Introducing the 3-Day Step Squad

Earlier this year, we launched the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Step Squad, a select group dedicated to spreading the word about the Komen 3-Day in their local communities. We were overwhelmed with the number of applicants and want to thank everyone who took the time to apply. It was truly amazing to see such enthusiasm and support for the 3-Day®.

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The Susan G. Komen 3-Day Step Squad is comprised of nearly 100 energetic and passionate participants from throughout the United States who have dedicated their personal time to help us tell the story of why the Komen 3-Day is so amazing. The Step Squad raises awareness of the 3-Day through media interviews, social media, community engagement and word of mouth, educating their local communities about the event and our mission to end breast cancer forever.

Teaming up with the Step Squad and once again serving as our National Spokesperson, we’re happy to share that Dr. Sheri Prentiss will be joining us on-event this year! In her role, Dr. Sheri will be at the forefront of our grassroots efforts, not only serving as a spokesperson for the media, but also as a local ambassador dedicated to educating, recruiting participants and engaging the community about the 3-Day’s mission to eradicate breast cancer forever.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Sheri and the inaugural group of Step Squad members below. We encourage everyone to look for our Step Squad members on-event. You’ll see them in their Step Squad shirts and representing the 3-Day with the media.

Here’s a sneak peek into one of the great media stories secured by Step Squad member, Dena McLauchlin, a seven-city walker, who shared her story with local TV station KTVB in Boise, ID.

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Photo by KTVB

 

Step Squad Members:

Renee Barney                                                               Lynn Piasecki

Alicia Grazioli                                                                Nancy Cooley

Linda Harris                                                                   Melissa Dickhausen

Ann Salter                                                                     Rachel Malecha

Vanessa DeKoekkoek                                                   Kathy Hamann

Wendy Headland                                                           Patty Middleton Miller

Lisa Hamlett                                                                  Sherril Anderson

Ann Vondriska                                                              Cori Olson

Stephanie Hartman                                                        Lynette Lenz

Leanne Johnston

Amy Wofford

Dottie Cornelius                                                             Ellen Harward

Jay Furr                                                                        Renee McCollum

Lauren Leiker                                                                Shelley Middleton

Kathy Schreiber                                                             Gerald Tucker

Linda Savell                                                                  Irma Turnipseed

Elaine Yount                                                                 Harriet Hankerson

Brooke Kincade                                                             Rosa Broddie

Cheryl Howard                                                              Courtney Meckley

Nikki Bristol                                                                  Kate Vitetta

Monica Bonds                                                               Maryjo Allen

Jan Culbertson                                                              Angela Hazzard

Jennifer Steinmetz                                                         Lori Bader

Taylor Long

Beth Dupras                                                                  Judy Gonzales

Donna Kearney                                                             Merrit Alve

Donna May                                                                   Michele Bertone-Buck

Kelly McGill                                                                   Amber Gossett

Becky Carfagno                                                            Tara Anne Hart

Pegi Orso                                                                     Sharon Hudspeth

Ron Reinhart                                                                 Ashley Rawls

Lorraine McGee                                                            Debby Rich

Vicki Layne                                                                   Robin Cordry

Janna Kono                                                                  Bill Wetsel

Jeffrey Hollett                                                               Joe Zinser

Becky Ward                                                                  Karen Kaplan

Christine Camper                                                           Donna Edwards

Julie Jokinen                                                                 Lisa Molkenbuhr

Kristian Kauker                                                              Caroline Skowronek

Pia Dowling                                                                   Franne McNeal

Heather Hoff                                                                 Jim Hillmann

Lois Bear                                                                      Dena McLauchlin

Michelle Buessing

Lisa Busalacchi

Alison DuBose

Sally Dunbar

Tara Farrell

Ashley Fuhr

Kathy Giller

Liz Goldman

Lucy Millman

Cheryl Papiernik

Abby Grossman

Kathy Schwab

Cheryl Jagoda

Mallory Martinez

Denise Gourley

Kim Huber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying the Flags of Hope

Today is Flag Day in the United States, and while we all should honor the Stars and Stripes in our hearts, here at the 3-Day, we have some flags of our own that carry very special meaning too.

At our Opening and Closing Ceremonies and in camp, we are surrounded by flags and banners with inspirational words and phrases, giving us motivation, encouragement and hope. One of the most powerful moments of each Closing Ceremony is when we raise the final flag over a sea of triumphant walkers, crew members and survivors, signifying our commitment to a world without breast cancer.12031392_10156039901120392_5626771338758218186_o 13268374_10156909268860392_6896089530611072979_o

We also raise a very special flag in camp on the first two nights of each 3-Day event. This flag is carried into camp, amidst incredible fanfare, by the last walker to arrive each day.

It’s a beautiful tradition on the 3-Day. Instead of celebrating the first walker to make it across the finish line like most other races do, we instead ignite everyone already in camp to come out and cheer in the last walker. With their arrival, our 3-Day family is complete for another night.

So to tie in with Flag Day, we gathered some thoughts from a few of our last walkers from the 2015 events, sharing what that experience and that special flag meant to them.

Kathryn Labbe, who lives in Mesa, AZ, was the last walker (along with her teammates) on Day 1 of the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day last year. Kathryn has participated in the 3-Day every year since 2006 (except 2014), and will be walking this year in the Twin Cities. When asked how that Day 1 was for her last year, she said, “My day was long, hot and exhausting, but fun. It was great fun being last walkers.  We were so happy to have made it to camp. We didn’t care if we were last.” Kathryn reminds us, “It’s a walk, not a race.”

Kathryn (far right) and teammates

Kathryn (far right) and teammates

At the 2015 Atlanta 3-Day, Julie Hipple, a five-time walker and a stage IV breast cancer survivor, was our inspirational camp speaker on Friday night, sharing her experience with metastatic disease and Komen’s impact on her treatment. On Saturday, Julie continued to inspire her fellow Atlanta 3-Dayers by raising the last walker flag at the end of Day 2. She describes that day as “Awesome, exhausting, memorable. My feet were sore from kicking cancer’s butt all day!” For someone who has had such an emotional and personal connection with breast cancer, the experience of walking into camp and raising the flag was, as Julie put it, “Amazing! Being a stage IV survivor, every step is an accomplishment. Walking into camp was like going home…to my 3-Day family!” Julie will be walking this year in San Diego for the first time. She also shared this very important message: “I always support the 3-Day event specifically because 75% [of net proceeds raised] goes to support research, which is literally keeping me alive. The treatment I’m on now is a new drug that is a result of Komen research dollars at work!”

Julie (middle)

Julie (middle)

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On Day 3, walkers end at the Participant Finish Area before heading into Closing as one big group, but we still announce and celebrate the arrival of the last walkers. At the Philadelphia 3-Day last year, the last walker on Day 3 was none other than Aubrey Cushing, our very own Seattle 3-Day coach. Philly was her 8th 3-Day (she’ll be walking there again this year for #9), and she says this about her condition as she neared the end of her 60 miles last year: “It was so hard. My feet were blistered and bleeding. I finally decided to take off my shoes and walk barefoot the last five miles into closing.” Aubrey told me about what continued to push her through to the end: “I loved the Philadelphia community, so that made it much easier to endure the mileage. Besides that, I had a great teammate that walked almost every step of the way with me. Towards the end of the day, the three of us on my team made sure we held hands and crossed the finish line together. My husband, two sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, nieces and nephew were all there, plus all of the crew and other walkers. It was the most magnificent moment ever. I was walking for a friend of the family who was going through a difficult battle with breast cancer. All weekend long when it got tough to walk, I kept thinking, “Vanessa Strong, Vanessa Strong, Vanessa Strong.” Vanessa is a thriving survivor today and I am so inspired by her strength when things got tough.”

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Aubrey (center), hand in hand with her teammates.

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Whether you’re the first walker to finish, the last walker, or one of the thousands somewhere in between, every step you take is bringing about tremendous impact and making a difference. And whether you raise the flag or cheer for someone else who does, every one of us can share in celebrating the small victory of being one day closer to ending breast cancer.

Getting Down to the Business of Fighting Back – Carla’s Story

Carla Kelley, who will be walking the 3-Day for the fifth time in San Diego this November, shared her inspiring story with us. #WeAreThe3Day

“In January 2006, at the age of 34, I felt I finally had it all. I had a wonderful man, a career that I loved and I was pregnant for the first time. In my book, things couldn’t have been better. Then on February 14, 2006, at my first pre-natal visit, a lump was found in my breast. I was scheduled right away for an ultrasound and biopsy. I thought, “It can’t be breast cancer, I’m pregnant!”

“But breast cancer doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t care if you’re young or old, rich or poor. It doesn’t care about the color of your skin or even if you’re a male or female. And it certainly doesn’t care if you’re pregnant.

“When the doctor told me that I did have breast cancer, my perfect little world came crashing down all around me and I was in complete shock. But I bounced back quickly and started getting down to the business of fighting back. I was assigned my own small army of specialists in oncology and obstetrics and we began researching treatment options. The fact that I was pregnant was going to be a challenge, as was determining what treatments I could or could not receive. Within two weeks we were able to find the answers we were looking for and on April 3, 2006, when I was well into my second trimester, I had surgery to remove the tumor.

“My surgery went well and the baby was doing great. As soon I healed from surgery I began a chemotherapy treatment that my doctors and I determined would not harm my baby. My obstetrician monitored the baby weekly during and after my treatment and she came through everything beautifully. The chemotherapy however took a toll on me and my body. I went into labor early and Hannah was born on August 9, 2006 at 35 weeks. She weighed in at 4 pounds and 13 ounces, but thankfully there were no complications whatsoever!Carla Kelley

“After giving birth I had one more surgery to make sure my margins were clear, then finished my chemotherapy. Six weeks of radiation soon followed and finally all of my treatments were at an end. I was both relieved and scared at the same time. No more poking, no more prodding, and no more being zapped…but wait, if I’m not being treated, will the cancer come back?

“To help fight back against cancer, I started participating in the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women. I loved it so much and found so much support through participating that I began running the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at Dodger Stadium, and started walking in the Komen 3-Day in San Diego.walk3

“It was at the 3-Day where I met the most amazing group of women and their families, and ultimately joined their team, Saving 2nd Base. Their friendship, love and support have been an incredible source of strength for me, more than they will ever know. I’ll be forever thankful for having met them: Shari, Karin, Barbara, Laurie, Carrie, Jill, Amber, Mark, Ashley. And all of the men behind these women: Bill, Rick, Norbert, Wayne and all of their children. Thank you and I love you all!

“I am now 10 years cancer-free. I’ve long since completed all of my treatments and have graduated to having blood tests only once a year now along with yearly mammograms. I will forever be so grateful to all of my friends, family, doctors and nurses for the wonderful care and support they provided for me and my baby.”walk1