Our incredible community came together for the first-ever ever Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Nation, connecting with one another online and at live Pop-Ups across the country. During the online festivities of 3-Day Nation, we celebrated our Top Fundraisers. Please join us in congratulating all of our 2021 3-Day Nation Top Fundraisers!
Our Top Crew Fundraiser is Julia W., who raised nearly $3,200 for 3-Day Nation and has raised $9,575 in her lifetime. 3-Day Nation was Julia’s sixth time walking. Julia’s favorite pastime is photo coaching and journaling her photos.
Our Top Youth Corps Fundraiser is Grace R., who raised nearly $1,750 for 3-Day Nation. Grace has raised $3,183 in her lifetime across the three 3-Day events she has participated in. In her free time, Grace is currently learning how to knit from her grandmother!
Our Rookie of the Year is Debbie R., who raised nearly $10,800 as a new walker. 3-Day Nation was her first event as a part of the Pink Bubble. Debbie said, “We asked folks to join us on the last leg of our journey and held a cocktail and cookout celebration in our community. Seventy-five people came out!”
Our Top Individual Fundraiser is Peggy F., who raised nearly $35,000. She has raised $49,570 in her lifetime. 3-Day Nation was the second 3-Day event that Peggy has walked. Peggy can’t wait to get back onto the 3-Day so she can eat those addictive peanut butter and jelly graham cracker bars!
Our Small But Mighty Team (the team with 3-10 members that raised the most money) is Wild Women Walking for a Cure. They raised nearly $35,000 between their eight team members for 3-Day Nation and have participated in 3-Day events since 1998 across multiple cities. Wild Women Walking for a Cure have raised an amazing $1,110,456 as a team over their lifetime. They have had more than 150 women, men, and children ranging in age from 18 to 78 years old along with a service dog as part of the Wild Women Walking team over 20+ years. Their team captain Leslie C. said, “Every WWW has headgear we wear for every walk. Each of us make our own, have our own personal twist to them, and get together the Thursday night before Day 1 with all of our crafts and glue guns to add or give them facelifts.”
Our Top Fundraising Team for 2021 3-Day Nation is STEPS, who raised nearly $77,000. They have been a team for 13 years, walked in 27 3-Day events, and have raised a staggering total of $1,191,571. Their team captains Sheryl C. and Dana B. said, “We dedicate every training walk to someone who has been affected by breast cancer so that every step has a purpose and a name.” Team STEPS stands for Screening, Treatment, and Education Programs.
Thank you to these amazing fundraisers and all of the 2021 3-Day Nation walkers and crew members!
Please join us in congratulating our 2021 3-Day Nation Milestone Award Winner, Laura K! The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Milestone Award is given at each event to a participant who has an outstanding history of participation in the Komen 3-Day. Laura has been walking in the 3-Day since 2008 and has walked every year since, completing 16 3-Day walks.
Laura’s friend Kate told us about how genuinely giving she is saying, “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Milestone Award than Laura for her contributions and commitment to the 3-Day. Laura owns her own business, is devoted to her family, especially her new granddaughter, and is active in her church. Somehow, with all that she does for her community and friends she finds time to fundraise and train for the 3-Day. Laura is caring, compassionate, funny, and generous. She inspires me and all who know her to be better people. I am so proud to have known Laura for the last 13 years and to have her as a member of the Connecticut Pink Warriors.”
Fellow 3-Day walker, Cynthia, also had very kind words to say about her friend stating, “Laura is one of the most dedicated to the cause people I know. She goes above and beyond with fundraising every year. We met in 2010 doing the Boston 3-Day and have been friends ever since, walking together during the 3-Days, training together, and visiting when we can! And boy, when she walks, she walks! She has done many 60-mile 3-Days over the years! I love training with her, along with our friendship!”
Laura’s friend, Sharyn says, “I met Laura a long time ago through my involvement with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. We have walked many 3-Day events together and Laura’s commitment to find the cures is huge. She has walked for the past 13 years totaling 16 walks and has raised over $100,000 and is still going strong. Dedication, commitment, drive, ambition, and making a difference are all words that describe Laura. I’m thrilled the Milestone Award was given to her this year.”
What was your inspiration to do your first 3-Day?
I believe that everyone needs to have something in their life that they are passionate about and that challenges themselves to become a better person. I feel that we need to give back in whatever we do.
When my two sons were younger, my husband and I were involved with coaching them on various recreational sports teams. Once they reached high school and the teams became more competitive, they needed “real” coaches. Since I was not needed as a coach anymore, I needed something new to redirect my energy to. I saw an ad on TV about the 3-Day, so I went to one of the local meetings where one of the coaches shared her story about her diagnosis with breast cancer while she was in college. It inspired me, and I then found what I was meant to be doing. The friends I met over the years through the Pink Bubble have become an important part of my life. I ended up meeting Kate at this meeting, and we became fast friends. We challenged each other as we trained together.
At first this adventure was to challenge myself to walk 60 miles in three days. Then, I began to think about how many peoples’ lives were impacted by raising money for breast cancer research and awareness. That became a very rewarding adventure.
What has brought you back to the 3-Day year after year?
In a world where we are so busy, the 3-Day Pink Bubble has allowed me to really think about what is important in life. The 3-Day is always a weekend spent with wonderful friends where you become emotional, physically, and mentally exhausted as you are all fighting for a common cause. I know that may sound strange, but it is a humbling experience and recharges the soul. We all know of someone who has been impacted by breast cancer and can see the toll that it has on them and their family. I always remember the sign from past 3-Day events that says, “Walking 60 miles is easier than breast cancer treatments.”
What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success?
I am very fortunate to have a career in financial planning where I am surrounded by people who are charitable, and they all know of someone who has had breast cancer. They too want to help make a difference in this world, so their donations always add up. Part of my job is to help them achieve their financial goals, and it is sad to see their dreams impacted by a breast cancer diagnosis. Even though they are not walking with me physically, their stories and memories of their loved ones are with me each step of the way.
What is your best advice to anyone walking the 3-Day?
Have fun, meet as many people as you can, share your stories, train for the walk, and believe that you can make a difference.
What’s a fun fact about you?
I love to garden and make the world a prettier place.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day?
I believe the strides Komen has been making to raise breast cancer awareness and the importance of early detection is really making a difference in the lives of those impacted. I am still hopeful that the cures are found for this disease during my lifetime. I have a 6-month-old granddaughter, and I hope she never has to experience hearing that someone she loves is diagnosed with breast cancer. The 3-Day is making a difference and building a community that I am so glad that I can be a part of!
Join us in congratulating Laura! THANK YOU for your contributions to the Komen 3-Day over the last 13 years!
For the final entry in our “Word of the Year” series, we give the blog over to Heidi S., who has found JOY amidst profoundly difficult circumstances.
Hi. My name is Clear’ly Nuts, and I’m a 3-Day Addict. My journey with the 3-Day started in 2001 when my best friend Jennifer Clear was diagnosed with breast cancer about two weeks after her daughter was born. After a mastectomy, radiation, and too many brutal rounds of chemotherapy, she was pronounced cancer-free in 2002. Almost exactly five years after that pronouncement, she contracted metastatic breast cancer in her liver and passed away at 39.
I. Was. Angry. I wanted to do something. I NEEDED to do something, and it had to be something BIG. So in 2009, I signed up to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. In order for me to sign up, I had to enlist the help of my family. I was a single mom, you see, of an orange-haired phenom named Noah. He, as my niece puts it, was “especially needed,” and he could not stay at home by himself (no matter how much he thought he could). With their help, I raised the funds and embarked on a 3-Day journey in Chicago, what I thought at the time was a one-and-done experience.
IT WAS HARD. IT WAS HOT, I was UNDERTRAINED, my feet were ACHING, and I VOWED TO THE DEPTH OF MY VERY SOUL that I would never, ever, EVER do it AGAIN. And then, in the very last mile of these 60 arduous miles[MS1] , it clicked. I walked—well, limped—whimpering, into the participant finish area, where hundreds of walkers, crew, staff, families and friends were screaming and cheering and celebrating. This tremendous outpouring of JOY, love, and celebration reached out and grabbed me by the heart (and the eyeballs, I was ugly crying, not going to lie) and dragged me over that finish line, screaming “YES! YOU DID IT! Now, sign up to do it again.”
So, I did. But this time? I got smart. I wised up. I found the leader of the ONE training walk I had gone on (yes, one, because who would need to train?) and begged her to let me join her team, the Coconutter Strutters. Well, not just me—us. Remember the orange-haired phenom? We came as a boxed set. He was my sidekick in all things, my wingman, my Little Biscuit. Anyway, she, possibly to her dismay, welcomed the two of us. And we became Coconuts.
So, I did it again. And again, and again and again. Noah and I, we trained, we raised funds, we walked in the Race for the Cure, and he became the Coconuts’ biggest fan. We became a part of the Coconutter Strutter family, and we began to make plans. When he turned 18, he would honor his “Aunt” Jenny’s memory by walking the Michigan 3-Day with his beloved Coconuts.
By that time, epilepsy had come. The constant seizures stole his walk, his voice, and his independence. But it did NOT steal his joy and laughter, love and light, and it did NOT steal his love for his Coconuts and for doing big things. I was scared. He used a wheelchair by then, and not independently. How was I going to do it? How was I going to push this Rollin’ Coconut all 60 miles? I was worried, but I had forgotten about one thing. The Coconuts. It was a forgone conclusion that, whatever Rollin’ wanted, Rollin’ got, and if he wanted to take the 60-mile journey, then by God, he would do so. So we signed up. And we fundraised, we plotted, we planned, we got excited, we became hopeful, and we started to get ready.
But Episucky had other plans for our Orange-Haired Teen, and in February 2016, the year he would have gone 60 miles with us, he left this Earth for bigger and better things. When he was sick and so very tired, I read the book “Waterbugs and Dragonflies,” written by an angel named Doris Stickney. This book explained to him what was happening, why he was getting so very tired, giving him permission to let go and become the Dragonfly, heading off to bigger and better things than what was here for him on Earth. He was comforted, and he stopped being scared and tired, and with the same sweetness, joy and laughter, love and light that he lived with, he winged off into the bright world of sun and air.
Being Rollin’ Coconut’s mom taught me so many things, but one of the biggest lessons is this: every day, no matter how hard it is, you get brave, you get up, and you get on with it. And you do it with joy and laughter, love and light. So, that’s what we, who were left here on Earth, have chosen to do. We took him in our hearts on our walk that year in Michigan, handing out the story and dragonflies to everyone we could, merging his joy with theirs.
Every year since then, we see those dragonflies on walkers’ packs and lanyards, and it warms our hearts. We have Dragonfly Moments on every walk—moments when we are tired, we *might* be a little cranky and sick of walking—and then we see a dragonfly. Hovering around us, bouncing off of our heads, dive bombing our faces, or resting on our hands, as if to say, “Get it together ladies! You got this! Find your joy! Get brave, get up and get on with it!” And we laugh, we find our joy, and we do exactly that.
Noah would have been 21 in 2018. In his honor, and in Jenny’s memory, I decided to step WAY out of my comfort zone and do a big thing. I decided to walk in all seven 3-Day cities that year. And my team, my amazing, glorious family of Coconuts? They plotted, planned, and they made it so.
On that seven-city journey, I learned that, while cancer sucks, there are thousands of people out there determined to make a difference in the fight. They have dedicated their lives, their time, talent and treasure to beating this unacceptable disease. They walk tirelessly, they fundraise relentlessly, and they have formed a joyful community—strangers who are family.
So, if you’ve read all that, you might have guessed that my word for 2021 is Joy. A tiny little word that packs a huge punch. Joy is a gift that should be given and received freely, with no reservation, and it binds us all together. Joy is contagious; it costs nothing, and once it is sparked within your heart, it will warm you to your very fingertips and toes.
My 3-Day community has brought sparks of joy to me in my darkest days, it has fanned its flames, and it has celebrated with me when it has raged like an inferno. My advice to all who are reading this in 2021: find your joy. It might be a spark in your darkest days, or an inferno in your brightest. Find it, share it, and it will be returned to you.
What brings you JOY in your dark days? How has the 3-Day community supported you when you needed it?Thank you for joining us for our “Word of the Year” series.