Susan G. Komen 3-Day Coaches’ Favorite Memories from 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, we are taking a look back at all the wonderful 3-Days of 2016. We celebrated our 150th 3-Day Walk in Michigan this year, and all of the 3-Days had many high points. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day Coaches spent the entire year supporting walkers, crew members and volunteers across the country, and when the event season began in August, they hit the road alongside our walkers. With that in mind, we asked the 3-Day coaches to share their favorite memories from the 2016 3-Day season.

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Gayla (Dallas/Fort Worth Local Events Coach) – At the 2016 #MI3Day I was the caboose. When I  passed by Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor behind the last walkers, Elizabeth was outside and asked me all about the 3-Day. She said she had been outside cheering on the walkers as they passed and told me she’s a breast cancer survivor herself. After chatting a while she asked me to wait a minute while she walked inside. She came back outside with a $40 cash donation.

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Some of Gayla’s other top memories include:

  • Hanging out with the Survivors and Honor flag bearers at DFW 3-Day rehearsal.
  • Stealing a box of grahamwiches with the DFW3Day coaches and getting caught on camera by the 3-Day Social Media Manager, Alyssa!
  • Toasting in DFW to 150 events and the beautiful rainbow after the Closing Ceremony in DFW.

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Kathleen (Seattle Crew & Volunteer Coordinator) – The Seattle Bike Police were out in full force in Seattle this year. I was also the staff person on pit stop 2 in Dallas, where they built an incredible Wizard of Oz themed world!

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Jen (Seattle Participant Coach) – One of my memories is of Terri Z. (wearing the pink hat in the middle of the photo). Terri has mostly walked in Philadelphia and I worked with her when I was the Philly coach. She doesn’t use email or a computer, so all of our communication was via phone, which doesn’t happen all that often! In all of our talks, she never mentioned she is a breast cancer survivor. I saw her coming in with the survivors and was shocked as she never had mentioned it. She told me after the event that walking into the Closing Ceremony was one of the most moving memories of her life. J

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Jen (Seattle Participant Coach) – Another memory is of Kathy B. (left hand side of photo). Kathy was our Local Impact Award winner and also spoke at camp on Friday night. She is battling triple negative breast cancer. I got to know her in the couple of weeks leading up to the event and can honestly say I will be forever touched by her story and strength. Amazing, amazing lady.

Ann (Michigan Field Marketing Coordinator) – My favorite moments in 2016 were all the times I walked into a pit stop or camp and a walker shouted my name. It’s always so great to connect with folks that I don’t get to see all the time and I love seeing them out on the route. It’s always so wonderful to hear about how their walk is going!

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Jennifer (Michigan Participant Coach) – One favorite memory happened in Michigan and that was sharing the experience with my husband, Charles.  He is not new to the 3-Day but he was new to the Michigan 3-Day and it was fun to hear about his experiences on the route and at the event, which differ greatly from my own.

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Jennifer also said, I loved getting all of the 2016 Series walkers and crew (those participating in all 7 events) in one place for a group photo.  I am the coach who works closely with this group throughout the year, mainly so they simply have one point of contact.  This group is hard to wrangle into one spot so I choose Friday morning, before the Opening Ceremony, in San Diego and we were lucky enough to get this group on the stage before the ceremony began.

These walkers who walked all 7 events this year (from the right in the photo, Jim, Carol, Dena, Pala, Karen, Ellen & Christa) and Kenny (far left of the photo) crewed all 7 events this year.

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Tisho (Philadelphia Participant Coach) – One of my favorite moments this year was being able to stand right inside the finish arch at the Philadelphia 3-Day and watch my participants come in. As a coach I spend so much time talking to people on the phone and over email but I rarely get to see them face to face. Having the opportunity to be right there as they achieve this huge milestone was simply amazing. One of these moments was captured in the beautiful photo above. Kathy DiRusso, captain of one of our top teams, The Cup Crusaders, walked in to the finish area, and I was able to greet her with a giant congratulatory hug. Finishing a 3-Day, whether it’s your first or your 21st is such an incredible mix of joy, pride and relief and I think this photo captures all of them. (Photo credit: Jim Hillman)

Eileen (Twin Cities Participant Coach) – One of my favorite memories was playing shuttle bus driver at lunch in the Twin Cities this year. Lunch was set up in the parking lot of a local school. It was cold and had been pouring rain all day. We decided to open the school as a place for our walkers to get out of the rain while they ate lunch.

The walkers had to walk past the entrance of the school to the other end of the property to pick up their lunches. So to get into the school the walkers would have to walk the route backwards about ½ a mile (and then re-walk it when they were done with lunch!).

Stephanie and I decided to run shuttles from the lunch pit stop back to the school entrance. We had so much fun doing it! It was a great afternoon and everyone appreciated our efforts.  The best part for me was that I got to meet a lot of walkers I would not normally meet.  Our long-time participants don’t often need a coach’s assistance so I don’t have many opportunities to get to know them.  This turned out to be a great way to finally put faces to the names I see every day!

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Several of our staff had memories about a very special participant, Barry Blauer, who celebrated a great milestone in Michigan this year. These are their memories with Barry!

Jennifer (Michigan Participant Coach) – I had a few favorite moments on the events this year but the number one for me happened in Michigan.  Barry Blauer is a long time 3-Day participant, and he celebrated a huge milestone while on the Michigan 3-Day this year, participating in more than 80 events.  Barry was one of the original series walkers back in the day, fundraising and walking in ALL 14 events in a single year and doing it more than once. In the last few years Barry has been battling ALS.  Even with his physical challenges Barry participated this year in the Michigan 3-Day.  He participated in a wheelchair mostly and had help along the way. With a little behind the scenes magic, Barry was the last walker into the Participant Finish Area on the Sunday of the event and it was emotional to witness but so powerful.  I was crying but I also had chills to watch his determination to WALK under that inflatable banner and all the way to the victory shirt tent.

After the Closing Ceremony, I helped Barry and his wife get back to their car and the last thing he said to me as I hugged him and congratulated him again was, “I will be back next year.” Barry is currently signed up as a crew member for the 2017 Michigan 3-Day.

Gina (Michigan Crew & Volunteer Coordinator) – The memory I have is Lloyd, one of our Route Safety Crew members, pushing Barry into the Participant Finish area. Everyone was on the feet, cheering, crying…paying tribute to Barry.

Gayla (Dallas/Fort Worth Local Events Coach) – Walking in behind long-time walker Barry Blauer in Michigan. He’s now walked 86 3-Day events!

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With all of these amazing memories, it’s not hard to see why our 3-Day community comes back every year to make their mark in the fight against breast cancer. 3-Dayers, we ask you; what’s YOUR favorite memory from 2016? Join us in reflection by posting in the comments!

Amy and Alison: Two A+ Examples of 3-Day Crew Awesomeness

We’ve said it many times before, but the sentiment can never be overstated: the 3-Day absolutely would not be possible without the hard work put in by our dedicated, all-volunteer crew. “Extraordinary” is a word we really could use to describe any 3-Day crew member, but as National Volunteer Week continues, we’re happy to be able to shine the spotlight on a pair of crew members whose commitment truly sets them apart.

Amy Nadeau and Alison Glancz come from opposite points of the country, but they share something in common: they are both incredibly passionate about being part of the 3-Day crew, and have both been fixtures on the 3-Day for over a decade.

Amy lives in Dexter, Michigan with her husband Mark, and the two of them first became part of the 3-Day in 2006, a year after Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. “When I finished my treatment, Mark and I were just beginning to think about how we could give back—or maybe ‘pay it forward’ is a better term—for the advances that made my recovery possible. I saw a commercial for the 3-Day, we went to a Get Started Meeting and the rest is history!”Capture

Alison, who hails from Atlanta, also attended a meeting at the beginning of her 3-Day journey: “I went to a meeting in 2005 as a sorority representative on UGA’s campus. I saw the video and knew it was something I had to be a part of, so I signed up that night. I guess 23 events later you could say I’ve become addicted.”

Alison Glancz

Alison Glancz

You read that right: 23 events for Alison; she walked her first three years and has crewed multiple events—20 total—every year since 2007. “Crewing honestly means the world to me. While I enjoyed walking, I LOVE crewing. It’s an opportunity for me to give back to walkers who come back year after year and devote themselves to an amazing cause. The crew is its own family, it’s just a giant reunion on event. What’s not to love?”

Amy’s 3-Day resume is equally impressive; both she and Mark have crewed the Michigan 3-Day every year since 2006, and Mark also walked in 2015 to celebrate Amy’s 10th year as a breast cancer survivor. “We chose to crew because we wanted to focus on serving the walkers. It’s a way to say thank you for what their efforts have made possible for me and all those who did and will come after me. I firmly believe that I would not be here today, if not for the advances made possible by the 3-Day and other events like it.”

Crewing the 3-Day means long hours and hard work, so making the commitment year after year to volunteer as crew members is remarkable in itself. But so often, crew members like Amy and Alison go above and beyond by spending months fundraising leading up to the 3-Day, in addition to working their tails off for 4 days at each event. Crew members are not required to raise money for the 3-Day, but that hasn’t stopped Amy and Alison.

“Mark and I fundraise, even as crew members,” Amy shared, “because winning this fight can’t happen without funding, and being a crew member rather than a walker does not change that need. We aren’t shy about asking people for their support–sometimes repeatedly–and we always use our personal story to illustrate why this is so important.” Together, Mark and Amy have raised over $100,000 since they first started with the 3-Day in 2006.

Mark and Amy Nadeau

Mark and Amy

Alison’s feeling about fundraising as a crew member is right there with the Nadeaus. “I’ve raised over $52,000 in these 11 years. So crazy! When I switched over to crew back in 2008, I still wanted to contribute, and my goal was always to raise the $2,300 minimum, just like the walkers. I wanted to have a similar impact. Each year my goal just kept increasing, and I learned not to be afraid to ask anyone and everyone.”

Who could say no to this?

Who could say no to this?

When I first reached out to these two ladies, I wasn’t aware of any connection they had with each other, and they each didn’t know that I was in contact with the other, so it was a delightful surprise when, coincidentally, Alison sent me a photo of her with Amy! Turns out that their paths crossed for the first time on the 2015 3-Day in Michigan. “Alison was captain of lunch in Michigan last year and I was on her crew,” Amy told me. Alison added, “It was my first event there, and everyone (especially Amy!) welcomed me with open arms. It was an amazing event, and I’m registered for it again this year.”

Amy and Alison looking cool

Amy and Alison looking cool

So what’s next for these two? As you might have guessed, their 2016 schedules will include more memories made crewing at the 3-Day. Amy and Mark will be in Michigan again this year, Amy on Camp Services and Mark on Gear and Tent. Same goes for Alison: “I will definitely be in Atlanta, in my usual Camp Services role. People know to look for me in my crazy costumes at camp every year! As of now, I’m also planning to be in Michigan and Philadelphia, definitely on the road.” We couldn’t imagine these events without them.

It’s difficult to put into words the effect that the 3-Day has on a person, whether they be a walker or crew member or some combination of both. Amy and Alison stand as two examples of people who embody a belief that you can’t help but share once you’ve felt the 3-Day magic. Alison sums it up perfectly: “I honestly can’t imagine my life without the 3-Day. I’ve seen a lot of things in 23 events, but one thing always stays the same: this is the most amazing, brave, beautiful, strong group of people I have ever met.”

 

Buzzing by Pit Stop 1 with Crew Captain Steve

On Day 1 the Michigan 3-Day, pit stop 1 is buzzing: from the contagious energy of fresh walkers just over 2 miles into their journey, to the excited and energized crew, to the beautiful weather shining down on the first 3-Day of the year. At the entrance of the pit stop, a friendly and familiar face greets each and every walker: “Hey, how are ya? What’s buzzin?” The welcoming smile of this person only grows more enthusiastic with each new walker, no doubt because every walker who sees him and his “jugs” laughs almost immediately upon sight.

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Steve, “Mr. BooBee”, at the 2014 Michigan 3-Day

Now, let’s be clear: on a breast cancer event, we can say “jugs” as a euphemism for breasts, but in this instance, we actually mean jugs – empty water jugs, the tip of each embellished with a fuzzy bee, googly eyes, pom-poms, and all. Welcome to the hive: this is pit stop 1, a BEE-utiful bumble bee themed pit stop, complete with fearless leader and crew captain Steve Z., a six-year supporter of the 3-Day. Steve was a self-proclaimed “walker stalker” for two years, supporting his fiancée as she walked. “Then I couldn’t take it any longer and HAD to join,” he said. “I walked the following year and crewed pit stop 2 the year after that.” He was promoted to crew captain last year, a role he’s returning to this year.

How did Steve hear about the 3-Day? “I really got brought to it by my fiancée, Barb. She has such a passion for this event, it’s infectious. She has two cousins who are survivors, my mom is a survivor and she and I have walked for Team Suze Cruise, where Sue has been an inspiration to so many.” Like so many other people involved with the 3-Day, Steve is struck by the numbing truth is that we all know somebody affected by breast cancer. “When I walk into the Remembrance Tent every year, I am so saddened, but steeled to fight breast cancer. To see the devastating effect it has on not only the person with the disease, but also their family and friends…. It’s heartbreaking.”

Some members of the BooBees at Michigan Pit Stop 1 at the 2014 3-Day

Some members of the BooBees at the 2014 Michigan -Day

We heard about Steve because of some amazing feedback about him from his fellow crew teams, and also because of the incredible kindness he (like all crew members) demonstrates to the Michigan walkers. “I’m very lucky. I have a great crew, who are friends more than ‘co-workers’ really. I have been lucky enough to make many friends here at the 3-Day. They make me a better person and captain,” he said. “I try to get to know each crew member, find their strengths and weaknesses, and work to their strengths, while supporting them with things they might need help with, always remembering that not everyone can do everything. It’s kind of that whole theme of this year’s crew message of ‘Inclusion.’ We ALL bring something to the party, so use those strengths to progress forward.”

While talking to Steve, it’s obvious that his leadership shines through compassion and the ability to understand a diverse group of people. Steve honed these skills in the army. “I was an Infantry Drill Sergeant, and at the Closing Ceremony, even an old drill sergeant gets misty.” (You’re not alone Steve – we think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t get misty at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 3-Day!)

“I can honestly say that the forced marches I did with my troops are every bit as hard as the walk for the 3-Day. Sixty miles in three days is a pretty damn impressive thing to accomplish. I’m proud to be a part of this event and organization,” Steve says, smiling, as he continues to cheer on walkers entering his pit stop. Steve’s contagious energy is drawing walkers into the hive like a beautiful flower, and as smiles erupt around him and his jugs, the spirit of the 3-Day shines through.

Crew members at Pit Stop 1 are all smiles handing out snacks bright and early today on Day 1 of the Michigan 3-Day.

Crew members at Pit Stop 1 are all smiles handing out snacks bright and early today on Day 1 of the Michigan 3-Day.