The 3-Day Family Celebrates our Veterans

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank our Veterans for their service. Many members of the 3-Day family are Veterans or active service members and today we are honored to share some of their stories on the 3-Day blog.

Meet Frank M., Dan S., Sherry P., and Sandi BJ. Between the four of them, they have participated in an astounding 106 3-Days. As Veterans of the Air Force, Navy, and Army, they have shown dedication to our country and to our 3-Day community, and for that, we are truly grateful.

When we asked Dan what message he’d share with the Pink Bubble, “As a dad and a Veteran, let me share this. In this life you get two families; one was given at birth or assigned shortly thereafter and one you chose. Your given family is just that, and certain facets of those relationships are out of your control. Your chosen family are those you let into your inner peace; choose them wisely and cherish them. Some will last for just moments; others will last a lifetime. Be kind, be gentle and smile.”

To Frank, Dan, Sherry, Sandi, and all of the active service members and Veterans within our 3-Day chosen family, we thank you, and we cherish you. Spend a little time getting to know these four inspiring 3-Day participants.

Frank M. | Air Force Veteran
15-Time 3-Day Walker. Walking in New England and San Diego in 2021.

Why did you join the armed forces?
I signed up for the Air Force during my senior year of high school in 1978. I went in soon after graduation in August of 1979. I knew I didn’t want to go to college right away and wanted to learn a career. I ended up selecting a career in Inventory Management/Logistics. I spent the next 20 years traveling around the world. Best decision I ever made because it set me up for the rest of my life!

What does the 3-Day family mean to you?
I can’t say enough about my 3-Day family! Since doing my first walk in 2010, I have made so many lifelong friends. The hardest part of 2020 was not getting to see them on our regular 3-Day weekends in Boston and San Diego! I think the 3-Day attracts a lot of big-hearted people and that is why the “Pink Bubble” is such an awesome experience! We need more of that loving, caring feeling in the world!

Are there any things you learned or experienced in the military that you brought to your 3-Day experience, or vice versa?
A couple of things! 1. In the military you also become part of a family, especially when you are stationed overseas and you have to count on each other. 2. Teamwork! On my first walk, I was lucky enough to join the “Men with Heart” team in Boston. We decided to be the “Boy Scouts” of these walks. We all carry backpacks filled with supplies anyone on the walk might need. We brought this same teamwork to Philly when there was no 3-Day in Boston that year. We joined forces with the “Friends with Heart” team there and ended up being the top fundraisers for the Philadelphia 3-Day four years in a row. I am so proud of that team that I co-captained with my dear friend and survivor, Sharon Slosarik.

This Veterans Day, if you could share one message with the Pink Bubble, what would it be?
In the military, you learn to adjust and adapt! This year has been hard on all of us. Know that we WILL get back together in the “Pink Bubble,” but until then, we still need to get together as a team to raise the money that is still so desperately needed for this cause we come together for! I can’t wait to see you all out there on future walks! Much love to my pink family! ❤️🤗 

Dan S. | Navy Veteran
11-Time 3-Day Walker. 44-Time 3-Day Crew Member. Crewing in Chicago, New England, and San Diego in 2021.

Why did you join the armed forces?
In 1968, most of us had two choices if we were healthy: Join the military or get drafted. I preferred to enlist to have a little say in my future. Being from a Navy family — my father, brother, and 8 uncles all served — it just seemed like the right option. After I completed four years of active duty, I was given the opportunity to sign on with the reserve component of the Navy Air Wing. I was assigned to a brand new squadron flying out of the Detroit area. VP-93 was a squadron of land-based P-3 aircraft which patrol the oceans in an anti-submarine capacity. Within the squadron, flight crews were formed, and those men were your family.

After 28 years, I retired from the Navy and found a lot of time on my hands and an energy I could not describe. And then I became involved with the 3-Day back in 2004 to complete a civic service phase of a class I was taking. The following year, my daughter asked me to do it again with her this time. Then, after a couple more years, a bond began to form, and our little pink family took root. To my daughter’s team I was just “Dad.” As the years went on and our family expanded, it changed to “3-Day Dad,” as I am significantly older than most, and that newfound energy gave me a purpose.

Are there any things you learned or experienced in the military that you brought to your 3-Day experience, or vice versa?
In the military, as years went by, you took the younger service members under your wing and trained and protected them as if they were your own. At the 3-Day events, as part of the crew I found myself doing much the same thing. Sure, staff is there to run the walk, as it should be, but they may not get to see the individuals change as the 3-Days go on, and even more so as the years progress. I have, and it has changed my life!

What does the 3-Day family mean to you?
I have made acquaintances, friends, and a “Pink Bubble Family” through my time with Susan G. Komen. Being a multi-city crew member and walker, I have met so many people over the years that I call friends and some that I call anytime I want to. I have become a minister to officiate at their wedding, and I sadly have attended too many of their memorial services.

Sherry P. | Navy Veteran
14-Time 3-Day Walker. Walking in San Diego in 2021.

Why did you join the armed forces?
One day when I was seven, I went to work with my Daddy. When a young guy walked up and asked him a question and then listened to the answer before thanking him and walking away, I thought, “WOW! My Dad must be important!” I asked him why that guy had talked to him like that. Daddy said, “Because I’m a Navy Chief! He’d better talk to me like that!” I asked what was more important than a Chief and he said a Senior Chief. I told him that was what I was going to be. He laughed; I laughed. Ten years later, I joined the Navy. I am so thankful for the opportunities I had in the Navy. I traveled the world, made friends, and earned two college degrees — the first in my family to do so. I would do it all again if I had the chance. By the way, when I retired in 2011, I was a Senior Chief, and my Daddy was my biggest fan!

I actually started walking in the 3-Day because a newly promoted Navy Chief friend of mine had walked in 2008 but couldn’t walk in 2009 because he was being deployed to Iraq. I told him I would take his place and walk for him. He said, “You have to raise $2,300.” I replied, “Okay.” Then he said, “You have to walk 60 miles.” Again, I said, “Okay.” “Why would you do that?” he asked me. “Because that’s what Navy Chiefs do. We take care of each other. You made a commitment, and the Navy isn’t letting you keep it. So, I’ll do it for you,” I told him. The rest was history.

What does the 3-Day family mean to you?
One of the first things you learn in the military is that family isn’t always blood or marriage; most of the time it’s just people who share life-changing experiences. Family is about people who are there when you need them and will drop everything when they get your call. Some of my family, the people who mean the most to me, I met while we shared a few miles, smiles, or tears on a 3-Day event.

I’ve walked in 14 events in 9 locations, Denver, Dallas/Fort Worth, Arizona, San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle, San Diego, Twin Cities, and Michigan. I have seen some of my 3-Day family at multiple 3-Day events, and others I have only seen once. Some of my Navy family are also a part of my 3-Day family. How cool is that? It’s amazing how such a diverse group (politics, race, gender, marital status, geographic location, hobbies, etc.) has come together for a cause so much bigger than each of us. After one event, and before the next one, we keep in touch via phone or social media. Together we celebrate each other’s successes, mourn losses, and everything in between. It truly has been a blessing to me. The 3-Day may not be my family by blood or marriage, but they are every bit as important in my life.

I have 3-Day/Navy family in almost every state. I live in the middle of nowhere outside of Amarillo, Texas, and some of my favorite memories are when someone rolled into my driveway in the middle of the night needing a place to park, warm bed, a cup of coffee, or just a hug.

Just like I followed my Daddy’s footsteps in the Navy, my youngest son followed mine (literally) in the 3-Day. Robby served on the Youth Corps for two years (Dallas/Fort Worth 2016 and 2017) and has walked in two events (San Diego 2018 and Michigan 2019). My 3-Day family has watched him grow into a terrific young man, and I love watching their kids grow up, too!

Are there any things you learned or experienced in the military that you brought to your 3-Day experience, or vice versa?
Change your socks! HA! Anyone who has ever been in the military or the 3-Day has been told to change their socks early and often. I know it sounds simple, and maybe that’s the point. Something so simple, and often overlooked, can make a world of difference.

This Veterans Day, if you could share one message with the Pink Bubble, what would it be?
This year has been difficult on so many levels with a pandemic, events cancelled, politics, weather events, etc. It can be overwhelming, but if we focus on the important things in our life, our friends, our family, and our faith, we will get through.   

Sandi BJ | Army Veteran
9-Time 3-Day Walker. 13-Time 3-Day Crew Member. Walking in New England and Chicago in 2021. Crewing Dallas/Fort Worth and San Diego in 2021.

Why did you join the armed forces?
I was in my second year of college when I joined the Army. I joined for the GI benefit. I originally wanted to join the Army’s Nursing School, but there was a year’s wait. So, I took a job in Europe.

What does the 3-Day family mean to you?
The 3-Day is “family” to me. Over the years, I’ve met a group of “acquaintances” who have become family, especially during my multiple cancers.

Are there any things you learned or experienced in the military that you brought to your 3-Day experience, or vice versa?
There is a saying shared among soldiers in the Army — “Don’t volunteer.” I did the opposite — I volunteered. I continue to volunteer in my community, women’s Veterans’ groups, charity events and the 3-Day. I walk and I crew.

This Veterans Day, if you could share one message with the Pink Bubble, what would it be?
Thank a Veteran — especially women Veterans — who are often ignored. When I was in the Army, Veterans and military members were not treated well by the public due to Vietnam, even though Vietnam had been over for a few years. It was not until the Gulf in the 1990s that Veterans and the military were “thanked for their service.”  

#OOTD Inspiration for the 3-Day Virtual Kick-Offs

Looking for some creative costume ideas as you prepare to join us for our final two 2021 Virtual Kick-Off events this month? Level up your selfies for the Dallas/Fort Worth Virtual Kick-Off on November 7 and the San Diego Virtual Kick-Off on November 21 with these costume ideas from the 3-Day community. Though we cannot gather together in person, we can take on the streets with a great Outfit Of The Day, Pink Bubble style.

We polled each of the 3-Day Facebook groups for their best Halloween photos as #ootd inspiration. Check out these great suggestions from your fellow 3-Dayers! But make sure whatever you wear is comfortable for walking, and you’re masked appropriately. Why not make your mask a part of your costume?

Grace your route as pink royalty.

Don your crown and robe as you begin your 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off journey. Bonus points if you match your walking shoes to your finest ballgown or suit.   

Photo by Ruth P. of the San Diego 3-Day

Walk in costume with your furry friends

While 101 dalmatians may be hard to walk at the same time, a sweet pup with a pink leash is the perfect companion on your Virtual Kick-Off walk.

Photo by Marci H. of the New England 3-Day

Embrace your wild side.

Squeal the show as a pig or other barnyard animal! Be sure to ham it up for photos and give lots of virtual hogs and kisses to your adoring social media fans and donors. Remember, these Kick-Off events are a great catalyst to ask for donations. Need help? Check out this recording of our latest fundraising webinar, hosted by your fellow 3-Day walkers and crew!

Photo by Kate P. of the Chicago 3-Day

Bundle up in theme!

This pink sled dog getup is sure to blaze the chilly trail as temps begin to dip.

Photo by Julie J. of the San Diego 3-Day

“Bee” yourself, get groovy, rock a wig, or more!

If none of these ideas suits your fancy, check out these other great costume shots of the 3-Day community for inspiration. Whatever you decide, we guarantee that dressing up will make your Virtual 3-Day Kick-Off experience even more memorable.

What will you wear for the 3-Day Virtual Kick-Off events? Post your ideas here in the comments!

Crystal’s Wonder Woman

“Omg that is me! I did it for my aunt who survived triple negative breast cancer. She is truly a hero in my eyes and the strongest woman I know. She is my Wonder Woman.”

When we saw this comment on one of our favorite 3-Day photos on Instagram, we knew we needed to find this walker and her aunt to learn more. In a time where we cannot gather together in-person, social media allows us the opportunity to continue to build community even when we’re apart.

Today, we’re excited to introduce you that amazing walker. Crystal Fazio joined us to walk the San Diego 3-Day in 2019 when her aunt, Ilsia Rangel, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. According to Crystal, “We were devastated with the news. Her chances of getting through it were extremely low. My aunt was a fighter though and explored her options.” After difficult chemo sessions, lymph node removal, and a double mastectomy, Crystal’s aunt has been in remission for 18 months.

Crystal continued, “We as a family stayed by her side and helped her through for better and worse. We wanted to give back in support of breast cancer awareness. That’s when we found the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.” Crystal’s aunt immediately said. “Let’s do this, we got this!” No one hesitated, and eight friends and family members founded The Bouncing Bellas.

Crystal and the Bouncing Bella’s treasured every moment they walked with Crystal’s aunt. “She truly is a super woman to me and my family because of all the challenging obstacles that came in her way. She fought back, blisters and all!” exclaimed Crystal. As first-time walkers on a new team, the Bouncing Bellas had a lot to take in. When asked what she’d tell other first-time walkers, Crystal shared, “My message for first-time walkers is that it will be tough and challenging. Train hard, stay hydrated, and keep pushing through, because the experience is worth all the pain and blisters. It is truly an experience of a lifetime. Oh, and don’t forget the PICKLES!”

Crystal’s aunt recently learned that her cancer has returned as lung and liver cancer, yet her family continues to come together and rally in support of Ilsia. Crystal proudly states, “She is still our Super Woman and puts on a smile every day. Nothing! Not even cancer is slowing her down!”

Thanks to Crystal for sharing her powerful smile with the 3-Day world via our Instagram page and especially for relaying the story of her Wonder Woman, her aunt.

In true social media form, when asked if she could share a DM with each person in the 3-Day community, Crystal said: “Stay positive, have fun, and remember, you are not alone!”

We are so lucky that we can still connect with walkers like Crystal – and all of you! – virtually over social media and at our virtual kick-off events, even though we can’t join together in person this year.