I Walk for Mary Beth: Linda Harris’ 3-Day Story

“We meet people every day; it is important to pay attention to the ones who will make an impact. We all have a warrior in us, but I know my fight started with Mary Beth. She was the one.”

Linda H. began walking the 3-Day in 2012, and since then has joined our pink family everywhere from Michigan to San Diego to the Twin Cities this past year. She has walked and crewed and has supported Susan G. Komen’s mission throughout the years even when she’s not on one of our 3-Day weekends. This commitment didn’t happen by accident.

In 2012, she never thought she’d be able to walk 60 miles. But then she met Mary Beth L., and everything changed. Linda walks for Mary Beth, and for all of those in her life who have felt the cruel impact of breast cancer. She will never quit. After honoring Mary Beth at our Twin Cities 3-Day this past August, Linda shared her full story with us.

How did you first come to join the 3-Day?

About 10 years ago I was sitting at my son’s football practice. I had become friendly with one of the moms, Mary Beth, through our sons. We had met years earlier, but we only really started to get to know each other through football. Then one day, I noticed this well put together woman had extremely ugly feet. Not necessarily ugly, but blisters and toenails missing!

“Excuse me, I have to ask: What is going on with your feet?!”

She laughed and said, “I just completed the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.”

My heart immediately began to race! That was something that I had always wanted to do. She began to tell me that she had walked for years but had been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, so this past walk was especially meaningful to her.

All I could say was, “You just walked 60 miles AND you have cancer?”

I had always told myself that I was too busy or could never complete 60 miles in 3 days. This was the push I needed. I was meant to meet Mary Beth. I immediately went home and signed up. Over the course of training and fundraising we became extremely close. We shared our work obstacles, talked about our marriages and children all while she was undergoing surgeries, chemo, radiation and reconstruction. She had cancer but she always seemed to be helping me and taking care of others. Her smile, laughter and amazing outlook on life were contagious.

In 2012 we walked together in the Michigan 3-Day. It was absolutely life changing. The tears, laughter, pain and the emotional experience bonded us together FOREVER. After completing the walk, we both decided to crew together the next year.

And how did your and Mary Beth’s 3-Day journeys grow from there?

In early November 2012, I saw a post on Facebook from Mary Beth.

“Well, it looks like I am walking this year.”

I realized this was her way of telling us that the cancer was back. I jumped in my car to be by her side. She was extremely positive and always wanted to be strong for those who were around her. So, Mary Beth and I signed up to walk again, positive that we would walk together for years to come. We trained and spent time watching old movies and laughing. I remember so much laughing 😊

In retrospect, she was giving me her story to carry on what she had started.

My dear friend lost her battle with cancer on May 15, 2013, at the age of 39. She supported the Susan G. Komen organization until her dying breath. She was passionate about the cure and believed the research that this organization does will not only find a cure for breast cancer but pave the road to end all cancer. So, I will walk until I no longer am able to.

Mary Beth leaves behind a legacy of walkers who believe in her vision. Her amazing parents have supported me every year with encouragement and very generous donations. They have even donated to my teammates who were struggling to meet their goal.

In addition to Mary Beth, for whom do you walk?

I walk for my teammates and lifelong “Sisters in Walking Bonds” friends.

Andrea S.K., who has walked the 3-Day twice now. Karry C., who has walked with me four consecutive years and her beautiful daughter Lexi, who walked with us for the first time this year.

Colleen S. has also walked with me four times. She was diagnosed a few months prior to our San Diego walk last year, but she scheduled her radiation around the walk and didn’t let it stop her. I am proud to say she is now cancer-free!

I walk for my beautiful sister Lisa, who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is also cancer-free today. I walk for all those who cannot. There will be a day in our lifetime, a WORLD WITHOUT CANCER.

What are some of your fondest 3-Day memories from years past?

Walking with Mary Beth in 2012 and in 2015 with my best friend since kindergarten to support her mom, who had just been diagnosed. I flew to Dallas, and my husband and son went with me ❤ Her mom is now cancer-free! And then, of course in 2019, speaking to the 3-Day community about why I started walking for Mary Beth, and raising the flag in her honor.

As a long-time walker, do you have any training tips for new walkers?

Train outside (always!), and train at least 5 miles at a time. Strength training is key, too! It helps with breathing and muscle memory helps with hills.

Any tried and true fundraising tips?

Email your target contributor with the intention of just saying, “I’m walking!” Make it personal and ask if you may send them the link. If you ask instead of just sending, 99 times out of 100 they will ask for it.

What does the word “commitment” mean to you?

Commitment to me, it is a part of my heart. It’s not an obligation. It’s who I am.

Fundraising Friday: Tips to Earn More 3-Day Gear

Throughout the 3-Day, from our route signs to our Bank of America Breakfast of Champions to our Closing Ceremony, we work hard to consistently honor everyone who reaches their fundraising goals. Every dollar you raise makes a huge difference in the fight against breast cancer and every dollar should be celebrated.

To deck you out in 3-Day gear, we have all new 3-Day Rewards in store for you as your reach certain fundraising milestones! What can you look forward to? Well, we have a whole lot of fun…

  • There’s a 6-Pack of Shoelace Tags to add some extra pink fun to your kicks on event. You only have to raise $2,500 to earn these!
  • If you fundraise $3,500, you’ll be awarded festive 3-Day socks that will spice up your next training outfit!
  • A cool 3-Day visor will be yours when you fundraise $5,000 for the 3-Day! What better way to find some shade while you walk, but still leave room for a fun 3-Day hairstyle?
  • When you hit the $7,500 mark, you’ll be rewarded with a 3-Day fleece blanket. It will keep you warm all fall and into the holidays!
  • If you’re a real fundraising superstar and hit the $10,000 mark, you’ll receive a packable pullover! We know many of you travel for the 3-Day, and this jacket will be a lifesaver for you. It conveniently packs into its own zippered front pocket, it’s unisex and water-resistant, PLUS it has a hood with adjustable drawstring. It’s great for training walks and your 60-mile weekend.
  • Aside from rewards for yearly fundraising, we also have rewards based on your lifetime fundraising efforts, including a 3-Day vest for when you raise $50,000 and a travel bag for when you raise $100,000 in your lifetime with the 3-Day. Keep working towards those big goals! Additionally, when you raise $100,000 or more or your team raises $1,000,000 or more, you will become a part of the Susan G. Komen Lifetime Commitment Circle and among other things will be forever-honored with your name or team name on the 3-Day recognition wall in Dallas, TX.

We hope this list adds some extra spark in your fundraising plans for the rest of the year and help to propel you towards whatever your fundraising goal is for the year!

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our 2019 3-Day Fundraising Handbook! It is chock full of all kinds of information, fundraising tips and tricks.

It will first walk you through setting your initial goal, and get you jump started with your fundraising outreach. Just getting started can be difficult for some people. Once you’re on a roll, it’s easier to think of fun new ideas or band together with your teammates for a fundraising event. But that first step can be tough. It’s all about the ask.

From helping you brainstorm a list of donors to providing advice from 3-Day mainstays like Coach Gayla, this handbook can be your guide through every step of the process. It also walks you through important support tools like your Participant Center, online fundraising page and our 3-Day app.

Not to mention, this handbook can be useful for your supporters as well! You can learn about the difference that Susan G. Komen is making in local communities. These facts are super helpful in crafting your fundraising letters, or to hand out at team building and fundraising events.

And that’s not even everything! If you’ve never read the Fundraising Handbook before, this should become your go-to as you continue fundraising for the 3-Day. It will help you reach your goals and put you on the path towards earning one of our amazing fundraising rewards as well.

Also, feel free to share your personal fundraising tips in the comments below! There is no such thing as too many ideas!

Congratulations to the 2019 Seattle 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Penny Kellam

For the 2019 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season, we’re pleased to be continuing the Local Impact Award. This award is being given to participants who have been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day® community throughout the year. Local Impact Award honorees have gone above and beyond in their efforts leading training walks, attending 3-Day community events, supporting the 3-Day staff year-round at meet-ups and workshops, and in general, making a difference by building lasting relationships and showing commitment to the 3-Day in all they do.

Please join us in congratulating the 2019 Seattle 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Penny Kellam!

The amount of love for Penny on the Seattle 3-Day is unparalleled, and her team Kindred Spirits teammates could not stop gushing about her.

Teammate Denise Stark says, “Penny to me epitomizes the 3-Day in our community. She has rallied people and support to fight breast cancer through Susan G. Komen from all walks of life. She’s what I would describe as an influencer and a networker, connecting people and organizations with the cause and with each other that might otherwise have never connected. I would not be involved with the 3-Day today had it not been for a random meeting through the run she organizes every year to raise funds for the 3-Day. I can’t think of anyone who has done more to inspire and to deserve the Local Impact award than Penny.”

Kris Lambright, another one of Penny’s teammates, echoes those feelings.

“Penny is an amazing team captain! She makes sure that all teammates get help if needed to be fully funded, she makes sure you are prepared to walk (not just trained but with packing tips, Thursday team dinner, Thursday night hotel, etc.), and she has made the team into a family that supports each other not only on the walk but throughout the year. She also emphasizes the importance of kindness during the 3-Day – to other walkers, crew, and supporters. She basically just embodies our team name of Kindred Spirits.”

Then, we heard about Penny’s 3-Day love and dedication, right from Penny herself!

What was your inspiration to do your first 3-Day?

I was diagnosed with cervical and uterine cancer in late 1999. At the time I was given a 24% chance of survival. The uterine cancer was posed to take me out, but I was blessed with an amazing team of professionals that had a plan, listened me (and my gut instincts) and developed and adjusted a plan that respected my needs and brought me through.  We made decisions together that might not work for everyone but that worked for me. The absolute worst moment of my entire cancer journey was sharing my diagnosis with my sons – 13 & 15 at time. No parent should ever see the ragged fear in their child’s eyes that too many of us have witnessed.

What has brought you back to the 3-Day year after year?

That first year I walked for myself. It was all about my journey and my need to draw a line in the sand between cancer patient and cancer survivor. It was selfish but necessary. No apologies here.

That said that first walk was supposed to be a one and done…but something changed on Day 2. I was walking alone after putting a teammate on a Sweep Van. I was walking as fast as I could to move through the walkers to where I knew I knew a couple of my teammates were walking ahead. I went to pass “on the left” of a pair of young gals – in their 20’s, wearing matching shirts with “For the Love of Josie” on the back. One of them carried a pair of worn tennis shoes with a brand new sparkly angel – and I knew my heart couldn’t stand to ask. I’d been crying for two days and I thought I was spent.  But the universe had other ideas. The person behind me asked about Josie. And I listened. It turned out that Josie was Mom to one of these young girls. She had trained and fundraised and planned to walk with these best friends. They carried her training shoes because Josie had passed two weeks before but they couldn’t walk without her. I cried for the next two miles. Seriously cried. Because in that split second I had the vision of my boys walking with my face on their shirts and my shoes slung across their shoulder. And nothing about that was okay.

Then I saw the big picture.  I suddenly understood how absence of one of us throws ripples into the pond that never end. I had no choice but to sign up again…and again…and again. This year I’m walking New England (#34), Seattle (#35) and San Diego (#36) where my husband will join me as a first-time walker.

What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success?

Ask everybody and then ask them again. Do not take the opportunity away from someone to support this important work by deciding for them that they aren’t interested in or capable of helping. You have no idea how this monster may have affected them or their family or their friends. I have too many personal stories of times when I hesitated to ask but finally took the plunge only to be overwhelmed by connections I didn’t know about and the absolute generosity of people I had thought unable to financially support this cause. Ask everybody!!

What is your best advice to anyone walking the 3-Day?

Enjoy the journey. There is something uniquely special about the people that step outside their personal comfort zone to do something this bold and challenging. Talk to everybody. Really talk to them. You’ll hear stories that you’ll never forget. You’ll enrich your 3-Day experience with every conversation. Stop and hug that survivor on the side of the road. Talk to the littles that come out to cheer you on. Don’t rush through everything looking at your feet. Consciously make the effort to look up and connect.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I spent the first seven years of my life as a proud resident of North Pole, Alaska. Santa Claus lived just down the highway from me, I routinely fell asleep to the crackle of the Northern Lights and we had a momma moose that would bring her calves to winter in the protection of the “L” formed by our house – all of which I thought was perfectly normal until I moved down to Washington State just before high school.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day?

  • Kindness is everything.
  • We can do the hard things – especially when we think we can’t.
  • Family comes from many different places and only some of them may share your bloodline.
  • There are a lot of things in this world that I cannot change but I can talk and walk and organize and motivate and until cancer is a footnote in the history books you can expect to find me doing all of those things to speed along the end of this monster.