60 Miles to Forever: Tom and Kasandra’s 3-Day Proposal

On the final day of the Seattle 3-Day last fall, the finish line was abuzz with anticipation. Medical crew members were gathered, a group of friends craned their necks to see that final corner beyond the finish line, and our host Mark was grinning from ear to ear. A proposal was coming!

Tom Riggs had worked with the Seattle 3-Day team to prepare for his proposal to fellow 3-Dayer, Kasandra, at the end of his 60-mile journey, and everyone couldn’t wait to see the culmination of this love story that began with a shared love of the 3-Day!

Tom says being a part of the 3-Day has helped in his relationship with Kas because it has taught him patience, perseverance, and the importance of foot rubs. 😉

“Being the person to bring her food, being a shoulder to lean on and giving lots of encouragement was important to our bond!  I LOVED being the person she could rely upon when her personal heroic acts were finished. Sharing that journey together makes the hard places easier, the great places even more awesome and the accomplishments FANTASTIC!”

After each conquering the 3-Day separately, they are now looking forward to driving a sweep van together in Seattle this year, finally making that 60-mile journey as a married couple. 2019 will also be the year they finalize moving in together, celebrate her son’s and his daughter’s college graduations, and (of course) get married!

The tuxes have been ordered, she said “yes” to a dress, the venue and rings have been selected, and the music is chosen — but there’s still so much to do! But of course, they already know that their accent color will be PINK! Until their wedding, they have super top-secret Valentine’s Day plans this week (sorry Kas, Tom wouldn’t tell us in case you read the blog!), and lots more planning to do for the 3-Day and their big day. It’s going to be a big year!

For the full story of Tom and Kasandra’s love, we let Tom take over. After all, a man in love should tell his own story 😊

When I met Kasandra in the summer of 2017, one of the first things I found out about her was that she was signed up to walk in the 2017 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. That was among the many, many things that endeared her to me! Because I was unable to participate in 2017, I committed to helping her train, raise money and get prepared. Once she was at the starting line, I spent the rest of the weekend supporting her. I knew how much the event takes out of a person physically, emotionally, and mentally, so I wanted to be there for her. I figured I was in a good position to be that friend who would understand.

After committing to the 2018 event in Seattle, Kasandra decided to switch roles with me. She wanted to come to the event to be my supporter and be at as many of the cheering stations as possible. So, when I knew in my soul that I wanted to ask her to marry me, it seemed a natural fit to propose at the 3-Day, as the event has become so important to the two of us.

I sent an e-mail to the 3-Day coaches, asking them for help. Gayla was so sweet (she even sent me a meme!) in responding, pledging support to help me. As I walked on the first day of the event, I told everyone that I was carrying the engagement ring for 60 miles and to look for the proposal at the finish line. I even recruited a friend who is attending the University of Washington to meet us at the finish, so she could use my phone to put the proposal on Facebook Live (I told all our mutual friends on Facebook to be watching!). As news of my proposal got out among the Seattle 3-Day staff (particularly the AMAZING medical crew), everyone got in on the fun to surprise Kasandra!

On the second day of the walk, I pulled my IT band and found that I couldn’t finish the event. It was so frustrating! However, the event staff was so kind in allowing Kasandra and I to take over a sweep van for Sunday. So, as we drove all over Seattle for the day, all I could think about was the proposal. As we parked the van and headed up to the finish line, everyone on the staff was smiling, knowing what was coming. To make everything look official, I even walked (gingerly!) through the finish line. The announcer gave me the microphone and it was time.

Honestly, I had rehearsed what I wanted to say for three days. But when the moment came, I couldn’t think, because all could see was her eyes and all I could think was how much I love her. So, after an initial comment about “going steady,” I dropped to one knee (also gingerly!) and proposed to her in front of the people at the finish line and dozens more on Facebook Live. And she said YES!

We now have planned a June 22nd wedding! Because we’ve recommitted to driving a sweep van for the 2019 3-Day in Seattle, we will have a table at our reception where people can support us our fundraising. We even have a name for our van already – Sweepless in Seattle! – so look for us on the route! And, of course, I’m looking forward to being under the Space Needle again, where I will kiss this amazing woman one year later as my WIFE!

Learn from 3-Dayer Catherine Stoch: Commit to the 3-Day in 2019

“To make a difference for someone else. To dispel the myths. For research. For screening. For treatment. To educate people about what Komen does for women, and men. That’s why I walk.”

Why do you walk? Everyone has a reason. This year, we are asking you to find your reason, and commit to the 3-Day. Commit to walking 60 miles in the fight against breast cancer. Commit to joining 3-Dayers like Catherine Stoch, one of our Twin Cities 3-Day survivor speakers in 2018. Commit. You won’t regret it!

Take it from Catherine. She has been walking for a decade, two of those years as a breast cancer survivor, and she’s not stopping anytime soon. In fact, she’s already signed up to join us again on the Twin Cities 3-Day in 2019!

Tell us about your 2018 journey…

Last year was full of a lot of things, like getting body parts removed to prevent cancer’s spread, lots of recovery, and reconstruction. And during ALL of this, I was completely, 100% supported by an incredible team of friends, family, medical professionals, good insurance coverage and my husband who has been by my side every step. And I know not every woman’s story is like this. That’s why I walk.

The net proceeds raised by the Susan G. Komen 3-Day help Susan G. Komen® build a world free of breast cancer through research, community, care and action. The funds raised have helped Komen‘s mission to save lives from breast cancer, by investing more than $956 million in breakthrough research and more than $2.1 billion to support people and communities most at risk through programs to provide access to screening, treatment assistance, patient navigation and education. How could I NOT walk?

What would you say to someone who is nervous about joining the 3-Day?

I was VERY nervous too, at first. Walking 60 miles and raising $2,300 is a big commitment, but as a friend of mine—who joined me as a first-time walker in 2018 shared, “You pushed me to do more than I thought I could.” I think that is what I have learned over the years of walking this—that you can do more than you think.

What are your top training tips for first-time 3-Dayers?

  1. FOLLOW the training regimen and take it seriously. If you are a runner, you may think, “Yah, I run.” But training your feet for waking, especially a long walk, is different. And another tip: buy your shoes ½ size larger than you usually wear. This was critically important to keeping my feet in much better shape. And…don’t wear NEW shoes on the walk. Your feet will suffer.
  2. Drink more water than you think you should. Over five walks, I’ve seen people be way too casual about it, and run into serious problems. Dehydration is COMPLETELY preventable on the 3-Day.
  3. Walk in all kinds of weather. You never know. I trained in heat, humidity, rain, and because I live in Minnesota, I did train in snow. Then you will be ready for whatever weather comes your way. It’s a long walk, and thorough preparation will get you ready both mentally and physically for the elements.

Komen has a Bold Goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50% in the U.S. by 2026. Why is this goal so important?

On a larger scale, women’s overall health is important to me, and all my life, women’s health has been under fire, with too much interference, and not for the better. Fewer women dying from breast cancer means more healthier women globally. And there’s still such a cultural stigma about breasts, just saying the word in 2018 still makes too many people squirm. By continuing to call out breast cancer deaths raises awareness that women (and men) still DIE from this. Totally unnecessary.

What are some of your personal goals for the New Year?

Be mindful of my good health and do my best to not just take up air space on the planet, but use my time, energy and talents well. A hero of mine is John Muir, who was exceptionally passionate about the natural world stated, in part: “Most people are on the world, not in it.” I want to remain very IN, and given I have a new job in the health care sector, it’s incredibly exciting for me to utilize my job-related skills as a grant writer to promote healthy living for ALL!

 

What are YOUR goals for the New Year? Have you already committed to walking the 3-Day in 2019? Tell us your story in the comments!

 

 

2018 Philadelphia Susan G. Komen 3-Day Wrap Up

Over the weekend, hundreds of walkers gathered inside the Grand Ballroom at Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing ready to take on the fight against breast cancer. The 2018 Philadelphia 3-Day was the first 3-Day to feature a Camp inside of a hotel, and we were so very excited to pilot this intriguing new model for our 3-Day community.

An energetic Opening Ceremony further reminded us why our steps are so very important, and we took off into Philadelphia.

We walked past Independence Hall at 1.2 miles, and then into our first Pit Stop of the 3-Day weekend at mile 3.6, which was themed with bouncing balls. We continued on to Pit Stop 2 at West Fairmount Park, where our walkers stepped into a fairy tale with the Enchanted Pit Stop, complete with 3-Day Dwarves, “Crampy, Blistery, and Achy.”

The smiling faces of our crew at Pit Stop 2 propelled us forward into lunch at Chamounix Field, 9.2 miles into our route. We showed some team spirit with the Eagles theme, and enjoyed resting on our Mohawk pads and stretching before we took off for the final parts of the route.

While a little bit of rain came down, it didn’t dampen our spirits. A quick stop at Boob Street at Rodin Museum Grounds fueled us up for the remaining five miles of the day, and the community came out to cheer us in as we walked back into the Hilton.

The hotel was serving Philadelphia’s pretzels with pink salt, a perfect local treat to get us ready for dinner and a fun camp show where we awarded some of our participants’ amazing fundraising work, and rewarded milestone and impact award winners, Ronald MacDonald and Dawn Kifer. Then, it was off to bed so we could rest in anticipation of a beautiful Day two.

Day two greeted us with ideal weather and no humidity. Walkers tackled the cobble stone streets of the city, and walked past the art museum, where some walkers took a moment to recreate their Rocky moment and run up the stairs.

Next, we walked along the river while teams rowed in regatta races, and then climbed the hills to Belmont Mansion for its incredible views of the skyline. Then it was time for lions, tigers and bears as the route moved through the Philadelphia Zoo before returning back to camp at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing.

Back at Camp, we relaxed in the zen-inducing Bank of America massage chairs and enjoyed a yummy dinner before an entertaining camp show and our classic 3-Day dance party. On Sunday we headed out to South Philly neighborhoods, with Mile 1 passing by Elfreth’s Alley. Walkers were cheered on by inflatable unicorns and dinosaurs, and we wished we could start every day that way.

We also walked by the dueling Pat and Geno’s Steak Shops at mile 11, with some walkers stopping for a yummy bite to eat. After some classic Philly fare, it was onwards past a cheering station at Marconi Plaza, and then past the Sports Complex (home of the Phillies, Flyers, Sixers and Eagles), being welcomed by the Eagles Drum and Bugle Corps who could be heard from a mile away. We also spotted another dancing unicorn — just the whimsical sight we needed to put some pep in our step as we marched toward Closing Ceremony.

 

The day ended at the historic Navy Yard under sunny skies, with dragon flies whizzing by, reminding us of loved ones lost checking up on us.

Closing Ceremonies were jam packed with friends and family waiting to celebrate our courageous walkers and crew. Together, we raised $2.1 million toward the fight to end breast cancer. Philadelphia, thank you. We are so honored and grateful for everything you do.