Our crates are all packed up, our tents are all stowed,
And we’re taking a break after months on the road.
But before we say farewell to twenty-thirteen,
We fondly remember all the things we have seen.
Through the hearts of big cities and quaint little towns,
On sidewalks, twisty trails, up hills then back down,
Feet, by the thousands, all blistered and tired,
Walked mile after mile, each step more inspired.
In fourteen cities, and well over 800 miles,
With tears and embraces, and high fives and smiles,
Each walker gave something that can’t be defined:
A bold, hope-filled spirit that’s a rare thing to find.
Through every challenge, and each pain they endured,
We move that much closer to finding a cure.
So as you gather with loved ones, sharing holiday cheer,
The 3-Day team says, “Thanks for a wonderful year!”
For the final post in the Coaches’ Favorite Moments series, we hear from Michigan coach Jennifer Hanskat. Jennifer has been a 3-Day coach for 9 years, and has also participated in the 3-Day 17 times. One of her most cherished 3-Day memories happened just this year in San Diego, where a promise made to a friend finally was fulfilled.
Bridget and Jennifer on the 2008 San Diego 3-Day
“In 2008 I walked with Bridget [Spence] in San Diego. It was the first and only time that both of us were able to participate as walkers in two events within the same year. I had previously walked in Michigan with my family, Bridget in DC with her family, and then we came together in San Diego for the last event of the year. We walked the entire walk together, and on Saturday afternoon we saw the roller coaster at Belmont Park and talked about how fun it would be to ride the coaster.
“By the time we were at the pit stop next to the coaster it was late in the day, we were tired, hungry and just ready to be done. For a variety of reasons we passed up the coaster and didn’t ride it. The very next day we talked about it and decided, we should have done it. The regret of not riding the coaster came up a few times over the next few years and we came up with our very own slogan: ‘If life puts a roller coaster in your path, ride it!’
“When I registered to walk in San Diego this year, I knew I was going to ride that coaster, to honor the memory of my beautiful friend, Bridget, who passed away earlier this year. I discussed this with my team and many were on board with me. A few weeks before the event, I learned that the route may have changed and that we might pass Belmont Park early in the morning before it was opened. I was disappointed but ultimately thought that if it was meant to be, it would work out.
“As we began Day 2 I realized that yes, we were going to pass by Belmont Park later in the afternoon on the way back to camp. I was walking with several members of my team and I told them that I was riding the coaster. As we neared the pit stop close to Belmont Park, several more members of my team ended up at the same location. It was meant to be!
“In the end, 13 of us rode the coaster…I rode in the front car with my dear friend, Nanette, who was also very close with Bridget. We rode that coaster with our hands in the air the entire time, laughing and celebrating the life of Bridget. I am sure that Bridget was smiling and laughing from heaven as she watched us. It worked out exactly like it was supposed to.”
Jennifer and her teammates rode the Belmont Park roller coaster on the 2013 San Diego walk, to celebrate Bridget’s life.
The riders come home!
I was honored to be one of the 13 coaster riders that day too, and I can’t help but smile at the correlation between that literal roller coaster ride we took and the symbolic roller coaster ride that so many experience on their 3-Day journey. You approach the coaster with excitement and maybe some trepidation. Maybe you made the choice on your own or maybe your friends talked you into it. You wait, you prepare and finally, you board the train. From there, you take off on a thrilling ride that’s exhilarating and sometimes scary. It’s full of ups and downs, unexpected turns and bumps, and in most cases, lots of smiles and laughter. It’s the same with the 3-Day, and I am thankful every day that I said “Yes” to that ride the first time.
In the last 3-Day blog post, some of our coaches shared their favorite moments from 2013. The inspiring interactions and conversations that the coaches have with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walkers and crew members are an immensely rewarding part of the job, and part of what makes it so easy for our participants to connect so closely with the coaches is that many of the coaches participate in the 3-Day themselves.
Let’s hear more from the coaches who walked and worked alongside you in 2013.
Seattle coach Aubrey Cushing was a first-time 3-Day crew member in 2013. As part of the Camp Services crew team in San Diego, she had many opportunities to meet and congratulate the walkers she had been in touch with by phone or email all year long. “I adored coming to San Diego and finally putting faces to names of participants I had spoken with over the course of the year. The hugs and high fives were some of the most special ones I’ve received and I cherish the love that was shared with me that weekend. Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. I have been gifted the opportunity to connect with the world’s most impactful people. Who could ask for anything more?”
Paula Hultman, another Seattle coach, walked in San Diego with her husband George. Together, the Hultmans have walked a combined 26 3-Day events (wow!), but the emotional impact of the 3-Day is as strong now as it has ever been for them: “I was moved to tears twice this year, at the outpouring of community support by the people of San Diego. On Day 1, as we climbed the first hill to the picturesque town of Del Mar Village, we were met by several blocks of well-wishers who lined the sidewalks in front of their businesses, offering their thanks, and showering us with words of gratitude and support. It was remarkable. On Day 2, when I was walking with tremendous knee pain, we came across yet another stretch of supporters along the San Diego River. Again, their cheers, signs and thanks brought tears to my eyes, and eased the pain I had to deal with. My husband and I are forever grateful to the community support we have found in our 11 years of walking in San Diego.”
The Hultmans pause for a picture in San Diego
Val Jones, one of our Dallas/Fort Worth coaches, was part of the 2013 3-Day event staff, working as the on-event crew coordinator for all 14 3-Days this year. “We had so much to do on the Twin Cities 3-Day with the changing of Day 3’s route, due to excessive heat. What struck me and can occasionally make me tear up thinking about it is the kindness of the crew. Upon receipt of the news regarding the scaled down Day 3, they immediately went into action doing what needed to be done and being so extremely flexible! The Camp Hydration Captain, Tom B., stands out most, as he made it his mission to ensure that every walker, crew member, AND staff member was staying hydrated. Tom didn’t have to go above and beyond, but he did, and for that, I will forever be grateful.”
Tom B. and his wife at the Opening Ceremony in Twin Cities
For coach and walker Kim Collings, one of the most moving things she saw was at the very beginning of the San Diego 3-Day. “I saw a father and daughter walking next to each other just after the Opening Ceremony, with smiles and tears, knowing that his wife, her mother had just passed away on the Tuesday before the 3-Day.” Kim also shared another stirring sight that waited at the end of a particularly grueling hill climb. “Just after finishing the famous Juan Street hill, we walked through that really pretty neighborhood. We came up on a nice house with a little boy in a swing clapping and thanking us for making his mommy better. Then I saw a handwritten sign on cardboard and looked up on the porch to see the woman who had written it sobbing while thanking us for walking. I had to run back and up to her for the best hug ever! If I had any doubts as to why I walk, they all went away with that hug.”
A heartfelt display of thanks
Thank you coaches, for letting us experience the 3-Day through your eyes. Readers, what about you? Post comments about your experiences with the 3-Day coaches!