Burt’s Bench: Meet Burt L., 3-Day Walker

There is a bench on Day 3 of the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. It’s a beautiful bench, as far as benches go, with a shiny, smooth steel construction, and elegantly turned legs. It’s seated on a platform of river rocks, overlooking a fountain framed by trees. The hundreds of 3-Dayers who walk by this bench in Curtis Park may think it’s just a bench, but to 23-time participant Burt Lipshie it’s more than just a bench. This bench is the last place he talked to his cousin before she died of breast cancer.

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Burt’s cousin Judy is “my dearest, sweetest cousin in the whole world. Breast cancer killed her in 2004.”

It seems like a twist of fate brought Burt to the 3-Day. “A month or so after she died, I’m sitting in my office in New York, and Judy is everywhere. She’s just everywhere. It’s a hard thing to describe.”

Burt sent an email to Judy’s daughters, saying, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m having a Judy day today.” They wrote back and said they were not surprised, because they were, too. Why were they having a “Judy day,” other than dearly missing their mom?

Their answer to him: “We think our mom is proud of us because we just signed up to walk the 3-Day.”

Burt knew immediately that he would support the 3-Day. “I told them that I would donate… and I thought about it for two days. And then, I thought, no. They can’t do this without me. I’m going to do it too.”

Just two days later, Burt was signed up for his first ever 3-Day. “I had to find some way to fight back. This is the most meaningful way to fight back.”

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There was just one slight problem – the girls had already named their team “Juju’s Girls.”

“We changed the name to ‘Jujus Girls (And boy).’ We walked San Diego that year and I haven’t stopped. This is walk 23.”

What was this special woman like? Judy was “feisty.” Burt refused to tell her age, joking that he could hear Judy from heaven exclaiming, “Burt! What?! You’re telling my age?” She was the type of woman who was dying of breast cancer, but still taking care of her 91-year-old mother. Judy lived in Dallas most of her life, so Burt had plans to meet Judy at the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. But by then, she was too sick to do it.

Towards the very end of the 60-mile route, Burt took a break from walking. “I’m sitting on the bench and I called to see how she was doing, and we talked for about five minutes. An hour later I got the call.”

To Burt, the bench in Curtis Park isn’t just a bench. It’s a tangible memory, a place that marks the devastation of this disease. It’s a place he visits every year before he walks sixty miles in the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, an event that he’s raised more than $208,000 for. It’s a staggering sum that has no doubt helped countless men and women fighting breast cancer. By now, Burt is well-loved by all his fellow walkers and member of the 3-Day Crew. As Burt walks in his neon pink shoes and pink Yankees hat, walkers call out to him, “My man!” slapping high fives and posing for pictures.

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The bench is symbolic to all of us, because many places in the world become like Burt’s bench, marking the last place and time you talked to somebody you love.

When Burt comes to the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, “It’s the first thing I do. I walk up Turtle Creek and I go up to the bench. And I sit on the bench for a little while, and I cry a little bit. And then I come back.”

Burt comes back because in this fight against breast cancer, you must always come back. You may be angry and grieving and devastated, but you must come back. Because, together, when we return to this fight, we are holding steadfast in our promise that we will never give up. And one day, Burt will sit on his bench and know that thanks to him and the help of people like you, more people like Judy will be saved.

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Counting Our Thanks: The 2016 Komen 3-Day Series, By the Numbers

3day_2016_social_holiday_thanksgivingSeven locations. 420 miles. More than 6,500 walkers, 1,800+ crew members, and countless lives touched. Let’s look at our 2016 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Series, by the numbers.

Michigan 3-DayIMG_2535

Donations: $1.6 Million
Walkers: 600
Crew: 300
See the Michigan 3-Day Photos Here!

Twin Cities 3-Day2016_TC-Walkers_3-Day (57 of 77)
Donations: $1.4 Million
Walkers: 500
Crew: 200
See the Twin Cities 3-Day Photos Here!

Seattle 3-Day2016_3day_wa_gf_-39
Donations: $1.8 Million
Walkers: 600
Crew: 200
See the Seattle 3-Day Photos Here!

Atlanta 3-Day2016_3day_atl_gf_-119
Donations: $1.7 Million
Walkers: 600
Crew: 225
See the Atlanta 3-Day Photos Here!

Philadelphia 3-Day2016_3day_philly_gf_-124
Donations: $2.1 Million
Walkers: 750
Crew: 275
See the Philadelphia 3-Day Photos Here!

Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day2016_3day_df_gf_-384
Donations: $2.4 Million
Walkers: 900
Crew: 300
See the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Photos Here!

San Diego 3-Day2016_3day_sd_gf_-21
Donations: $7.6 Million
Walkers: 2,600
Crew: 350

See the San Diego 3-Day Photos Here!

 

The fundraising totals listed above represent how much was raised by the time each event began, and we’re thrilled to share that every single Komen 3-Day continues bringing in donation dollars even after the last walker left each Closing Ceremony. It’s all adding up to one huge impact that will help Komen reach their Bold Goal: to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50% in the U.S. within the next decade.

There’s not a number big enough to calculate our gratitude to you, our 3-Day family, for your part in the fight.

The San Diego 3-Day Coaches Talk About…The San Diego 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 San Diego coaches—Kim, Staci and Nanette—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.

Staci, Kim, Nanette

Staci, Kim, Nanette

Kim (San Diego Local Events Coach)

“I first met Kim at a 3-Day training walk leader training that I was hosting here in San Diego. She was signed up for her very first 3-Day and already willing to take the next step to guide others in their journey. That’s Kim – always willing to jump in with both feet! She is chock full of positive energy, with a radiant smile that reassures you it’s all going to be okay, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty and is a quick and creative problem-solver.” – Staci

“Kim has been my partner in crime as we tag team various tasks and events across the country. She’s great at cultivating relationships with participants and encourages teams to grow.  Kim’s dedication to her own team is amazing and she will do anything for you, even loan you her car if yours won’t start.” – Nanette

Staci (San Diego Participant Support Coach)

“Staci keeps us on track and is highly knowledgeable and organized. She’s the anchor to our team as she covers home base when Kim and I are out of the office. Staci has deep relationships with so many of our participants and we’re all grateful for her ability to make everyone feel super special.” – Nanette

“Staci has a passion for the 3-Day that I have admired from the first time I met her. I am so taken by her kindness, and I owe most of what I know about the 3-Day to Staci. Staci is a quiet but mighty force with an incredible knowledge of everything 3-Day. She is soft spoken, gentle, kind, quietly funny and so smart. Staci is incredible at helping all of our travelling participants and our local ones with every question they can come up with. She is calm, sweet, caring and so knowledgeable!” – Kim

Nanette (San Diego Crew & Volunteer Coordinator)

“Nanette is energetic, outgoing and a tiny yet mighty leader. She couldn’t love her crew more and it shows with every interaction. Nanette has a knack with the crew and can manage all the moving parts with style, grace and a great sense of humor. And often she needs that sense of humor during the event. I love that we get to work and play not just for the San Diego 3-Day, but also as travel companions while staffing other 3-Days. I love laughing with her and always looking for new adventurous places to eat! It’s kind of a thing for us to find great places to eat in each city.” – Kim

“Nanette has a calm and capable demeanor that helps keep our team well-grounded. It’s clear on the event that our crew members feel empowered under her guidance and that they fully trust her intuition.  Nan and I share a love for the excitement that comes while cheering walkers onto the route each morning from camp!” – Staci

 

Do you know the San Diego 3-Day coaches? How would you describe these fabulous ladies?