Susan G. Komen 3-Day Coaches’ Favorite Memories from 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, we are taking a look back at all the wonderful 3-Days of 2016. We celebrated our 150th 3-Day Walk in Michigan this year, and all of the 3-Days had many high points. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day Coaches spent the entire year supporting walkers, crew members and volunteers across the country, and when the event season began in August, they hit the road alongside our walkers. With that in mind, we asked the 3-Day coaches to share their favorite memories from the 2016 3-Day season.

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Gayla (Dallas/Fort Worth Local Events Coach) – At the 2016 #MI3Day I was the caboose. When I  passed by Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor behind the last walkers, Elizabeth was outside and asked me all about the 3-Day. She said she had been outside cheering on the walkers as they passed and told me she’s a breast cancer survivor herself. After chatting a while she asked me to wait a minute while she walked inside. She came back outside with a $40 cash donation.

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Some of Gayla’s other top memories include:

  • Hanging out with the Survivors and Honor flag bearers at DFW 3-Day rehearsal.
  • Stealing a box of grahamwiches with the DFW3Day coaches and getting caught on camera by the 3-Day Social Media Manager, Alyssa!
  • Toasting in DFW to 150 events and the beautiful rainbow after the Closing Ceremony in DFW.

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Kathleen (Seattle Crew & Volunteer Coordinator) – The Seattle Bike Police were out in full force in Seattle this year. I was also the staff person on pit stop 2 in Dallas, where they built an incredible Wizard of Oz themed world!

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Jen (Seattle Participant Coach) – One of my memories is of Terri Z. (wearing the pink hat in the middle of the photo). Terri has mostly walked in Philadelphia and I worked with her when I was the Philly coach. She doesn’t use email or a computer, so all of our communication was via phone, which doesn’t happen all that often! In all of our talks, she never mentioned she is a breast cancer survivor. I saw her coming in with the survivors and was shocked as she never had mentioned it. She told me after the event that walking into the Closing Ceremony was one of the most moving memories of her life. J

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Jen (Seattle Participant Coach) – Another memory is of Kathy B. (left hand side of photo). Kathy was our Local Impact Award winner and also spoke at camp on Friday night. She is battling triple negative breast cancer. I got to know her in the couple of weeks leading up to the event and can honestly say I will be forever touched by her story and strength. Amazing, amazing lady.

Ann (Michigan Field Marketing Coordinator) – My favorite moments in 2016 were all the times I walked into a pit stop or camp and a walker shouted my name. It’s always so great to connect with folks that I don’t get to see all the time and I love seeing them out on the route. It’s always so wonderful to hear about how their walk is going!

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Jennifer (Michigan Participant Coach) – One favorite memory happened in Michigan and that was sharing the experience with my husband, Charles.  He is not new to the 3-Day but he was new to the Michigan 3-Day and it was fun to hear about his experiences on the route and at the event, which differ greatly from my own.

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Jennifer also said, I loved getting all of the 2016 Series walkers and crew (those participating in all 7 events) in one place for a group photo.  I am the coach who works closely with this group throughout the year, mainly so they simply have one point of contact.  This group is hard to wrangle into one spot so I choose Friday morning, before the Opening Ceremony, in San Diego and we were lucky enough to get this group on the stage before the ceremony began.

These walkers who walked all 7 events this year (from the right in the photo, Jim, Carol, Dena, Pala, Karen, Ellen & Christa) and Kenny (far left of the photo) crewed all 7 events this year.

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Tisho (Philadelphia Participant Coach) – One of my favorite moments this year was being able to stand right inside the finish arch at the Philadelphia 3-Day and watch my participants come in. As a coach I spend so much time talking to people on the phone and over email but I rarely get to see them face to face. Having the opportunity to be right there as they achieve this huge milestone was simply amazing. One of these moments was captured in the beautiful photo above. Kathy DiRusso, captain of one of our top teams, The Cup Crusaders, walked in to the finish area, and I was able to greet her with a giant congratulatory hug. Finishing a 3-Day, whether it’s your first or your 21st is such an incredible mix of joy, pride and relief and I think this photo captures all of them. (Photo credit: Jim Hillman)

Eileen (Twin Cities Participant Coach) – One of my favorite memories was playing shuttle bus driver at lunch in the Twin Cities this year. Lunch was set up in the parking lot of a local school. It was cold and had been pouring rain all day. We decided to open the school as a place for our walkers to get out of the rain while they ate lunch.

The walkers had to walk past the entrance of the school to the other end of the property to pick up their lunches. So to get into the school the walkers would have to walk the route backwards about ½ a mile (and then re-walk it when they were done with lunch!).

Stephanie and I decided to run shuttles from the lunch pit stop back to the school entrance. We had so much fun doing it! It was a great afternoon and everyone appreciated our efforts.  The best part for me was that I got to meet a lot of walkers I would not normally meet.  Our long-time participants don’t often need a coach’s assistance so I don’t have many opportunities to get to know them.  This turned out to be a great way to finally put faces to the names I see every day!

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Several of our staff had memories about a very special participant, Barry Blauer, who celebrated a great milestone in Michigan this year. These are their memories with Barry!

Jennifer (Michigan Participant Coach) – I had a few favorite moments on the events this year but the number one for me happened in Michigan.  Barry Blauer is a long time 3-Day participant, and he celebrated a huge milestone while on the Michigan 3-Day this year, participating in more than 80 events.  Barry was one of the original series walkers back in the day, fundraising and walking in ALL 14 events in a single year and doing it more than once. In the last few years Barry has been battling ALS.  Even with his physical challenges Barry participated this year in the Michigan 3-Day.  He participated in a wheelchair mostly and had help along the way. With a little behind the scenes magic, Barry was the last walker into the Participant Finish Area on the Sunday of the event and it was emotional to witness but so powerful.  I was crying but I also had chills to watch his determination to WALK under that inflatable banner and all the way to the victory shirt tent.

After the Closing Ceremony, I helped Barry and his wife get back to their car and the last thing he said to me as I hugged him and congratulated him again was, “I will be back next year.” Barry is currently signed up as a crew member for the 2017 Michigan 3-Day.

Gina (Michigan Crew & Volunteer Coordinator) – The memory I have is Lloyd, one of our Route Safety Crew members, pushing Barry into the Participant Finish area. Everyone was on the feet, cheering, crying…paying tribute to Barry.

Gayla (Dallas/Fort Worth Local Events Coach) – Walking in behind long-time walker Barry Blauer in Michigan. He’s now walked 86 3-Day events!

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With all of these amazing memories, it’s not hard to see why our 3-Day community comes back every year to make their mark in the fight against breast cancer. 3-Dayers, we ask you; what’s YOUR favorite memory from 2016? Join us in reflection by posting in the comments!

3-Day Fundraising for Introverts

“I’m too shy to ask people for money.”

“I don’t know that many people.”

“I live in a small town so my resources are limited.”

When it comes to fundraising for the 3-Day, we hear lots of reasons why walkers are nervous or hesitant about diving in. In many cases, that fundraising anxiety is rooted in a very personal place. Are you an introvert? Typically quiet and uncomfortable with confrontations (even positive ones), many introverts cringe at the thought of asking people for donations. Or in other cases, you not be fearful of asking for donations, except you don’t know very many people to ask. What’s an introverted walker to do?

The 3-Day coaches—all of whom have personal experience with fundraising for the 3-Day themselves—address these concerns from participants all the time, and they’ve shared some ideas and strategies that will help 3-Day participants of all personalities and situations be successful with their fundraising efforts.

Delegate to the Extroverts in Your Life – If you personally are uneasy about asking people for donations, go to some of your more outgoing friends or relatives and ask them to help. We all know those people who aren’t afraid to talk to anyone, and they are wonderful to have in your corner. Ask them post links to your fundraising page on their Facebook, have them stand with you outside the market to collect donations (your precocious and adorable kids are perfect for this job!), or task them with handing out your donation form to their co-workers. Your extroverted friends can be a great asset to your fundraising efforts.

The Kindness of Strangers – If you don’t know very many people whom you can ask directly for donations, there are things you can do to benefit from the generosity of people you don’t even know. “Start simple,” says Tara, the Atlanta 3-Day Local Events Coach. “Put out cans for change at local stores or restaurants, do a restaurant night where they give you a portion of the sales and all you have to do is stand at the door and hand out your flyers during the time they allow. You can make a few hundred dollars at a time with a bake sale at your child’s school, a garage sale, or by setting up outside the local grocery store with pink balloons and information on what you are doing. Even if people don’t give money right away, always hand them your donation form and let them decide to give later.” Your potential donors don’t have to be your best friends. The dry cleaner, your child’s teacher, librarian, coffee shop clerk, neighbor, mailman, dentist, hairstylist – any of these people may have a personal connection to breast cancer and would love to make a donation.2015_3DAY_SEAsun_EDB  (705)

Start Somewhere Comfortable – Michigan 3-Day Participant Coach Jennifer shared this story about a first-time walker she helped: “She really wanted to walk but was very worried about the fundraising and hated the thought of asking people for money. Together, we decided to start with a group of people that she already felt comfortable with: her church. She got up at her church’s Sunday services to speak briefly about the 3-Day and about her fundraising goal. She was very nervous about this, but she know it was a safe and welcoming place, so she did it.  Not only did she get donations from church members but the church itself gave her a check for $1000 directly.” Whether it’s your church, your office, or your immediate family, if you start by asking people you’re very comfortable and familiar with, it will get you going in the right direction and give you the confidence to open that circle even wider when you’re ready.

The Power of Technology – We like to encourage 3-Dayers to ask for donations face-to-face when possible, because that personal contact is really good at compelling people to donate. But for some people, the thought of that kind of interaction is just too intimidating. In that case, the internet is an outstanding resource. Being able to take time to write out a fundraising email or Facebook post allows you to get your wording just right and not have to deal with the awkwardness or discomfort you may feel with a face-to-face request for donations. The internet also allows you to reach much farther than your own immediate community. Even if you live in a small town or far away from your closest friends and family members, technology makes it so easy to reach them across the miles. The 3-Day has a Facebook app that you can set up to post on your behalf, or you can write your own posts on a regular basis that will reach your friends no matter where they live. Same goes for email. It’s fast, easy and free to send email messages to everyone you have an email address for (and I do mean everyone), and if you email from your Participant Center, your message will automatically include a link to your donation page. 2015_3DAY_ATL_GF_0360

Go Old Fashioned – On the other hand, several coaches swear by the power of good ‘ol postal mail. Alyssa, one of the 3-Day’s social media coaches, shared, “My favorite and most successful fundraising tactic was writing a letter and MAILING it. Snail mail, not email. People seem to really respond to something tangible like a heartfelt letter in their hands. Include your donation form (you can write the personal URL for your donation page on the top, in case they want to donate online), a stamped return envelope, a deadline you want to meet, and sign your name (with a pen! Don’t just type it). This really shows people you mean business and have enough passion to give them everything they need to donate besides the check and pen.” Twin Cities Local Events Coach Stephanie agrees. “Mail each letter in a brightly colored envelope or if you have young kids get them involved and have them decorate the envelope for you. Your donors will be sure to open a piece of mail that is hand-written and jumps out of the mailbox at them.”

Something In Return – Ann, the Local Events Coach for the Michigan 3-Day (and a self-proclaimed introvert) uses social media as her go-to fundraising tool, but she knows that people like getting stuff, so she also ties in donor incentives. “I often do giveaways, sales, or auctions and Facebook and Twitter are my main ways of driving awareness and participation in those events.” She also likes to hold restaurant fundraisers, knowing that hey, people have to eat! Folks in her community get a tasty meal and a night of no cooking, and her fundraising account gets a nice bump in dollars. “They’re good ‘in-person’ events because you don’t actually have to interact with people if you don’t want to. If you CAN manage to at least stop by people’s tables and say hello and thank you, you can definitely increase the money you raise with some conversation. But if you absolutely can’t bring yourself to talk to folks, it’s a-ok too, because you’ll still earn funds just from them eating at the restaurant that night!”

Don’t Ask. Instead, Tell Your Story – Paula, the Participant Coach for the Seattle 3-Day, says that you can send a powerful message to your potential donors without ever actually asking them for money. “Write a letter or a Facebook post to tell everyone what you are doing and why. ‘I have decided to do something I never thought possible–walk 60 miles over 3 days–and here’s why.’ Then share your own reason for walking. For example, ‘I had to say goodbye to a dear friend this year after she lost her battle with breast cancer, and vowed that I would honor her memory by challenging myself to walk in the 3-Day and raise $2,300 that will provide research, treatment and education so others are spared the loss of a loved one. Nothing is going to stop me in reaching my goal. Here’s how you can help,’ then share the link to your fundraising page.” Make the story heartfelt and personal to you, and it will become personal to your donors as well.  2015_3DAY_DFWsun_EDB (159)

Team Up! – Many teams take on fundraising as a group, then divide up the proceeds amongst team members who helped with the efforts. “Speak with a coach to get you connected to a team,” says Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Local Events Coach Gayla. “Even if you don’t live close by, there are things you can do to include yourself with the team’s fundraisers. Whether it’s selling raffle tickets, creating flyers, calling restaurants to set up fundraisers, etc., this is the kind of help each team needs to have successful fundraisers.”

Keep Your Expectations Realistic – This is important advice for ALL 3-Day fundraisers, introverts and extroverts alike. For the majority of 3-Day walkers, fundraising is a slow-and-steady process. No matter which fundraising strategies you use, more than likely, it will take you several weeks or even months to work up to your $2,300 goal. That’s okay! Don’t get discouraged if it’s taking a long time, just keep chipping away at it. If you approach your fundraising with the realistic expectation that it will take time, you will remain motivated to keep going. And as always, your biggest motivation to not give up should be whatever it was that motivated you to take on the 3-Day to begin with.

Congratulations to the Twin Cities 3-Day Milestone Award Winner: George N.!

Congratulations to George Nummer, the Susan G. Komen Twin Cities 3-Day Milestone Award winner! George is in his 11th year of involvement with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, on his 32nd event, and has raised over $81,000 in his life towards fighting breast cancer.

George takes on Day 2 of the Twin Cities 3-Day

George takes on Day 2 of the Twin Cities 3-Day

George has walked the Komen 3-Day in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas / Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Twin Cities, and Washington D.C. (whew!). In 2007, George walked all twelve 3-Day® events, and with every step George takes, he’s helping to spread the message that early detection is key. Along the route yesterday, he spoke with 14 women who promised they would get mammograms. At the Camp Show last night, George asked women in the audience to raise their hands and promise that they would get mammograms. This passionate advocacy for detection has already saved one life, as George tells the story of a young women who got a mammogram despite her insurance not covering it because she wasn’t 40. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and thanked George for encouraging her to get screened. Because they caught it early, it was treatable. As he likes to say, “What’s more important: the money or your life?”

Fundraising $81,000 is no small feat, and George has fine-tuned his fundraising strategies over the years. “I was hesitant the first time I ever fundraised, and I put in a lot of my own money,” he said. One of George’s favorite ways to raise money is by writing letters. “I send a couple hundred letters out a year,” he said. He also recommends that you get creative with your fundraising. George is a retired electrician and started working side jobs for donations. He also learned to talk to people on training walks and to tell them about his fundraising goals. “Ask for a donation. All they can do is say no – you’d be surprised how many people will donate to you!” George has also sold buttons and badges for fundraising.

George sells buttons and badges for his fundraising efforts.

George sells buttons and badges for his fundraising efforts.

There’s no doubt that seeing George’s smiling face around both Michigan and Twin Cities this year has been a joy for many participants, evident in the numerous photo opps George has been a part of. George’s advice to other 3-Dayers? “Don’t make a race out of it. Take your time, stop and smell the roses, talk to people.”

“After I finish this walk, I’ll be 20 miles short of my 2,000 mile mark. So I signed up for Michigan for next year – after Day 1, I’ll have my 2,000 miles,” George said. We’re grateful for George and every mile he’s walked with our wonderful 3-Day family, helping us get one step closer to ending breast cancer forever.