Focusing on Spreading Positivity with Survivor and 3-Dayer, Elaine

When I walked across the finish line, and my son wrapped me up in a hug and whispered, “I’m so proud of you Mom,” that went straight from my ear to my heart.

If you walked the 3-Day in Seattle or Atlanta this year, you likely saw Elaine. Or heard her! She’s a solo walker known for her constant smile and jingling outfits that signal her presence even before you see her coming.

This year marked her 9th and 10th 3-Days respectively, and her first year really highlighting her survivor story as part of our partnership with Mohawk Flooring. She says that recognition was never really something she looked for, and as a solo walker, not something she always got. She flew under the radar and made her 3-Day connections in the smaller moments. This year changed that for her.

“To have Mark say ‘Hi!’ to me by name in the morning, or to see the photographer on the route, I feel like the arms have truly been opened to me and I have been fully welcomed into the fold. And I have felt that support and recognition so much this year. I’ve been able to share my story and my message this year in a different way, even after doing this for 8 years. The arms have been opened wide. It’s a beautiful thing and a beautiful welcome.”

The 3-Day family first welcomed Elaine eight years ago, when she walked her first 3-Day while in the middle of radiation. She had already signed up for the 3-Day before her diagnosis and had even sent out more than 100 fundraising letters! She knew she knew she had reached her fundraising goals and felt that she could meet her physical goals as well. Her doctor gave her approval to walk and told her to listen to her body. So, she did. And she walked every one of those 60 miles.

Along the way, she had her first welcome from the 3-Day Pink Bubble.

“I met two Crew ladies on my first walk in Seattle. I was nervous about wearing a survivor shirt and they just enveloped me in this hug. And I was bawling, and they just kept telling me that I could do this. And to be held by them, and feel that support, was everything to me.”

She has continued to have similar memories and stories over the last decade, making new friends each year and finding new strength with every step.

“Whatever you believe in, it’s a comfort to know that there’s a plan. And it’s tough to think, “How could this be part of a plan?” But meeting those ladies on my first 3-Day, or talking to women in Atlanta this year, it just shows me that these things are meant to be this way.

I’m a pretty positive person, and I try to focus on that positive outcome. So, this has been my way to do my part.”

She also does her part year-round, fundraising all year and encouraging those around her to learn about their breast health.

“I want to shake strangers and remind people to go get their mammograms! Just go do it! Early detection is everything. I talk to everybody, whether it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month or not.”

She finished her 10th walk during Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year, and her son was there to welcome her across the finish line. Though her journey has been long and difficult, she says being a survivor has helped her find more compassion for herself daily, and that the 3-Day has shown her the worth that she brings to the world time and time again.

“It is so much more filled with compassion for me, and for anyone else who has this diagnosis. I can be so much nicer to myself, and the 3-Day helped me with that.

The universe draws us to where we need to be. The universe drew me here to the 3-Day.”

2018 Atlanta 3-Day Wrap Up

We could not have asked for a more perfect weekend to celebrate our final Atlanta 3-Day. Mother Nature gave us sunshine, cooler temperatures, and lots of beautiful sights to see and appreciate as our walkers and crew took on 60 incredible miles.

Friday dawned bright, with the sun coming up just as we started our Opening Ceremonies in the shadow of Stone Mountain. It was just the inspiration our walkers and crew needed to start the weekend off on the right foot (literally and figuratively!) The pep in our steps continued thanks to Stone Mountain Elementary, who came out for the second year in a row to cheer on our walkers. Their signs, high fives, and chants of “Just keep walking!” put a smile on every face.

From there, walkers continued along trails until they reached Pit 1 at mile marker 2.9. Our amazing Pit 1 Crew team has worked this spot on the Atlanta 3-Day for years, handing out a custom pin each year. This year, they celebrated Atlanta’s final 3-Day by handing out pins from all the 3-Day years past so walkers can hang onto those wonderful memories.

There were cheering stations all along the route, with Atlanta schools, businesses and local communities turning out to shower support on the walkers! By lunchtime, they had already conquered 12.6 miles as they rested at the Decatur Family YMCA. Walkers relaxed on the Mohawk pink mats (and chatted with the local Mohawk team!), while we were introduced to our amazing Atlanta Youth Corps!

The rest of the day went smoothly, passing through Decatur and into Atlanta city proper. Walkers loved the route, including passing through the historic Fourth Ward Park, before arriving home at the Georgia World Congress Center.

The night ended with a fun camp show where we honored local Atlanta participants, and awarded our Bank of America Top Fundraisers! Feet to Beat Breast Cancer (Top Team), Susan Breding (Top Individual) and Jake Stefan (Top Crew) inspired us all (Jake’s son was the Top Youth Corps fundraiser, too!). Feet to Beat Breast Cancer raised $75,697 this year and were also our largest Atlanta team. Susan raised $16,100 this year and has raised $40,432 in her lifetime on her team For Tits & Giggles. She’s also a seven-city walker this year! Jake raised $8,580 this year and has raised $84,753 in his lifetime over 12 events. You may know him for his tassel twirling!

Day Two brought us through Buckhead and Piedmont Heights and into Granite Properties – the home of the Atlanta Komen Affiliate! Their team came out in full force to congratulate our walkers on already conquering 8.4 miles on Day Two!

Lunch was shady and comfortable at the Trinity Presbyterian Church, and local Girl Scouts sent our walkers off with treats and cheers! Much of the rest of the afternoon was spent on Atlanta’s iconic Beltline Trail. This was a great way to see all kinds of Atlanta sights from the comfort of a walking trail.

We then made our way back into the city via Peachtree Street, again walking in urban Midtown before returning to downtown’s Georgia World Congress Center. Saturday was Friends & Family night at camp so our walkers and crew got a visit from loved ones…plus everyone’s favorite dinner: 3-Day mac n’ cheese!

And suddenly, it was already Day Three! We spent all of our final day walking through Atlanta proper, with our first Pit Stop bringing us back alongside the Beltline Trail at Mile 2.7

Our Youth Corps was everywhere on Sunday, cheering on walkers at Pit 2 (Mile 5.5), lunch at Mile 7.5 and beyond! If you were one of the lucky walkers who participated in their selfie contest, you know what a bunch of energy all of them were!

We were honored to be able to walk past Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park, his tomb and birth home on Day Three. These are such an important part of Atlanta history.

We were also once again supported by the local Atlanta community, with local radio station The Bull and clogging team PowerTaps both coming out to support walkers before they entered their final Pit Stop of the 3-Day!

Our final Closing Ceremony took place at the Atlanta International School, and we celebrated the fact that our dedicated community raised an amazing $1.1 million in the Atlanta 3-Day.

The Atlanta 3-Day may be over, but our journey to end breast cancer still has many miles to go, and we need you with us. Whether through Komen Greater Atlanta or by walking or crewing at a 2019 3-Day, there are many ways to continue to support the fight against breast cancer.

Thank you to everyone in this community who has made the Atlanta 3-Day possible. On behalf of the millions of men and women who rely on Susan G. Komen, THANK YOU ATLANTA for 14 amazing years.

Congratulations to the 2018 Atlanta 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, Carol Ann Payne-Johnson

Carol Payne Johnson- Atlanta Milestone Winner

Please join us in congratulating our 2018 Atlanta Milestone Award Winner; Carol Ann Payne-Johnson! The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Milestone Award is given at each event to a walker or crew member who has an outstanding history of participation in the Komen 3-Day. At the Atlanta 3-Day camp show, we presented Carol Ann with this special honor.

Her friend David Schwarz said he has had “the honor of knowing Carol Ann for many years. She has a contagious love of life and endless compassion for others. It is my absolute pleasure to be able to honor her in any way I can, for all she does, especially her daily acts of kindness that most people never see.”

Friend Cathy Dorfman added that, “Carol Ann is AMAZING. Having been diagnosed with stage 2 BC I cannot tell you how much I appreciate her unwavering support and dedication to finding a cure.   It is awe inspiring and the commitment she has made and kept even more so – we need many more like her to defeat this killer.”

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We also heard from Carol Ann in her own words. We she answered our questions, she didn’t know yet that she’d be receiving this award!

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

I work in our 24- hour prayer room at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. 19 years ago, in April of 1999, I received 14 requests for prayer from ladies with a breast cancer diagnosis in one day! I just couldn’t get that off my heart and mind, and I prayed about how I might do more – God always answers prayer, and literally, within three days, I had a flyer about the 3- day Avon ( at the time) walk, and signed up to do it.

What brings you back year after year?

I hope to continue walking until breast cancer is eradicated!

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Tell us the secret to your fundraising success! 

I have many corporate clients and friends, and they are very generous because they all have someone they know and love who have or have not survived breast cancer. In my fundraising letter, I always remind them of the latest statistics, and ask them to name someone or more  than one they are donating on behalf of. I then walk with those names on my backpack on pink ribbons, then send the pink ribbon to the person named with a hand-written note. People are very grateful for the personal touch.

Give your best advice to anyone walking 3-Day.

 

Buy good shoes, train, and be prepared to hear stories that will motivate you to walk year after year.

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What’s a fun fact about you?

I have been in 109 countries, and one year, I trained on all seven continents! Plus, I’m a crack shot at archery 😊

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on 3-Day?

It is a blessing in my own life to serve others this way.   We must all understand how important it is to be kind to others even in an anonymous way, and that every conclusion in research that can save a life is worthwhile.