandemic, I have committed to four 20-mile walks.
Why do you walk? I walk as a breast cancer survivor! I walk for my childhood friend Sharon, who continues to fight every damn day! I walk for those we lost, the other survivors and for the many women, men and families who have been affected by this horrible disease.
My connection to the cause came first when my friend Sharon was fundraising for her 3-Day in Florida years ago. Secondly, after my diagnosis with breast cancer, I knew there had to be something I could do to help end this disease. In 2018 it became very clear the path I needed to take when a friend of a friend, Molly, contacted me regarding the 3-Day. It was that moment, I decided to walk my first 3-Day in Philadelphia. I was hooked!
What techniques did you use to raise 22 donations in just five days? The only technique I know is to get your message out to the public. I developed a theme to my four 20-mile walks. I told my story. I set-up a Facebook Fundraiser. I publicly acknowledge those who donated. And I updated my fundraising page on Facebook with my training and fundraising goals.
What are your top three fundraising tips for other 3-Day participants?
Get your message out to the public
Publicly knowledge your supporters
Keep your fundraising page on social media updated
How did you participate in the 2021 Susan G. Komen New England Virtual 3-Day? I participated as a survivor and as walker! I did a brewery-to-brewery walk through four towns and two counties. I made sure I had a little part of the 3-Day with me. Nothing compares to what you accumulate at the various pit stops on the actual 3-Day, so I had Gatorade to drink, I had “Food Should Taste Good” sweet potato tortilla chips, grapes, a PB&J sandwich and I made the rice crispy treats! Funny how I did not eat a lot of what I packed but I squirreled it away just as I do when I’m in the Pink Bubble.
If you’re looking for further inspiration and ideas for your own fundraising efforts, here’s what Christine posted in her Facebook fundraiser:
The 2020 3-Day events have been postponed to next year due to lingering concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. So, this year I have committed to walking 20 miles one Saturday in August, September, October and November.
In honor of what would have been the 2020 Susan G. Komen kick-off event in Boston, I will walk 20 miles on Saturday, August 15. My kick-off event will begin with the challenge of walking 20 miles from Littleton, NH to Lancaster, NH. This will be a brewery-to-brewery walk. I will start at Schilling Beer Co. and end my 20-mile journey at the Copper Pig Brewery!
My journey in September will be a bakery-to-bakery walk. I will start at the Polish Princess Bakery located in Lancaster, NH and end at Crumb Bar located in Littleton, NH.
October’s journey will be a pizza-to-pizza walk! You guessed it, Littleton to Lancaster. I will start at Gold House Pizza and end at Scorpios Pizza and Sports Pub. November’s journey will be a café-to-café walk! I will start in Lancaster at The Granite Grind, ending my 20-mile journey at The InkWell Coffee & Teahouse.
I will walk as a survivor! I will walk for my lifelong friend Sharon, who continues to fight. I will walk for those we lost, the other survivors and for the many women, men and families that have been affected by this horrible disease.
My journey actually started on December 21, 2015 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. On January 25, 2016, the tumor was removed and the road to recovery and living cancer free began! With the loving support of my family and friends near and far, with radiation treatment behind me and ongoing medical support, I continue to be breast cancer free!
Please support me as I commit to this incredible challenge. It will be hard, but it’s not as hard as breast cancer. It’s not as hard as chemo. It’s not as hard as getting bad news at your latest scan. It’s not as hard as saying goodbye. And that’s why I know I have to do this. That’s why I commit. That’s why I’m walking and why I’m raising money to end breast cancer forever.
Thank you for sharing your fundraising tactics with us, Christine!
She is a great example for us all! During the evening celebration Zoom when Christine was notified live that she had won, we asked her what her secret was. She said, “I just kept posting and people kept donating.” We know these are strange times, but Christine and other 3-Day participants who are currently fundraising remind us every day that the simple act of asking people to support you in your fundraising efforts is what gets you your donations!
“The 3-Day has given me a purpose beyond my own day-to-day life. I cannot imagine what the last 16 years would have been without it.” —Burt Lipshie
We are honored to celebrate Burt Lipshie, 29-time 3-Day walker, on surpassing the incredible fundraising milestone of $250,000 raised for the 3-Day! We marvel at the ways in which he’s made the world a better place through his participation and fundraising. We asked Burt to answer a few questions that we’re excited showcase here today on the 3-Day blog.
How did you get involved with the 3-Day?
My sweet cousin, Judy Lipshie, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. The tumor was small, and her lymph nodes were clear, so after a lumpectomy and radiation, she and her doctors thought she was done with it. However, two years later after suffering what felt like a torn muscle in her abdominal area, Judy got the news that her breast cancer had metastasized to her liver. Over the next three years, she was a fighter who did all she could. She was a true champion. But she could not conquer the beast. She died, still in the prime of her life, in April 2004 at 62 years of age.
Several weeks later as I was in my office, Judy just seemed to be everywhere. I could really feel her presence. I emailed her daughters to tell them that I was having a “Judy Day,” and they wrote back that they weren’t surprised. They were having one, too. They thought their momma was proud of them that day because they had just signed up for the 2004 Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day. I told them I was proud of them too, and that I would surely contribute to help them reach their goals.
I thought about it for a couple of days and knew I could not let them do this without me. I needed to put my body on the line as well to fight back against Judy’s killer, so we walked together. As we cried on each other’s shoulders at the end of the Closing Ceremony, I realized that I had found my life’s cause. The 2020 New England 3-Day would have been my 30th walk.
We all know raising money during a global pandemic isn’t easy, but how have you done it?
I am blessed with an extraordinary donor group. My donations are somewhat lower this year than prior years, but not dramatically. In this year’s fundraising emails I have focused on reminding them that breast cancer does not practice social distancing, and that it is not “on pause” because of the pandemic. Indeed, breast cancer patients and survivors, with their compromised immune systems and vulnerability to the economic disaster the pandemic has caused, are among the most at-risk segments of our community. I think that struck a responsive chord. Additionally, Komen’s decision to put all 3-Day donations through the end of June into the COVID-19 Action Fund also really helped. I could honestly tell my donors that their dollars were going directly to assist people who needed help the most.
What is your secret to raising so much money every year?
I wish I had a secret that I could share. You know that old saying, “Choose your parents wisely”? That can be applied to donors as well. I haven’t done anything special. I write emails to my friends and colleagues, make them cry, and then I just become the conduit for their incredible caring and generosity. I suppose that it helps that they know how hard the 3-Day is from all of my prior emails and journals, and I have found that keeping the group apprised of how training is going and of any news that Komen has shared on the scientific front helps to remind those who might otherwise put off making an annual donation.
What keeps you coming back to the 3-Day again and again?
Of course, it is mostly the cause. I need to do all I can to help see to it that Judy did not die in vain. I need to do all I can to help bring about the day when no other man or woman, no other family, loses a person they love to breast cancer.
But there is also the 3-Day community. Little did I know back in 2004 that I would quickly become embraced by this extraordinary group of people. Since 2008, I have done two walks every year – Dallas/Fort Worth with my cousins, and first Chicago, then Michigan, with my dear friend, Mary Larson. When, a few years ago, Mary thought she was through walking, I decided that I would cut back to walking only Dallas/Fort Worth, and that that year’s Michigan walk would be my last. However, by the time that Michigan 3-Day was done, I had already signed up for the next year.
How could I give up spending that long weekend with all the friends I had made over the years? The 3-Day community is very, very, special.
What are some of your top 3-Day memories from past years?
You can well imagine that over 29 3-Day walks I have accumulated many memories. A couple stick out.
The most meaningful for me happens every year in Dallas. In the Spring of 2004, I was asked to participate in a conference on the future of legal education held at SMU Law School in Dallas. Judy was then living with her mom in Abilene but had spent most of her adult life in Dallas, and she had planned to come to Dallas while I was there and sneak in to hear me speak. However, by the time the conference was held, she was already in hospice. After the conference, I took a long lonely walk along Turtle Creek, where she and I had so often walked together. This time, my steps took me all the way up to Curtis Park. There, sitting on a bench, I spoke with Judy by phone. It was the last time I heard her voice. She died two days later.
Every year, the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day goes through Curtis Park, and passes “Judy’s Bench.” Every year, I get to walk by that sad place with hundreds of others fighting the same fight that for me began on that bench. It is always a highly emotional moment for me. In 2019, one of the 3-Day legends, Jim Hillmann, was walking with me when we got there, and he already knew my story from prior years. When I reached the bench, and essentially dissolved, Jim was right there to get me through it. His kindness at that moment embodied the 3-Day spirit.
Another powerful memory is also from the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. It was day three, and our route had us turning down Houston Street heading toward Dealey Plaza. There, at a small informal cheering station, sat an elderly woman holding a sign that thanked us for walking “from a 50-year survivor.” Without even thinking about it, I stopped, knelt at her feet, and took and kissed her hand. We both cried. I could go on for days about powerful 3-Day memories, but those may be the clearest in my mind.
How do you live the 3-Day spirit and spread the word all year long?
The 3-Day spirit and the mission is much more than just the three days of the event. It is year-round. As I always write to my donors during October, “you and I don’t need no stinkin’ awareness month.” My pink Komen bracelet is on my wrist every minute of every day. When I go out for a walk, whether for training or (especially these past couple of months) to get out of the house and get some air, I always wear a 3-Day shirt, 3-Day hat, and hot pink sneakers, along with my fanny pack festooned with 3-Day pins. I want always to be a walking billboard.
Every once in a while, it pays off when a woman passing me or going the other way looks at my get-up, and I can see in her face that she is thinking, “Yes, I need to make an appointment for a mammogram.”
Now that you’ve raised $250,000, what’s the next goal you’ve got your eyes on?
The thought that I have actually raised $250,000 is still astonishing to me. I remember so vividly when I sent out my first fundraising email in the Spring of 2004, I was wondering how much of the minimum fundraising requirement I could raise through donors and how much I would have to self-donate to do that one walk.
Amazingly, I wound up the number three fundraiser for San Diego 3-Day in 2004. Those wonderful people have never stopped donating. A few weeks ago, within moments of receiving the donation that put me over $250,000, I received another donation.
I thought how fitting it was to immediately start on the next $250,000. Well, it took me 16 years to raise this much. At my age, I cannot imagine being able to do this for another 16 years…there is, after all, only one George Nummer. However, my goal remains what it has been from the first dollar I raised: to do everything I can to slay the monster that murdered my Judy. So, for as long as I can, I will keep fundraising and walking.
Tell us what the 3-Day means to you.
The 3-Day has enabled me to fight back against my beloved cousin’s killer.
It has allowed me to be the conduit for the generosity of the many people in my world who have responded to my fundraising emails over the years.
It has brought me lifelong friends from among those I have met on event, and from my own local New York group of walkers.
The 3-Day has given me a purpose beyond my own day-to-day life. I cannot imagine what the last 16 years would have been without it.
Burt, we cannot thank you enough for your passion, dedication, and heart. THANK YOU for your commitment to making a difference in the fight against breast cancer. We are inspired by you and grateful for the contribution you’ve made to lead our Komen 3-Day family with your remarkable fundraising accomplishment!
Burt’s achievement will qualify him for the next level in the Lifetime Commitment Circle. He joins Loretta Englishbee, Kathy Giller and Bert Stein as Impact members at the $250,000 level.