Never Giving Up: Meet Nikki S., Former AVON 39 Walker

Nikki (left) and her Aunt Lynne

“My aunt was a mother figure to me.  She had a huge hand in raising me, teaching me right from wrong, explaining all the joys of being a woman (lol), and so much more. She was my biggest supporter, my biggest fan, and wasn’t afraid to tell it how it is. Honestly, I don’t know how I would’ve turned out if it wasn’t for having her and my uncle in my life.”

Many of our 3-Dayers have lost loved ones to breast cancer, but that never makes hearing their stories any easier. It just adds to the motivation, focus, and determination to finding a cure. No one knows this better than Nikki S., who has been both a 3-Day and AVON 39 walker in the past.

She will be returning to the 3-Day this year in memory of her aunt and godmother, Lynne. Having walked in Boston in the past, Nikki knew she could not hang up her walking shoes after the AVON 39 left her home state, and so will be journeying to Philadelphia this September to walk for a cure. Coach Tisho is already “so excited to introduce her to the rest of our family,” and Nikki echoes that excitement as well.

“I am excited for the opportunity to continue to support the cause. Even with AVON no longer being offered, I needed to continue walking in my Auntie Lynne’s honor.”

Lynne’s husband, Nikki’s uncle

Her Aunt Lynne was first diagnosed with breast cancer when Nikki was young, and watching her courageous fight inspired Nikki to first join the 3-Day when she was in college.

“Being a stupid college student, I was pretty confident that I could walk the 60 miles without training AND wearing sneakers I had bought the week before. Funny, huh?! I made it through the first day and a half, until I couldn’t walk through the blisters anymore. I had to shuttle back to camp and call my aunt to come pick me up! We had a good laugh, and she was still proud of me for raising the money, supporting the cause, and trying.”

A few years later, Lynn’s cancer had progressed to metastatic stage 4, found in her lungs and throughout her bones. Nikki began walking the AVON 39 in Boston for Lynne. Sadly, in 2016, Lynne lost her battle — and Nikki lost her dear aunt.

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When asked to describe the importance of the 3-Day, and breast cancer walks, she recalled memories of those tough times.

“Watching my Aunt’s health quickly deteriorate; Hearing her wish she could just go back to work and have normalcy; Having her there to listen to my “bad days” and offer advice, while she never complained about her treatment; Wanting more time and more of her advice; Seeing my Grammy and Grampy lose their first born; Watching my Uncle grieve the loss of his ‘bride’ after their 28 years of marriage and a lifetime of love; The heartbreak that my daughter still goes through, missing her Auntie.”

It is heartbreak that motivates Nikki and keeps her working towards a cure.

She’ll be heading to Philadelphia as a Super Fundraiser (she has raised more than $20,000 in total over the years for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® and the AVON 39) and has a unique success strategy to reach her fundraising goals.

“I would like to surpass my fundraising from last year. I had organized and hosted a very successful comedy show fundraiser, and hope to do the same this year.  It was a great experience, and a great way to attack my fundraising goal.”

We are honored to welcome Nikki back to the 3-Day family this year. Alongside Nikki, we walk for Auntie Lynne. We will never give up.

Honoring a Mother’s Legacy of Love: Meet Ryan D. of the Philadelphia 3-Day

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“I walk 60 miles so my wife, daughter, friends and those I don’t even know, don’t have to fear this disease. I walk so every grandchild can be spoiled by their grandmothers. I walk today so others will not have to walk tomorrow. I walk because everyone deserves a lifetime.”

Mother’s Day is a chance to honor the women who mean the most to us, whether they are able to celebrate with us or not. For Philadelphia 3-Dayer Ryan D., this means that on Sunday he will not only be celebrating his wife, the mother of his children, but also the mother he lost to breast cancer.

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“Mother’s Day is one of the days I do take time and specifically reflect on my mother and remember all of the great Mother’s Day we celebrated.”

He has been walking “For Mama Doc” since losing her in 2011, spreading her loving and giving spirit with every step he takes. On this holiday, and always, he wants to ensure that no one else loses a mother to breast cancer. The 3-Day, he says, is a new part of his family, and one that helps him remember his mother in the best ways.

“I really wish everyone who has been impacted by this terrible disease could experience a 3-Day at least once, and I can tell you for sure it wouldn’t be their last. It is even hard for me to verbalize what the experience is. There is just something to be said about walking when you are sore and both physically and emotionally spent, to then have a car honk their horn or have someone say, ‘Thank you for walking.’ […] The 3-Days have been some amazing moments of my life.”

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In addition to his 3-Day family, he has been able to share his experience with his brother, who joined Ryan’s mission, and started walking in 2016. They were motivated, in part, to walk together because Philadelphia’s Closing Ceremony that year fell on what would have been their mother’s birthday. They walked all sixty miles together, and each crossed the finish line with their young daughters in their arms. Seeing the 3-Day anew from his brother’s eyes, Ryan says, brought them even closer.

“You can never truly appreciate what a 3-Day truly means until you participate in one. And I saw firsthand the awe on my brother’s face while he walked the first few miles and experienced these things that are so hard to explain.”

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Other family members support them, with Ryan’s dad even walking next to him for a few miles of Ryan’s first ever walk in 2012. They also have helped Ryan raise nearly $25,000 for the 3-Day cause, a landmark he hopes to pass this year. He also looks forward to once again feeling the support of the 3-Day community this fall.

This support is one he especially appreciates given that it was so important to his own mother to support those battling breast cancer. Following her initial recovery from breast cancer in 2009, she mentored countless people suffering from cancer by offering comfort and advice. Though “through the path of recovery there is tremendous uncertainty, fear, pain and self-esteem issues,” Ryan saw his mother provide support, guidance and empathy. This is true to how she lived her whole life, and how Ryan hopes to live his to best honor her legacy.

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“During these last years, my Mom has missed many wonderful events, which include her youngest son’s wedding, witnessing the births of her two beautiful granddaughters and a grandson. I walk to help ensure that no other family misses these special moments with their mothers.”

Ryan walks, and will never quit, for mothers everywhere. Today, and always, hold your family close, and remember that you walk for a reason. You walk for Ryan, for “Mama Doc,” and for families all over the world. And you will never quit either, until we end breast cancer forever.

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Siblings Side by Side: Meet Kathy and Chuck of Robb’s Ralliers at the Twin Cities 3-Day

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Our siblings can be our best friends that stick by our sides through all the years to come. They know our secrets, share memories, cheer us on and (sometimes) drive us a little crazy. But they’re family. We are lucky to have many siblings of all ages walking together on 3-Days across the country, and today, for Sibling’s Day, we are highlighting a special family duo: Kathy and Chuck H. from the Twin Cities 3-Day.

Kathy is a survivor, and has been a dedicated 3-Dayer since its first year in the Twin Cities in 2004. After being her “biggest cheerleader” that first year, Chuck joined his sister in 2005, and they have been walking together ever since.

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Kathy says, “Chuck and I have always had an amazing relationship.  The three days of the walk each year just give us time to connect in person and remind each other just how lucky we are!”

They truly show that family luck and support, adding Kathy’s daughter Megan to their team, Robb’s Ralliers, in 2016 after she was a three-time Youth Corps member, and last year Chuck’s son Cody also walked with their family. The rest of the clan comes out in full force to support Robb’s Ralliers all along the route with signs and cheers.

“We were raised in a strong family environment and taught that being there for your family is just something that you do.  The 3-Day is just a personification of this belief,” Chuck says.

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“While not all our family members walk, our entire family participates in some manner.  For me it is less about the lessons that I can learn and more about passing along values to my children.  My son, Cody, was a first-time walker in 2017 and will be back for 2018.  I have seen his commitment to the cure strengthen his relationship with his Aunt “Kate” and I can’t tell you how proud he makes me.  My daughter, Elanore, is twelve years old and she has never not known the 3-Day.”

In addition to their children, spouses, and family members, their parents continue to be Chuck and Kathy’s biggest supporters.

“Our parents are our biggest supporters, and are there for us from Opening to Closing Ceremonies.  For the Robbs, the 3-Day is an annual tradition.  It is all about commitment, strength, support, perseverance, and love and our family members all have their own way of showing the importance of these values,” Chuck explains.

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These values extend off the 3-Day trail and into the everyday life of their family as well. This is thanks to, of course, their own family, but also the family they have built in the Twin Cities 3-Day.

Even after 13 years of walking, Kathy still lights up talking about her pink bubble. “The Twin Cities 3-Day is filled with so many wonderful people—repeat walkers, repeat crew members and repeat staff members.  Everyone has an amazing story to share […]  The beauty of the Twin Cities and the weather in August is a bonus.  For me, it’s all about the people—coming together every year for three days—so many laughs, many tears shed and so much love!”

Both Kathy and Chuck say that the love and lessons they experience on the 3-Day enforce the foundation of love built throughout their family, and in their own relationship. Chuck calls Kathy “the strongest person I know and second place isn’t even close,” saying, “her will to fight and persevere never ceases to amaze me.” In turn, Kathy praises Chuck’s “huge heart and deep-rooted love for his family” …plus his amazing hugs!

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Both siblings are already signed up for the Twin Cities 3-Day in 2018, and Kathy will also be walking her second year in San Diego. Though they might not walk every mile side by side, you can bet they are cheering each other on, crossing the finish line as a family that will never quit.

Happy Sibling’s Day to Kathy, Chuck, and all our 3-Day sibling participants! If you walk with your sibling, share your favorite 3-Day memories with them below!

And, for more stories about siblings, visit this piece about the Cummings sisters.