Happy Incredible Kid Day! We have plenty of Incredible Kids as a part of our 3-Day family, so this day is always a fun and exciting one to recognize the future of our pink family. They are the next generation of walkers, crew members, supporters and more. Every kid who joins this journey is making a difference towards reaching Komen’s Bold Goal.
One amazing (or incredible!) example of that is Jaden C. from the Atlanta 3-Day. He started off as a walker stalker, then Youth Corps member, and is now walking the full 60 miles alongside his “Nana” Gwen this year. This journey, she says, is all part of a promise that Jaden made to her years ago.
“I am overcome with pride to see Jaden’s continued commitment and dedication to the fight to end breast cancer! I could not have imagined he would ever be walking the 3-Day. He kept the promise he made as a new Youth Corps member years ago, which was to walk the 60 mile 3-Day as soon as he was old enough!”
Nana was also the catalyst in Jaden’s joining the Youth Corps in his younger years. She encouraged him to apply, and he says he was “lucky” to be accepted. Since then, he has made friends and new family on the 3-Day.
Jaden says, “My Youth Corps involvement was an amazing experience over the past several years. I have met so many friends that I now consider family. We stay in touch and have formed a bond that can never be broken. Participation in the Youth Corps has changed my perspectives about commitment, dedication, determination and leadership in many areas of my life.
It’s personal and means so much to me in ways that many people wouldn’t understand. My Youth Corps friends promised we would someday all walk together as a team. I’ve wanted to walk for years and to finally be so close to doing so means the world to me. I can’t wait!”
He is only months away from walking his first 60-mile 3-Day, and Jaden has already begun training and preparing. This spring, he will use his Track and Field practices to help sneak in extra training and has no doubt he will meet, or even exceed, his fundraising goals. He is motivated to keep his promise to his Nana, and all the walkers he has supported in years past.
“The camaraderie of people, the environment, the overall family affair aspect of the 3-Day, the celebration throughout Atlanta, and keeping my promise…That’s all what I’m most looking forward to.”
Jaden truly is More Than Pink.
But, when we asked him who is More Than Pink in his own life, Jaden’s answer was easy. It all came back to his Nana.
“My grandmother (my Nana) is more than pink! She works hard for our family on a constant basis regardless of how she may feel. She’s battled through breast cancer before and, years prior to her diagnosis, lost her sister (who she watched battle this disease on more than one occasion), and she has had to adjust to a “new normal.” She encourages other survivors who now come to her with concerns and questions about her experience.
She has continued to walk and support the 3-Day for years. Nana and I walked together as 20-milers last year as the VA DUO! It was a privilege and pleasure to team up with her to walk in my aunt Debbie’s memory and in my Nana’s honor as a survivor. We crossed the finish line as a family along with Pink Angel Divas!
I will be her legs and strength this year! The journey is not over!”
Gwen echoes his excitement, love and support.
“I am so proud of this young man who has fought to overcome so many obstacles in life. I believe his determination and outlook can be attributed, in part, to the experiences and lessons learned as part of the 3-Day family!
We (his family) are all so proud of him for embarking on this incredible journey for such a worthy cause because for us, IT’S PERSONAL!”
We are honored to be a part of your journey, Jaden and Gwen. We can’t wait to see you take on those incredible 60 miles in October in Atlanta.
For the 2017 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season, we’re honored to be featuring the Local Impact Award. This award is being given to participants who have been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day® community throughout the year. Local Impact Award honorees have gone above and beyond in their efforts leading training walks, attending 3-Day community events. They have also supported the 3-Day staff year-round at meet-ups and workshops, and in general, been making a difference by building lasting relationships and showing commitment to the 3-Day in all they do.
Please join us in congratulating the 2017 Philadelphia 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Stephanie Hartman.
This is her 7th year as Captain of the Youth Corps and 12th year participating in the 3Day. She has raised more than $1,400 this year!
Where does she get all her 3-Day spirit? Let’s hear from Steph! When we asked her these questions, she didn’t know she would soon be selected as our winner!
What was your inspiration to do your first 3-Day?
I began participating in the 3-Day in memory of my mother. I have been involved with the Race for the Cure since I was 8 years old (in Philadelphia, in Pittsburgh during college, and recently DC). When I heard about the 3Day, I knew it was a way for me to do more and honor my mother’s death.
My mother was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer at the age of 33. She had a mastectomy after a mass was found. She was 2 months pregnant with me. Further scans showed the cancer had spread throughout her body including her vertebrae, skull, and sternum. She began chemotherapy when she was 10.5 weeks pregnant. At 13 weeks pregnant, she had her ovaries removed after metastatic tumor deposits were found. She continued treatment for the duration of the pregnancy. I was born premature but healthy.
At the young age of 36, my mother’s battle with breast cancer ended. I was only 2 years old. My mother left behind her loving husband (my father) and 6 children (ages 2-16).
My first inspiration was for my mother, my sisters, my nieces, and myself.
What has brought you back to the 3-Day year after year?
I have many reasons for coming back year after year. Obviously, my initial reasons: to honor my mother and because I don’t believe any child should grow up without a mother, but as I have participated over the past 11 years, I have gained more and more reasons.
The 3-Day has brought me a 2nd family. When I first started the 3-Day, I thought breast cancer automatically meant death. I was afraid for myself and my family, and thought it was an inevitable future. Because I was so young when my mother died, I didn’t see her struggles or her strength as she went through treatment and still raised my siblings and I. Through the 3-Day, I have met so many strong survivors and fighters and I have been touched by so many stories.
My most recent reason is my 6-year-old family! 😉 I became involved with the youth corps in 2011, the inaugural year in Philly. Growing up without a mother, I immediately wanted to be involved with the youth corps to help support youth. Through the youth, we have developed a very close knit family. Since 2011, we have had 96 different yc members in Philadelphia. Growing up, we never talked about my mom’s cancer or death. I often felt alone in the grief of the loss. I never want any of these youths to feel alone. I keep in contact with every member. We have reunions and get-togethers every year. These youths and their families keep me coming back year after year. I have made bonds with the families, and have added more and more reasons to my list of fighters, survivors, and angels.
Of these 96 youth, 20 have walked AT LEAST 1 event, 7 have crewed including 5 that have served as leaders on the youth corps, and a handful that have come to camp to volunteer as camp angels.
What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success?
I have been very fortunate to have family and friends support me through donations over the past 11 years. Most of my most successful have been group fundraisers with the youth corps. We have held coin drops, beef and beers, set up tables at craft fairs, and most recently have helped to run a baseball invitational. My nephews are members of a travel team in Towamencin, PA. The Towamencin Travel Baseball teams host a breast cancer invitational to raise money for the cause. Over the past few years, the youth corps has been very fortunate to help at the event by gathering raffle baskets before the event and by selling raffle tickets, 50/50 tickets, and merchandise at the event.
As a team, we surpassed the $150,000-mark last year. The youth corps has been very creative with their fundraising. They have organized triathlons, bike races, dance classes, self-defense classes, and in school fundraisers.
What is your best advice to anyone walking the 3-Day?
Before event: Train. Train. Then train some more. (I have not trained for any of my walks. I said I was going to and have advised other too, but “I’m a runner so I don’t have to.” Haha… Quickly did I learn that running and walking are not the same thing at all!)
On event: Have fun! You have already done the hard part. You have already raised over $2300…. This weekend is a celebration! Make lots of connections with others. Talk to them – tell them your story and ask for their story. Don’t hurt yourself trying to do all 60 if your body needs a break. Crossing the finish line on Day 3 is amazing – so pace yourself and enjoy the weekend! You need to be able to walk and function at work on Monday.
After event: 1- Sign up again! J 2- Keep in touch with those you connected with. We are all family!
What’s a fun fact about you?
It may come as a surprise, but I am a demi-god molded from clay and given life by Zeus. That’s right, I am WONDER WOMAN!
Okay… so maybe I’m not Wonder Woman but I do like to think I have boundless energy and am able to save the world.
All of my favorite ‘jobs’ involve children. Aside from my day job of inspiring and teaching middle schoolers in Philly or past jobs of social work or nannying, I constantly surround myself with children. I am the proud aunt of 7 nephews and 3 nieces (2 of whom live in Hawaii). You can often find me cheering them on while they play various sports, building LEGOs, or acting like a kid on some crazy adventure.
My newest amazing adventures have come at the hands of a smart and silly 4-year-old. I have been very lucky to have found a new ‘job’ in helping the love of my life raise his beautiful daughter. (Yes, I now know every word to every song in Moana…)
It’s no wonder that I jumped at the opportunity to captain the youth corps in 2011! So, maybe I’m not Wonder Woman, but I think spending my time with all the kids in my life make my life even more special than being a demi-god.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day?
Not to be afraid to open. Not to be afraid to accept help (I’m still not good at number at this!), and – We are family!
Open up: I have met so many amazing people of the years that I have come to know as family. I am one to want to help others and to hear other’s stories. I have learned to open up more and have enjoyed talking about my mother and my initial reason for doing the 3-Day.
Accept help: I am still learning. As a walker, in both Philly and Michigan, the lovely crew have made sure that I care for myself even when I have been trying to help others. J As YC Captain, I luckily have amazing leaders (and youth) on my team that have made sure I take care of myself on event.
We are family: I have met some amazing people over the years. Life is not always a straight path that can be planned for. It is often winding with crazy ups and downs, and some plateaus in between. We are a family. These amazing people you have met will be there for you through the good and bad, and you will be there for them.
On behalf of all of us walking, crewing, and supporting the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, thank you Steph. We can’t wait to see all your pink 3-Day spirit on future events!
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.
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.”
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.”
Hope 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!”
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.
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.