Meet the 3-Day Team: Gayla Cruikshank, Dallas/Fort Worth Coach

my family

You have seen her on the 3-Day Facebook Live videos, our Instagram feed, and those from the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day know her face well, but it’s time to really get to know Dallas/Fort Worth Local Events Coach Gayla Cruikshank.

She loves celebrating Taco Tuesday, spending time with her family (including husband of 28 years!), and is a constant supporter of all things 3-Day. This began more than a decade ago in 2005 when she first walked the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. Since then, she has been hooked.

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“Since 2005, I was either a walker or a volunteer crew member at the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, and started volunteering during the training season more and more. I loved the people who staffed the event, as well as the participants I walked with and helped all season as a volunteer and training walk leader. I craved to be a part of the organization at any level.”

Then, in 2013, she became a full-time member of the 3-Day staff, and now gets to work in the “powerful, inspiring, love-filled” 3-Day environment every day. This includes holding Get Started Meetings, leading training walks, working with walkers to help them reach their training and fundraising goals, as well as being a full-time cheerleader for anyone who needs her help.

This spirit especially comes in handy when recruiting and encouraging first-time walkers.

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“I encourage people to join the 3-Day by motivating them to try something that they’ve probably never done before. Fundraising for a cause that’s saving lives, training with passionate people driven to end breast cancer, hearing survivor stories and the thanks they share for your commitment—it all empowers a person to take on something bigger than themselves. It’s inspiring and life-changing.”

She also explains that, though the task can seem daunting at first, fundraising and training for the 3-Day isn’t something to be worried about, thanks to the help provided by team members like her.

“The coaches will share how to raise funds in a way that works with that individual’s personality. Whether you’re shy or outgoing, we have so many successful fundraising ideas that will surprise and encourage you to reach your goals sooner rather than later.

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“We also provide a gradual training schedule and you can walk as much or as little as you want. We have sweep vans to give you a lift on the route to a pit stop if you’re tired or even done for the day. Others say they can’t raise the money because they don’t know enough people to donate $2,300. You never know who will donate to you until you ASK. We have over 100 different ways to fundraise that have been tried and are successful. Coaches can also introduce you to a team that’s ready to welcome solo walkers and help reach those fundraising goals.”

All your hard work becomes worth it on event, where Gayla says she loves the community experience.

“You meet people, listen to their stories, eat with them, sleep in the neighboring tent, cry with them, laugh with them and build a bond that can literally last a lifetime.”

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Those bonds extend beyond the 3-Day walkers, and into the whole community, which Gayla says is one of the things she’s most excited about this year.

“I’m looking forward to a whole lot more community involvement along the sidewalks this year, as well as our new Closing Ceremony site. I’m asking everyone to mention the 3-Day to businesses and friends in hopes to get every sidewalk covered with spectators cheering on the walkers all three days until we enter the Participant Finishing Area in downtown Dallas!”

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Go Gayla, go! If Gayla has motivated you to get out there and start training right now, she also has you covered on your walks! She shared some of her favorite work-out songs with us, as well as her top spots along the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day route.

Dance as you walk to:

walker stalkers while Darcy and I crewed

Keep an eye out for these Gayla-approved spots along the way though!

Our Coaches’ Favorite Photos

May is National Photography Month, and to celebrate, we had our coaches and team share their favorite photos of the 3-Day. From puppy love to rainy days to new friends and even whole families, the memories are all filled with all the fun and happiness of the 3-Day.

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Photo from Coach Gayla

Gayla, Dallas/Fort Worth Coach

This is a beautiful on from 2013 where a walker was greeted by her son home from the military.

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This shot with the AMG Team is from a stellar group of walker stalkers in 2013 when I was crewing (and sweeping) with my daughter, Darcy.

Adult mean girls

 

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Marianne Masterson, San Diego Coach

This is my all-time favorite picture of my team from last year.  This was shot at the start of Day 3, along the bay, as we were leaving camp. 


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Heather Snyder, Michigan Coach

I love this one of George Nummer! It’s also one that we gave to the producers of CBS Detroit who are doing a feature on him airing next Monday (make sure to tune in! More info on our Facebook page here) 😊 85 years young and will participate in his 38th and 39th event this season. Inspirational beyond words!

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Other than that, I love all the photos of emotional moments.

 

2008 3-Day Villanova

Joanne Taylor, Philadelphia Coach

This is from 2008 when our closing ceremony was still at Villanova University. My son, Mark (16 at the time) walked with us that year. So much fun!

 

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Alyssa Curran, Social Media Manager

I love this photo from 2015 Seattle. It captures the amazing vibrancy and beauty of our community doing everything they can to end breast cancer.

 

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Stephanie Mayer, Twin Cities Coach

Rainy Saturday! This photo just makes me laugh! This was Saturday of 2016 Twin Cities. Despite the rainy weather the 3-Day staff still managed to go with the flow and have a good time while making sure we took good care of our participants. Eileen and I provided personal shuttle services to our walkers from lunch to the entrance of a nearby school where they could eat and dry off.

Grace and AvaThese are my daughters Grace and Ava. I loved having them experience the 3-Day family for the first time in 2016. My oldest volunteered and my youngest served on the Twin Cities Youth Corp.

2016 flag

This was taken by our teammate Molly F. in 2016. It symbolizes everything the 3-Day and its participants stand for.

 

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Karen Odell, Atlanta Coach

These are photos I took from the 2009 3-Day!

Jen Hanskat

What are your favorite photos from the 3-Day? Send them to us on social media! Remember, you can always see some of our favorite photos in the Photos section of this blog, too!

 

Meet the 3-Day Team: Karen Odell, Atlanta Coach

We are lucky to work with some of the best in our 3-Day family. From coaches to volunteer coordinators to event planners, we are always working to make your sixty miles the best they can be! With that in mind, we are highlighting some of our amazing team members each month, so you can get to know the people working to help you every day.

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Our 3-Day rock star of the month is Karen Odell, a new coach for our Atlanta 3-Day. She will be out and about in the community, working with our amazing participants to help bring new walkers and more awareness to the Atlanta 3‑Day this year.

Karen has just re-joined the 3-Day team working with a lung cancer non-profit, and she is very happy to be settled in with the Atlanta 3-Day team.

“I love the nature trails along the river. We have several miles of hiking that take you along beautiful hilly stretches and lead to lovely views of the Chattahoochee River!”

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The trails are perfect for 3-Day training for Atlanta natives, and walkers from all cities should keep an eye out for Karen on the event.

“I am looking forward to reconnecting with participants and volunteers who I haven’t seen in a few years. It is wonderful to see how many are still engaged with the event!”

That includes Karen herself, who became involved with the 3-Day after realizing she had a true passion for cancer research fundraising. She then turned that passion into her daily work, and now focuses her work “to drive registrations to the best of my ability, to connect and communicate with participants on a personal level and to ensure that the event experience is of the highest standard.”

Have a question or a concern? Don’t worry! Karen says the 3-Day is “easier than you expect,” and encourages first-time walkers, potential walkers, and even veterans to reach out to her.

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“We are available to coach and mentor you through the journey and have the tools to make sure you succeed. I think when we have the opportunity to meet face-to-face and introduce new participants to our seasoned veterans, they are put at ease and realize this event is something they can do!”

That support also helps participants to create their own experience as they trek those 60 miles.

“The 3-Day is unique for each participant because everyone comes to it with a different perspective and world view. When they arrive on event, all the training and hard work culminate in an experience that unfolds as uniquely their own. Although the experience is shared with many, each person creates their own personal journey.”

Want to know more about Karen’s journey? Offer her a trip to Greece or some seriously good seafood, and she just might tell you! These are a few of the Southern girl’s favorite things, along with tunes by Florence and the Machine, The Eurhythmics, Paul Simon and Prince.

our family

Plus, if she ever needs a new career, she could always be a chef or an actress! She earned a culinary degree, and was also an extra on Saturday Night Live before joining the 3-Day team. So, when you see her on the Atlanta 3-Day, feel free to tell her a joke or share a recipe, as well as asking any of your questions about the 3-Day.

See you in Atlanta!