The 3-Day, in the words of walker Alisen D.

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Often, we take for granted the steps we take in our daily lives. The mundane one foot in front of the other. Unless, of course, you are a 3-Dayer.

Then your world, and those steps you take on a pink path, have a whole different meaning.

The ground beneath your feet become an anthem… a promise… a yearly reminder of why thousands of men and women (and children) join together across the nation in unity, in a vast sea of pink.

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My name is Alisen Dupre and I made a promise back in 2002 to my mother, Pam Morris, when I signed up for my very first 3-Day event. My mom was diagnosed in 1997 with breast cancer at the age of 53. She had her mastectomy, chemotherapy and reconstruction all within a year.

At the young age of 22, I was by her side and was her caregiver, (what later would be called a “co-survivor”) and saw firsthand what the disease would do to her body and her spirit. Through it all we stood strong and weathered the storm together.

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A year later I moved cross country from Pennsylvania, where she lived, to California. Fast forward to February 2011. I had already walked the 3-Day seven times in California (in Los Angles & San Diego), four times in Philadelphia, once in Tampa, once in Washington, D.C. and had been a Crew Member for Camp Logistics in San Diego (2007 & 2009). I was also a part of the Nationwide Mentor program, not to mention being a walker stalker twice as well. It is a joyous time in my life, as I was three months pregnant with my son Chase!

However, life is a very delicate balancing act, and it was about to throw something my way. I got the phone call that every person dreads. My mom called me and told me that the cancer had returned. The breast cancer gene mutated and metastasized into ovarian cancer. Stage 4. Honestly, I didn’t hear much after the word “terminal”. I was able to be with my mom on two visits back East and she saw me in all my pregnant glory and felt Chase move around in my swollen belly up until my eight month. My due date was July 31st, and she lost her courageous fight July 25th. Chase arrived later than expected on August 9th. Dealing with life and death at the same time was the most humbling experience of my life.

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Chase is a very special kid even now. After his birth in 2011, I walked San Diego that year with him on the route, making his walker stalker debut. He was only 4 months old. He was then known as “The Boobie Baby.” I created a special hat for him and ever since then he has been on route cheering the walkers on. He has since outgrown that little hat and has become “The TaTa Toddler.”

In 2013, I was given the extreme honor of being able to carry the “Mother” flag in San Diego, and spoke at Opening Ceremonies about why I walk. I walk so that children and grandchildren may experience life’s wonderful moments with their loved ones.

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At Closing, Chase, The TaTa Toddler, was wearing a shirt I made him that read, “You Walk for The NaNa I Never Knew… Thank You” He was on stage with me in front of all the walkers, crew, family and friends, and was dancing as if it was the greatest day ever. And it WAS.

I’ve since walked in a hurricane in Philly in 2015, which was my most challenging year, but was also the most awesome event as it was my homecoming homage to my mother.

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Every year Chase and I return to cheer on his beloved, “Pink Ribbon Boobie Walkers” (as he lovingly calls all the walkers). He now once again has outgrown his TaTa Toddler name and hat, and is now known as “The Boobie Boy.” He looks forward each year to going to San Diego to high five, cheer, ring his cow bell, pass out stickers, hug his friends and live in the Pink Bubble that we all have come to love so much.

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This year there was a new twist to our stalker trip. One that touched me to my very core. Chase wanted to go into the Remembrance Tent and write a message to Grandma Pam. He told me he wanted to keep his message short and put it in a heart. He asked me for some spelling help and then he was done. In a big heart, in the lower left-hand corner of the tent: Chase Loves Pam.

Then he did something that neither I nor anyone within earshot I think will ever forget. He knows I carry my mom’s small urn of ashes with me on event. It’s silver with a small pink ribbon etched into the middle. “Mom, may I please have Grandma Pam’s Ashes?”

When I asked him why, he said, “I’d like to pray.”

And there he sat, with the sunlight shining behind him, holding her ashes, with eyes closed in silence. Having a moment.

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This is why I walk. This is why I cannot walk away. My son and I will always be there stalking, even if I am not walking. But I, for one, will never take for granted the steps that any one of my fellow pink friends take. That is why we cheer you on all three days! The Pink Community surrounded my family in so much support during the transitional period between my mother’s passing, my son’s birth, and beyond! How could we not repay you in kind? We just love you THAT MUCH!!!

We love you with all our hearts.

Alisen Dupre and Chase aka “Boobie Boy” Dupre 

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A 3-Day Family Affair: Mother’s Day with Heather Morse

Some moms will spend this Mother’s Day weekend at brunch or the spa, on a vacation with their families, or even by simply taking the day to sleep in and relax. For others, including mother and 3-Dayer Heather Morse, this Sunday will mean a town-wide canning event to raise money for her long-time 3-Day team “Cup Crusaders.” Luckily, Heather wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Joined by her family, including three sons aged 16 to 29, Heather will once again be supporting the 3-Day this year, and that includes on Mother’s Day.

Being a mom has shaped much of Heather’s experience with the 3-Day family, including speaking at 3-Day camp in San Diego last year.

“My sons didn’t know I was doing it until that night, but I thought it was important for them to see. I wanted them to see what I was capable of. I wanted them to see the inspiration, and the hope and why it was so important to me.”

That was evident in her speech, where she broke out her 3-Day journey into steps. She walks her initial 8,000 steps for her boys, because they come first in her life. The following steps are for all the other children’s parents who have the disease and everyone with loved ones who are fighting.

“I wanted it to be more impactful and inspirational, but put a little humor in it. I even talked about lunch where you laugh and cry and talk with people. You can feel alone when you have this diagnosis, but ever since I’ve done the 3-Day I’ve had an outlet and a support group to not feel so alone.”

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Her first breast cancer diagnosis came before her involvement with the 3-Day, but once she was re-diagnosed, Heather realized it was something she had to do. She started off by crewing, and then joined a team to walk those 60 miles. After the first few years, her youngest son joined the Youth Corps to support her and last year, all three of her sons walked side-by-side with her as she continues to fight Stage IV breast cancer.

That diagnosis was the original reason she became a part of the 3-Day, because she wanted to meet others also battling Stage IV. She was looking for a “little hope” from a new support system, and the one she found has also become a support group for her boys.

“It has made me feel so proud, and I was so happy that they were getting an outlet as well. It makes me happy for them to see so many cancer survivors, because it gives them hope.”

20170509_122911Hope and passion are something Heather and her family have in spades, as is evidenced by their increasing involvement in the cause. This involvement begins, and continues, with fundraising.

Though her family was involved with her fundraising efforts “since day one,” that fundraising has grown and evolved over the years. In addition to her annual Mother’s Day canning event, Heather and her team also fundraise on their personal social media channels, at local restaurants, and with a motorcycle barbecue.

“We do a motorcycle ride every year where people pay to be part of a guided motorcycle ride, and then there is also a whole BBQ with live music and vendors. We’ve done it for a few years so almost everything is donated, and we raised around $3,500 last year. Then we had a few local companies do a $1,000 match as well, so we end up making even more for our team!”

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The key, she says, is to look professional, and take your fundraising as seriously as possible.

“You need to have posters and signs and dress in pink and present yourself well. Really try to look as legitimate as possible!”

It is the fundraising aspect that makes the 3-Day truly unique in Heather’s eyes.

“It’s amazing the people that you meet and how they touch your lives,” she says. “This raises so much wonderful money, and so much awareness for Stage IV. When you do the fundraising, you meet a lot of people. You touch a lot of people, and they touch you. You learn their stories! And then on the 3-Day you become a family.”

Morse is, of course, lucky to always have her own family on event with her. This is what she is looking forward to most for 2017; seeing her sons walk and captain the Youth Corps again. She can’t wait to watch them succeed along with her friends and breast cancer survivors.

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These wins, and positive successes, are part of what keeps her going year after year.

“The biggest thing in the world, and one of the ways you survive, is keeping your psychological part of your body healthy.  If you keep your mind healthy, that helps keep your body healthy. Being positive and keeping busy and active, I think plays a direct role in your physical health.”

That’s why you’ll see Heather out and moving with her family this weekend, and this coming 3-Day.

Celebrating Incredible Kids: The Susan G. Komen 3-Day Youth Corps

March 15th is Incredible Kids Day, and we know a group of kids who can be described as nothing less than incredible: the Komen 3-Day Youth Corps! These courageous kids apply, are selected, and have to fundraise at least $500 to join us on event. While they’re on the 3-Day, their tasks can range from anything to helping pass out lunch to cheering on the tired walkers. On the 3-Day when you see a flash of yellow, you’ll no doubt see smiling kids, perking up everyone around them. On Saturday in Camp, our Youth Corps gets up and shares the compelling reasons why they wanted to be involved. This moment is no doubt always filled with a few tears and big smiles.

We asked our Facebook community to share a few stories about the Youth Corps they know and love. Please join us by sharing your own special Youth Corps story in the comments, and let’s give a round of applause to these incredible, caring kids!

Julie Jokinen The Youth Corps is amazing! In Philly as I was walking to the restroom at breakfast the kids were at their tables still a little bit sleepy. I yelled “Good morning, Youth Corps.” I got a small response so I said “You can do better than that!” so I yelled again and they all jumped up and yelled good morning.
As we were leaving to start day 2 one of the girls came up and handed me a ribbon; she said that they were given ribbons to give to someone that inspired them. She said I had the energy they needed that morning and she wanted to return the favor. Whenever I saw her the next two days, we would hug and check on each other.

 

Mandie Reid My son, Aiden Daly, was a first time Youth Corps member in Philly last year and it truly changed him (for the good) and changed me. I was a walker and was approached on numerous occasions throughout the event advising me of how Aiden was so kind, compassionate, helpful, sweet, etc. and not to mention how he really made walkers laugh and smile at times when they needed it the most. Additionally, I was told what a great hugger he was. Now, I know that he is all of these things but it was simply confirmed when my awesome pink family continuously told me so. Oh, and not only did he help my fellow walkers but he helped me when I couldn’t walk due the severe blisters on my feet on day 1 and he even put my tent up. Having him experience the 3-Day has allowed him to become even more understanding, loving, and empathetic. He now is interested in applying for not one, but at least two events this year because he wants to make a difference. He also now considers the 3-Day his family. Thank you to all for this.

 Photo Courtesy of Mandie Reid

 

Dan Love It really was a special opportunity for our son Josh to be a part of the Youth Corps for the first time last year. As long-time participants, mom and dad would be away for the weekend in years past. Now he understands the power, beauty, and awesomeness of the event.

 

“His tent area felt just like home… stuff everywhere,” said Dad, Dan Love. (Photo Courtesy of Dan Love)

 

Linda Simons On day 2, I was sitting on the ground all alone at lunch on the Philadelphia 3-Day last year when this wonderful young man from Youth Corps came over and sat down to join me so I wasn’t alone. An incredible young man! Then two other Youth Corps members joined us. It was the sweetest moment of my weekend! We all had a great talk and I shared my story with them. I will be a 16-year survivor in August and it will be my 7th walk! Youth Corps members are so important and what an awesome experience for them all! Youth Corps ROCKS! Great job! Hoping to see you again this year, Justin!

Photo Courtesy of Linda Simons

Sherri Hallman My niece Bailey Winter was on Philly Youth Corps last year. The route had been changed to include a huge hill in Manayunk. Bailey found us at the pit stop right before the big hill on Day 2. She showed her Mom a “special” ribbon that she was supposed to give to someone who inspires her. Her Mom said “Oh are you going to give it to me?”. Bailey replied “No” and she got up and walked over to ME, pinned her ribbon on me and told me that I inspire her! I kept looking down at that ribbon the whole way up that hill and I kept on going until I reached the top! I just kept looking at that ribbon thinking “Well, I have to keep going because I can’t inspire my niece to quit!”

 

Knowing that the Youth Corps are our future makes us feel proud and grateful. See more stories from our 3-Day community here! Want your child or an incredible kid you know to be a part of this life-changing event? Hurry, applications for the 2017 3-Day Youth Corps end on March 15!