Why I Walk: Amber B. from the San Diego 3-Day

You may have heard about some magical traveling pants on the big screen, but the group you really should get to know is ‟The Sisterhood of the Traveling Boobs,” including Amber B. She has been participating in the 3-Day since 2003 and finished her 16th 3-Day in San Diego this fall. Since her first walk, her mom, aunt, and friends have joined her on and off throughout the years. But Amber participates no matter what!

It has become her passion, and she loves putting the work into her training and fundraising to make every year better than the last. That includes her plans for 2020 and continuing to recruit new team members to her cause. She will continue to walk until a cure is found. She’s sharing some of that passion with us by sharing her story, and her best tips for newcomers.

How have your 3-Day experiences changed over the last 16 events?

I’ve participated 12 times in Dallas/Fort Worth and 4 times in San Diego.

I slept in the pink tents at camp for the first 12 years and really enjoyed that. I’ve walked through 100-degree heat and rain. I’ve done it all!

Overall, the camaraderie and organization has been amazing over the years. I was a part of the Camp Services Crew in 2009 as a first-time crew member. I really enjoyed it, but quickly figured out my passion was walking.

In the summer of 2016, I was in an accident and broke my neck and sternum. My overall goal was to heal well enough to attend the San Diego 3-Day in November because I had already raised my money. I talked the doctor into taking my halo off on Tuesday so that I could fly to San Diego on Thursday for the event. I had to wear a collar 24/7 for several months but I got the approval to travel (see photo above). I met some wonderful walkers on the flight who were supportive and checked in on me throughout the weekend. I ended up walking 21 miles that weekend, even though most of it was a mile here and a mile there. It was just so wonderful to actually be ‟normal” for the first time in months and knowing I had made a difference, even in my condition, was so good for my soul. As taxing as this event can be on the body, knowing what I was doing for others is what got me through. After that year, I spoke with a couple of ladies I went to high school with, 20-25 years or so ago (but who’s counting) and they decided to join me the next year in San Diego. I got them hooked as well and they’ve been with me ever since! Each year my team averages 2-10 people, and we’re all connected in some way.

What are a few of your top training tips? 

I do have to say that just walking and getting in shape overall was the best advice I received. Starting early and getting some good socks and shoes is also key. Use the new mobile iPhone training app, too! I used it last year and it was really helpful! Plus, the year-round training walks are always fun and a great way to get to know other walkers.

How about any fundraising ideas?

I’m lucky to have a small group of people who donate to me every year. I worry I annoy people because I’ve been asking for donations for 16 years, but people are still so generous!

As a team, we do a lot of events, restaurant fundraisers and football pots. I’ve had bake sales during the lunch hour for the last several years at my office that are also extremely successful. This year, we’re going to have a tailgate fundraiser at a Ranger game and we’re thinking about having a concert or golf tournament as well.

No matter what, just ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive. So, write letters, email or ask in person. You’ll be surprised at the responses. The worst they can say is no!

What was it like in San Diego this year?

I had a team of six this year, including my aunt who is a 14-year walker and my mom, who walked with me for the first time in 10 years. So, it was wonderful! The weather was beautiful, the community was fantastic, and the support was amazing

I loved the route as well! I liked the changes that were implemented this year and crossing that final bridge on Day 3 was really beautiful.

What are your plans for 2020?

I’ve already signed up for San Diego next year! Plus, I’ve already talked to a couple of people who may walk with me. When they asked me why I walk, I told them it’s not only for the obvious reason — that one of these days we WILL find a cure for breast cancer — but that it’s also good for our mental health.

For three days we’re all the same and the love we share with hundreds of total strangers, plus the community, is unheard of. It may be physically difficult, but it’s mentally rewarding and refreshing.

Why should everyone #Commit3Days and walk the 3-Day?

First, I know we will ultimately find a cure for breast cancer and give people a chance to prolong their life with the clinical trials and medical treatment they wouldn’t otherwise receive.

Also, the event itself is life changing. For three days, everyone is the same religion, same sex, same size, same color, same everything. For three days the world’s regular problems are gone, and your heart is filled with hope and love. Yes, there is a possibility you’ll be so sore you can hardly lift your legs to step up onto a curb on Monday, and you may have blisters between your toes or lose toenails, but for three straight days your heart is filled with love.

Where else can you go to see a little boy standing on the side of the road with a sign that says, ‟Thank you for walking for my mom,” or a 25 year old woman holding a sign that says, ‟What you’re doing saved my life”? Random strangers thank you for walking and offer you food and drinks just because you’re doing something nice for a wonderful cause. Businesses decorate their exteriors in pink and offer discounts to participants. I can honestly say in the last 15 years I have never come across an unkind person. It makes you believe in the world again, and in this day and age, this is definitely needed.

Join Amber on the 3-Day in 2020 by registering to join us now at The3Day.org! Right now, through the end of January, we are offering $20 off registrations, no code needed! We can’t wait to reunite with all of you on the 3-Day next year.

Congratulations to the 2019 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Mary Tengra

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 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Mary Tengra!

Mary’s teammates can’t say enough good things about her! They raved, “When someone asks Mary how much further, she will always say, “7 more minutes” – no matter how much further. When asked how far the training walk will be, she’ll also always estimates with “-ish” after the mileage (like “12-ish miles”).

She works hard to find fundraising opportunities for the team, always encourages single walkers to join her team and is literally available for her teammates, no matter what they need. What you see is what you get with Mary and that’s why we love her.”

And we love her too! That’s why we had to hear about Mary’s 3-Day in her own words! When she answered these questions, Mary didn’t yet know she’d be our Local Impact Award Winner…

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

Of course, to find a cure, but also to meet new people! To have a purpose since my children had all left the nest and we had moved to a new house.

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

Friends – the joy of walking – and being outside!

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

I am lucky in the fundraising department: I married a rich man haha 😊

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

Train with a group, it’s much more fun! You will make lasting friendships.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I don’t have hidden talents – but I will tell you I enjoy sitting on the couch eating French fries and watching TV after a long walk!

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

Dress in light layers for cool weather. You don’t want to carry extra clothes for 20 miles. But, with that said, wearing something decorative is a lot of fun. I wear yellow on Sunday at the 3-Day!

Happy Halloween from the 3-Day Awarewolves

What’s that? Do you hear that howling? Is it Halloween? Or is it…The Awarewolves?!

This amazing team is a staple on the 3-Day, and their costumes keep them Halloween-ready all year long! They walked with us in New England in September, but their 3-Day journey began long before that. It began when Linda Lafragiola was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, when she and her sister Kathi Elliot decided that breast cancer would not beat them.

Linda explains, “Since being diagnosed, I decided to raise awareness about early detection and how important it is. Participating in the 3-Day allows me to share my story and experiences with any and everybody, year-round.”

What began as a promise, and a walk, between two sisters, has now grown to a whole team! That team includes their very own Awarewolf, Kathi’s beautiful Siberian Husky, Nika. Nika joined many of Linda and Kathi’s early training walks and quickly became their mascot.

After one of those such walks, the sisters started sharing possible team names with Kathi’s husband, David and her daughter Paige. They were talking about how everyone on the walks jokingly asks if Nika is a wolf, and right on cue, David began singing “Werewolves of London.” Suddenly, the group was singing “Werewolves in San Diego” instead, in honor of their upcoming walk in California.

From there, they all talked about how their team mission was about awareness and early detection, in honor of Linda’s own early diagnosis. So, David came up with AwareWolves. Paige created the team logo. Kathi coined the tagline, “Don’t be afraid — Early detection saves lives”. Linda found the amazing hot pink wolf ears. But they each came up with their own signature howls! And from there, a team was born.

More of how their story and team began, in Kathi’s own words…

“Linda learned that she had breast cancer in 2011. Fortunately, it was an early diagnosis and the cancer was limited to a small tumor. She underwent surgery that summer, followed by six weeks of radiation.

Mid-way through her treatment a friend asked Linda to join her at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in San Francisco in June 2012. She thought, ‘60 miles in 3 days…if I can survive breast cancer then I can do that!’

As a sister of someone who is going through something like breast cancer, you try to find ways to be helpful. Driving Linda to radiation appointments was something I could do. When Linda said she was walking, I said, ‘Why not me too?!’ From then on, the drives to radiation became a time to plan fundraisers and future training walks.

Linda’s last radiation appointment was on November 1, 2011 and the next morning, we laced up our sneakers and started training. Several months later, we had logged more than 1,000 miles and raised over $5,000 dollars each – enough for two 3-Day walks. So, we decided to register for the San Diego 3-Day in November 2012, as well.

Clearly walking 60 miles is no small feat, especially factoring in inclement weather and hilly terrain, but any 3-Day participant will tell you that the aches, pains and blisters are worth it.

Linda says her first 3-Day in San Francisco was emotional, inspiring and eye opening. It really hit home.

She told me, ‘I met so many women and men whose lives had been touched by breast cancer. It was mind boggling! It helped me to go from feeling like a victim — saying why did this happen to me? — to actually doing something about it.’

Not long after completing our second 3-Day in San Francisco, Linda and I officially started our team, cleverly named…The AwareWolves.”

But that was only the beginning of so many amazing memories for their team and their sisterhood!

Since then, they have walked in nearly ten 3-Days in different cities, and their team has only grown in number and recognition!

“The AwareWolves pack has grown, just by the people we have met along our journey,” explains Linda. “Some of them are veteran 3-Day walkers and crew members. Some are first-time walkers who have joined us to see what it’s all about. Everyone loves our signature ears and I swear some people have joined just to rock the ears and howl with the pack! 😄 And, we’re ok with that! Our team is made up of people from all over the US and although we walk at different speeds, we know we are there for each other. 💕 We are known for taking our time, enjoying the event and everything that comes with being in the pink bubble.”

Though in the past the Awarewolves have been in that pink bubble for a few Halloween weekend walks, this year Linda will be part of a group costume, which is a Pac-Man theme, instead!

She and Kathi are gearing up to walk in San Diego in November, and even though Halloween might be in the rearview mirror at that point, you can expect some AwareWolves on the San Diego 3-Day trails. Just keep a pink ear perked up for their howl!