The Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Coaches Talk About…The Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Coaches!

They’re the helpful cheerleaders on the other end of the phone call or email when you have questions or concerns. They’re the smiling faces welcoming you and your teams at meet-ups and workshops and building up community excitement for the 3-Day. They’re the guiding hands leading the crew captains and teams to greatness. That’s right, they’re your Susan G. Komen 3-Day® coaches!

As we’ve prepared to return to each of the seven splendid 3-Day locations this year, we’ve been taking a few minutes to catch up with the coaches from each event. You’ve gotten to know them pretty well over the past couple of years on the 3-Day blog and this year, instead of letting them talk about themselves, I asked their fellow coaches to do it for them!

The Dallas/Fort Worth coaches—Gayla, Liz and Val—are the stars of the show today! Click here to see what we knew about them already, and keep reading to see what they each had to say about each other.

Val, Liz, Gayla

Val, Liz, Gayla

Gayla (Dallas/Fort Worth Local Events Coach)

“Gayla is super caring and a bundle of energy. She is so very passionate about the 3-Day and helping ensure it is the best possible event for every walker. Gayla will go out of her way to spend time helping a walker set up her fundraising page or learn how to navigate the 3-Day website. Her passion and caring frequently inspires walkers to register for the following year before they have even participated in the current year. She is so knowledgeable about the Dallas/Fort Worth area and really knows how to get local folks involved and out to support the walkers.”– Liz

“I have never met anyone with more spirit than the One and Only Gayla Cruikshank, 3-Day cheerleader extraordinaire. Even when the going gets rough (and it sometimes does) she has a smile on her face and a skip in her step. Her only concern is ensuring that our participants have what they need to have a life-changing event. Liz and I are truly blessed to have Gayla walking this journey with us, she’s an amazing co-worker, mother, and friend.” – Val

Liz (Dallas/Fort Worth Participant Support Coach)

“Gayla and I like to say that Liz is the voice and email of the DFW 3-Day and that couldn’t be more true. She is my ‘go-to’ gal for any question, any time. She supports our walkers and crew members in millions of different ways, always wanting to ensure they have everything they need to succeed. In addition to all that, Liz is one of my ‘besties’ both at work and in the real world. I truly treasure every interaction with her and count down the days until my next visit to to see her, her husband and their two kitties.” – Val

“There are so many words to describe Liz! She is kind, helpful, available, smart, willing, dedicated, passionate, knowledgeable, determined. Liz is always available and can fix any problem participants throw at her. She is focused and brings calm to any situation, even when I call her in a panic. I love every time I get to see Liz. We video chat almost every day of the work week and sometimes talk on the weekends, too! I’m really looking forward to hanging out with her in our minivan in November.” – Gayla

Val (Dallas/Fort Worth Crew & Volunteer Coordinator)

“Val is generous, helpful, organized, smart, friend, loyal and kind. She is very detailed oriented and has the most beautiful handwriting for the kind notes she sends to participants. She puts thought in to any communication to people and intentionally makes them feel extremely special. The memory that makes me laugh the most about Val is when we finished staffing the Michigan 3-Day in 2014 and were at the airport Sunday night flying home from an exhausting/exhilarating weekend; we got so slap-happy we couldn’t even keep it together for an airport selfie (laughing tears)!” –  Gayla

“Val puts her heart and soul into creating a positive experience for the Dallas/Fort Worth crew. She plans all year on what she can do or create for the crew to let them know how special and appreciated they are. We have so much fun together outside of work and even did a Grand Canyon road trip together last year.” – Liz

 

Do you know the Dallas/Fort Worth coaches? How would you describe these fabulous ladies?

A Survivor’s Story: Tracey Aho

This October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re sharing stories of survivors. Read our most recent post from Sherri O’Berry here, and today, we’re honored to share Tracey Aho’s story.

Like many others before her, Tracey’s breast cancer journey started when someone close to her—her mother—was diagnosed. It was after her mom’s second breast cancer diagnosis, Tracey recalls, that she took action for her own health. “Based on my family history as well as previous scares on personal mammogram results, I decided to see a specialist as a preventative measure. After a few visits and a few tests, we decided that I would have an MRI. It was then that the tumor was spotted and a biopsy was ordered. I was told that the results would take a day or two and knowing my doctor, I knew she would call me as soon as she had the results.”

Years prior to this frightening turn of events, Tracey became part of the Komen 3-Day. “I had heard about the 3-Day over the years but was watching TV one night in 2014 and saw a commercial. This was shortly after my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer and I sat there thinking, “I should do that. I’m not doing anything for Jennifer (my cousin) just sitting here”. I thought about it for a few minutes and then decided to register. Almost immediately after I did, I thought, ‘What in the world did I just do?’” What she did was step up to the challenge of the 3-Day and crush it. She raised over $2500 for the 2014 Michigan 3-Day, then came back and did it again in 2015.tracey-aho-1

Flash back ahead to the spring of 2016, and Tracey was in a meeting when her phone rang with the call that would change her life. “My boss knew I was waiting for this call and of course immediately excused me from the meeting. My doctor asked me if I wanted to go home first and then call her back but based on her question alone, I knew I was going to want the results right then. She confirmed that I did indeed have breast cancer.

“My immediate reaction was not shock; I had prepared myself for the worst but prayed for the best so I was mentally ready to hear the diagnosis. Of course there were tears and nervousness but my next two thoughts were ‘How am I going to tell my son, husband and the rest of the family’ and ‘What’s the plan?’

“I received my diagnosis on March 17, 2016 and my husband and I were in the doctor’s office the very next day discussing treatments. I had a couple of options which included a lumpectomy but due to other health issues that I have, we decided on a bilateral mastectomy followed by reconstruction surgery.

“Follow-up treatment was still unknown at that time but eventually, my doctor ruled out radiation and my oncologist wanted to run an oncotype test to determine the aggressiveness of the tumor before he could advise if chemotherapy was necessary. My results came back in the low intermediate stage so we decided that I would not need chemo.”

Tracey had walked in the 3-Day two times before her diagnosis, but 2016’s Michigan 3-Day was special for her: “This year was a little different for me because it was my first as a survivor. I kept thinking, ‘I’m very blessed. I could be getting chemo treatments or worse right now but I’m here.’”tracey-aho-2

We’re glad you’re here, Tracey, and thanks to you and all the people in our 3-Day community, we’re working hard on ending breast cancer forever.

2016 Philadelphia 3-Day Award Winners and Honorees

Saturday evening’s camp show at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is all about celebration: walkers celebrate completing an amazing 40 miles, crew members high-five over giving hours upon hours of service to their fellow 3-Dayers, and everyone celebrates each other. It’s true that every walker and crew member could rightfully be given a medal for their accomplishments, but since that isn’t really possible, we do like to take time at the end of Day 2 to recognize some walkers and crew members for outstanding achievements. We were pleased to award the following outstanding walkers, crew members and teams in Philadelphia:

Top Training Walk Leaderimg_7992

Congratulations to Liz Parks, the top training walk leader for the 2016 Philadelphia 3-Day. Liz, who lives in Arizona, has been a 3-Day participant and a training walk leader for 11 years and is the captain of Team Walking On. A huge animal lover, Liz admits that on training walks and on-event, she will stop to pet every dog.

Top Youth Corps Fundraiserimg_7654

The 3-Day Youth Corps is made up of kids between the ages of 10 and 16 years old. These kids come out to cheer and support the walkers and crew members for all three days, and they are required to raise a minimum of $500 in order to participate. So for 13 year old Martin Korbini, a 2nd year Youth Corps member, to raise $1,728 is an even more extraordinary accomplishment. Yay, Martin!

Top Crew Fundraiserimg_7963

The top crew fundraiser for the Philadelphia 3-Day is Lynn Colbert, who raised an awesome $3,437 this year, adding to a lifetime fundraising total of $35,648. Lynn has participated in 12 events in her 10 years as a 3-Dayer; she is part of the Sweep team in Philly this year. When she’s not taking care of hundreds of 3-Day walkers, Lynn confesses that she loves playing video games and will be asking Santa for a new Nintendo Wii this Christmas.

Top Individual Walker Fundraiserimg_7970

Big thanks and congrats to the top individual fundraiser for the Philadelphia 3-Day, Julie Copaken. This year, Julie, who is captain of The Keepers, brought in an astonishing $23,087, and in her 12 years/12 events with the 3-Day, she alone has raised $195,980. Julie has been an extraordinary fundraiser for various cancer causes, having raised over $355,000: $196,000 for Komen, $145,000 for Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and $15,000 for other amazing cancer-fighting organizations. Over $100,000 of those funds have come from the Johnson & Johnson Matching Gift Program, which matches employee donations 2:1.

Top 5 Fundraising Teams

The top fundraising teams for the 2016 Philadelphia 3-Day are:

5. Girls Gone Walking – $35,100 in 2016; $232,262 lifetime – 15 team members, 11 years as team – Team Captain: Anne Moss.
4. TEAM STEWIE – $37,539 in 2016; $140,529 lifetime –16 team members, 6 years as team – Team Captain – Kristina Wessenlink.
3. Les Roberts – $38,860 in 2016; $63,524 lifetime – 10 team members, 2 years as team –Team Captain: Sylvie Satre.
2. The Cup Crusaders – $46,852 in 2016; $1,219,944 lifetime – 12 members, 12 years as team – Team Captain: Kathy DiRusso

img_7956And big congratulations to Friends With Heart, which was both the largest team on the Philadelphia 3-Day (57 members) and the top fundraising team, with $93,563 raised this year. This new team is made up of members of two former Philly 3-Day teams: Breast Friends of Pennsylvania and Men With Heart. The lifetime amount raised by Friends With Heart—$915,663—is reflective of what the newly combined team, under their prior names, has raised since 2004. Friends With Heart was captained by Frank McSorley and Sharon Slosarik.

*The 2016 3-Day marked big milestones for the top 3 Philly teams:

  • The Cup Crusaders have raised more than $1.2 Million since they started walking in 2005.
  • No Walker Left Behind has raised more than $1.1 Million since they started walking in 2006.
  • Team Girlapalooza has raised more than $1 Million since they started walking in 2008.

 

Milestone Award and Local Impact Award

These two other special awards are presented to participants who stand out and shine extra brightly in a sky of very bright 3-Day stars. The Milestone Award is given at each event to one participant who has an extraordinary history of involvement with the 3-Day, and the Local Impact Award recognizes a participant in each 3-Day city who has been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day in their community throughout the year.

Join us in congratulating the 2016 Philadelphia 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, Kathleen Butler.img_7980 Kathleen has been part of the 3-Day for 11 years, with this year’s Philadlephia walk being her 12th event. In that time, she has raise $68,372, and as captain of Team Girlapalooza, has led the team to an astonishing total of over $1 million raised in the team’s history. With that kind of achievement, you’d think that 3-Daying was Kathleen’s full-time job, but she also finds time to serve as a licensed tour guide in Washington, DC (yes, her training walks do often become tours as well), and to cultivate her loves for Bruce Springsteen, Diet Dr. Pepper and blue Bic pens. Kathleen’s Team Girlapalooza co-founder, best friend and “name twin” Kathleen R. shared, “What sums up Kathleen the most, especially in regard to the 3-Day, is that she helps those around her be more successful though her generous sharing of her time, experience, creativity and passion. Her motivation and inspiration are unparalleled.” Julie, another friend and teammate, also told us, “I first met Kathleen when she attended one of my training walks over a decade ago. A few years later, we reconnected when Team Girlapalooza walked in that year’s Washington, DC 3-Day. At that event, a friendship began that grows stronger with each passing day. Kathleen is fiercely loyal – to her family, to her friends, to her faith, and to the causes she believes in. At the top of her list of causes are the 3-Day and eradicating breast cancer in our lifetime. Kathleen’s crowning achievement as team captain is the team’s fundraising success – raising over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in total since our first walk as a team. We would not have achieved that milestone without her leadership, coaching and support. I am proud to be a member of Team Girlapalooza and am grateful to call Kathleen my friend.” Congratulations, Kathleen, and thank you for all you do for the 3-Day!

Philadelphia’s Local Impact Award winner for 2016 is Rosaria Stoops.img_7989 Rosaria is a 10-year 3-Day participant, and this year’s Philly event was her 10th event. She has been an integral part of the Philadelphia crew, serving in a variety of roles but most recently, returning as the Senior Captain of Route teams for the past 3 years. She organizes the annual 3-Day Reunion party and is truly committed to building a 3-Day family and encouraging crew and walkers alike to return year after year. She is a strong leader, an excellent example of an ideal crew member and a great asset for us to cultivate leadership, community and awareness for the Philadelphia 3-Day. Becky, one of Rosaria’s good friends, said this about her: “I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Rosaria until my second or third year as a walker. She was always so busy running around, I never saw her my first year, nor did I realize just how much she did for the event. When I think of Rosaria, the first word that comes to mind is ‘selfless.’ She spends time and money each year supporting others in the event – donating to help others meet the minimum to walk, making cards, answering questions from other crew members, dealing with various issues and problems with hardly a whisper of complaint. Rosaria truly has a heart full of love and it is an honor and an inspiration to know her.” Another friend, Christine, added, “Rosaria is a kind, gentle soul. She is thoughtful, caring and will go to great lengths to cover all bases. Despite her battles and losses, she continues to give of herself. Rosaria always has a way of looking on the bright side. I admire that in a person and am proud to call her my friend.” We’re proud to have you as part of our 3-Day family too, Rosaria. Congratulations!