My 3-Day Experience: Checking in with Former AVON 39 Walker, Debbie

This year on the 3-Day, we were happy and honored to welcome many past AVON 39 walkers to our pink family. One of those walkers, Debbie S., joined the 2018 San Diego 3-Day and was our Top individual Fundraiser for the event! After raising more than $75,000 as a six-time AVON 39 walker, she raised $32,000 in her first year on the 3-Day.

We were so honored to have this breast cancer survivor and grandmother of two on the 3-Day this year. After her first 60-mile walk, she’s giving us an inside peek at her journey, and her top fundraising tips!

You are a fundraising rock star! What are your favorite fundraising techniques?

I fundraise very simply, yet diligently. I start about six months ahead of the walk. I create a personal email message, which I also used on my participant center page. I include a picture of myself to keep it personal. I sent the email to every email address I have in my contacts, everyone that has ever emailed me, everyone I know, lots of people I do not know; friends, family, friends of friends and family, doctors, work contacts, clients etc. Hundreds of emails!

The first round of emails always gets a good amount of donations and keeps me going. For the next 3-4 months I send out monthly emails to those who have not yet donated. I change the email message up each time, but still keep it very personal. I continue to send my original email to ‘new’ email contacts I have gathered along the way. I ask everyone for their email and ask friends and family to share their email lists.

By September I was sending emails to those remaining donors every other week. Come October I was sending emails every week and took advantage of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Sometimes I was just sending a picture or a saying or a cartoon and my link to my donation page. It was my goal to stay in their face every time they went to their emails. I figured, the worst thing that could happen is they would just delete or block me! 😀 No harm! Many thanked me for reminding them, because with all the emails we get, they do get lost and forgotten. I sent emails every week, all the way up until the day of the walk.

I immediately sent every donor a personal thank you email. Also, every once in a while I would update those who already donated on my progress, showing them how much they were a part of raising so much money, which would occasionally make them donate again! I stressed US, and WE, not just me! I showed them what a big part of finding a cure and reaching a goal they were. The fundraising is so fun to me and gives me a great sense of accomplishment! I would wake up every morning and check email immediately to see my donations. The more I got, the more I wanted! I would raise my personal goal accordingly.

I didn’t do anything big or unusual, but I just never stopped asking!

What about training for your 60-mile walk?

As for training, I am a walker by nature. I walk year-round. I started walking diligently 13 years ago, after my cancer diagnosis. It was my escape. I have not stopped walking since. I walk an average of 30 miles a week!

You were also a part of our Opening Ceremony….

The Opening Ceremony was great! Being a part of it was so amazing and special. It was the right length of time and got everyone motivated to get out there and do this! I appreciated the time taken the day before for rehearsal and the time put into making it great!

What were some of your favorite spots along the route?

The route was beautiful! After very chilly mornings, the weather was spectacular, and the views were magnificent. Day 1 had gorgeous ocean views, but every day was beautiful. Having walked in 6 AVON 39 walks in different cities, I must say San Diego blew me away. I have never walked in a city with so much neighborhood support! It was amazing! The crew and residents and businesses were out everywhere! It was a wonderful feeling of love and support, from survivors and women going through treatment thanking us to kids and elderly showing their love!

As a survivor I couldn’t feel more support and love. The crew along the way was great! On Day 1, as it heated up, I took off my long-sleeved shirt. As I was attempting to tie it around my waist, a woman came right over to me and offered to bring it to camp for me. She put it in a bag, wrote my name and phone number on it and delivered it to camp! It seems silly, but so great to not have to walk with a shirt wrapped around you for 20 miles! She even called me later that night to make sure I got it! That’s just how people were! So sweet!

What was it like crossing the finish line?

Crossing the finish line was super special. My son walked the last day with me as a 20-mile walker! I can’t tell you how special that was! We had a great time and as we approached the finish line, my 6-year old granddaughter made a mad dash for me across the field. I picked her up, carried her and the three of us crossed the finish line together! My son said he would love to do it again, maybe all 60 miles, and my granddaughter said she would walk with me in 10 years, when she’s 16! 😀

It looks like we have a future 3-Dayer on our hands! Thank you to Debbie, and all our former AVON 39 walkers who made this 3-Day season something truly special!

Debbie S. is More Than Pink — Meet a Survivor & New 3-Day Walker

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As our 2018 3-Day season draws closer and closer, we are welcoming past AVON 39 walkers into our 3-Day® family. We want to show them the 3-Day love, because they are a wonderful addition to our cause and they are More Than Pink®.

Debbie S., will also be a proud member of our survivor and those living with metastatic breast cancer community when she joins the San Diego 3-Day in November.

Debbie was officially declared cancer-free in 2005, and since then has been an active crusader for a cure for breast cancer, as well as a staunch supporter and inspiration for those undergoing their own treatment.

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She participated in her first AVON 39 while still bald from her own treatment, and has walked in six AVON 39’s since then. She has also spoken at a breast cancer charity event in Los Angeles, A Cause for Entertainment, and was featured in Avon’s commercial last year. To say she lives to be a part of the fight against breast cancer is an understatement.

“It is so important to keep walking and raising funds for research and awareness! This is what is going to ultimately help cure this disease! Everyone knows about the strides that organizations, such as Susan G. Komen and Avon, have made and I am often asked why other cancers don’t do the same things. My answer is always: They should, you should! Raising funds and awareness is the most important thing!”

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That is why Debbie knew she could not hang up her walking shoes in 2018. She had to keep going, and was excited to join the 3-Day family. Her excitement extends towards fundraising, which she says was one of the things that drew her to the 3-Day in the first place.

“I’m actually most excited about raising more money and walking with others who are doing it for the same reasons I am: a cure! I’m always excited to show everyone how you can beat breast cancer and persevere. Nothing can stop us if we are determined!”

She is determined, in fact, to raise $25,000 this year alone, and has already raised almost $3,000 in the first 24 hours after registering. Though she says she began her fundraising journey with “The mentality that the minimum was enough,” she soon realized that “It is never enough! With every walk, my goal is to beat my last walk!”

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How does she do it? With the same passion and exuberance that has stayed with her throughout her breast cancer journey. She starts via email, sending messages to everyone in her address book (whether she knows them or not!) as well as to any emails she can collect from friends and family. She begins emailing at least six months before her walk, also using social media to kickstart her efforts.

After that, she sends reminder emails to everyone who has not donated on the first of each month. As the event approaches, she will kick it up another notch.

“About two months before the walk, I will start sending it every two weeks. The last month, I will send it every week and eventually daily! I break them all down! They all give! I also upload my letter, with my story, to my personal page for the walk.”

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Simple, but effective, is her approach, and one that has shown great success in the past. This is not just how she approaches fundraising, but how she approaches life in general.

“Being a survivor means everything to me! It means that being strong and having a positive attitude goes a long way! It means I can assure others that they can survive too! Because I am proof!”

If you see Debbie on the 3-Day route in San Diego, say hello and share a hug! She is walking solo this year, but can’t wait to meet new friends and share her story and dream of a world without breast cancer.

Siblings Side by Side: Meet Kathy and Chuck of Robb’s Ralliers at the Twin Cities 3-Day

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Our siblings can be our best friends that stick by our sides through all the years to come. They know our secrets, share memories, cheer us on and (sometimes) drive us a little crazy. But they’re family. We are lucky to have many siblings of all ages walking together on 3-Days across the country, and today, for Sibling’s Day, we are highlighting a special family duo: Kathy and Chuck H. from the Twin Cities 3-Day.

Kathy is a survivor, and has been a dedicated 3-Dayer since its first year in the Twin Cities in 2004. After being her “biggest cheerleader” that first year, Chuck joined his sister in 2005, and they have been walking together ever since.

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Kathy says, “Chuck and I have always had an amazing relationship.  The three days of the walk each year just give us time to connect in person and remind each other just how lucky we are!”

They truly show that family luck and support, adding Kathy’s daughter Megan to their team, Robb’s Ralliers, in 2016 after she was a three-time Youth Corps member, and last year Chuck’s son Cody also walked with their family. The rest of the clan comes out in full force to support Robb’s Ralliers all along the route with signs and cheers.

“We were raised in a strong family environment and taught that being there for your family is just something that you do.  The 3-Day is just a personification of this belief,” Chuck says.

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“While not all our family members walk, our entire family participates in some manner.  For me it is less about the lessons that I can learn and more about passing along values to my children.  My son, Cody, was a first-time walker in 2017 and will be back for 2018.  I have seen his commitment to the cure strengthen his relationship with his Aunt “Kate” and I can’t tell you how proud he makes me.  My daughter, Elanore, is twelve years old and she has never not known the 3-Day.”

In addition to their children, spouses, and family members, their parents continue to be Chuck and Kathy’s biggest supporters.

“Our parents are our biggest supporters, and are there for us from Opening to Closing Ceremonies.  For the Robbs, the 3-Day is an annual tradition.  It is all about commitment, strength, support, perseverance, and love and our family members all have their own way of showing the importance of these values,” Chuck explains.

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These values extend off the 3-Day trail and into the everyday life of their family as well. This is thanks to, of course, their own family, but also the family they have built in the Twin Cities 3-Day.

Even after 13 years of walking, Kathy still lights up talking about her pink bubble. “The Twin Cities 3-Day is filled with so many wonderful people—repeat walkers, repeat crew members and repeat staff members.  Everyone has an amazing story to share […]  The beauty of the Twin Cities and the weather in August is a bonus.  For me, it’s all about the people—coming together every year for three days—so many laughs, many tears shed and so much love!”

Both Kathy and Chuck say that the love and lessons they experience on the 3-Day enforce the foundation of love built throughout their family, and in their own relationship. Chuck calls Kathy “the strongest person I know and second place isn’t even close,” saying, “her will to fight and persevere never ceases to amaze me.” In turn, Kathy praises Chuck’s “huge heart and deep-rooted love for his family” …plus his amazing hugs!

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Both siblings are already signed up for the Twin Cities 3-Day in 2018, and Kathy will also be walking her second year in San Diego. Though they might not walk every mile side by side, you can bet they are cheering each other on, crossing the finish line as a family that will never quit.

Happy Sibling’s Day to Kathy, Chuck, and all our 3-Day sibling participants! If you walk with your sibling, share your favorite 3-Day memories with them below!

And, for more stories about siblings, visit this piece about the Cummings sisters.