Meet Cathy O’Grady, Philadelphia 3-Day T-Rex

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October is an awesome month for many reasons; the Atlanta 3-Day, it’s Fall, and its Halloween! To help with your costume planning, we have some prehistoric inspiration from the Philadelphia 3-Day. Cathy O’Grady has walked the Boston 3-Day twice, and also walked in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Arizona. She’s also crewed the Philadelphia 3-Day twice.

If you were on the Philadelphia 3-Day you may know Cathy, even if you don’t know her face, and it might be hard to know her face – because Cathy is also known as the Philadelphia T-Rex! In addition to her crewing duties, Cathy keeps the walkers laughing and smiling through all 60 miles of their 3-Day journey, as well as giving them some great photo opportunities. What makes her such a dedicated 3-Dayer? Let’s find out!

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How did you first become involved with the 3-Day?

I lost my mother to breast cancer and I always wanted to get involved but constantly made excuses why I couldn’t do it. One summer, I was speaking to my friend from Utah and she informed me that she would come to Boston and walk with me. That’s all I needed to hear so I immediately signed up. I never realized what a life-changing experience I was about to undergo.

What were your first 3-Day experiences like?

I and my friend Tracy had NO idea what we were doing. We didn’t train, we wore the wrong type of sneakers and just followed the crowds to walk from Framingham to Waltham. We started as a team of 2 and, by the time we got to Waltham, we were a team of thousand, because everyone was our friend.

Day 2 brought torrential downpours and lots of unhappy walkers…but not us! We hunkered down in our tent and just made memories. […]

The following year, we were a team of twelve. We formed the “Sofia’s Angels” (the same year I started my nonprofit foundation under the same name).  We perform real acts of kindness! As small as leaving quarters on gumball machines to giving coats, scarves and other warm items for the homeless, to paying off over 20K in layaways at Christmas time at Toys ‘R’ Us. Most recently we were able to raise 50K to purchase a handicap-accessible van for a family!

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When did you first don the T-Rex costume and why?

Last year, I had signed up to crew in Philly.  It was my first time crewing and, being a previous walker, I knew how much strength and laughter I took away from seeing people at the cheering stations. I wanted to do something big! What’s big? A T-Rex! So I ordered it and, although I was sweating in it, it was truly so rewarding to see all the walkers and random people smiling and approaching me for pictures.

How do you keep the walkers smiling all weekend?

I have hidden and jumped out to scare them. I have chased them for a hug. I have held their hands as they crossed the finish line and coming back to camp. I danced with them at camp. I smiled more than they did through all of this because I could see how much they loved it. The best part was that people didn’t know who I was so, when I wasn’t wearing the T-Rex, I would hear people talking about finding T-Rex for pictures!

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Why is laughter important on the 3-Day?

I think all the emotions we feel during the 3-Day are important. Laughter is contagious! Seeing someone laughing and smiling, you can’t help but do the same.

What are other tips or “must-dos” do you have for 3-Dayers?

You must sit back and just take in all that is happening around you. I rushed through my first 3-Day and felt like I didn’t take the opportunity to really appreciate the experience. Also, talk to others! EVERYONE has a story and everyone is willing to share it.

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What keeps you coming back year after year?

I feel like I’m making a difference. I just became a grandmother to a beautiful baby girl and, by the time she is old enough to understand what breast cancer WAS, I want it to be a WAS.

We agree, Kathy – we can’t wait until the day that breast cancer is extinct. Thanks for cheering on our 3-Day family with your terrific T-Rex!

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Meet Dennis Kirkpatrick, 3-Day Route Safety Crew Member

Escorting last walker

“There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything was a miracle.”- Albert Einstein.

That quote lies below Dennis Kirkpatrick’s name as his email signature, and no quote could more perfectly sum up the impact he has made on the 3-Day. His official role is Route Safety Crew Member, but he also considers his job to be the “giving the walkers a ‘hard time’ person, hug giver and receiver.”

After greeting his wife at the finish line of her first 3-Day he knew he had to find a way to participate, too. He saw how much fun the crew was having together, all while keeping 3-Dayers safe and giving to a great cause. He decided to join the 3-Day as a crew member the next year.

Family time when Sandy and Carol were walking

The 3-Day is now a family affair as his wife continues to walk, and his daughter supports the walkers as well.

“I love to watch my wife figure out the route (before and during) the walk.  I love working with my daughter taking care of the walkers while making them smile! We are working together for a cause which helps to bring us closer as a family.”

For those who are interested in joining the crew alongside Dennis and his family, Dennis says,

“If you like having fun and meeting very interesting people, come join us.

If you like to hear good stories of fun and encouragement, come join us.

If you like to hear about bravery and why supporting the 3-Day is so important, come join us.”

Dennis on his motorcycle heading to next stop

Dennis says he loves the combination of working with and seeing the same, familiar 3-Day faces each year, while also adding new faces to the walk! The 3-Day is “tiring, fun and inspiring,” but that’s what keeps him coming back year after year.

“It takes a lot of people behind the scenes to make big events work.  We are a team that works together!”

Dennis and Sandy (Daughter) going for a ride

If you want to join the 3-Day crew alongside Dennis this year, you can find out about all the opportunities on our website. We’d love to have you!

Now tell us, what are some of your favorite Crew memories from 3-Days past?

Pros and Cons of Being a Loyal Volunteer (or 3-Day Crew Member)

To finish out National Volunteer Week, we are breaking down all the pros (and even some of the cons) of being a loyal 3-Day volunteer and Crew Member.

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Pro: You’ve proudly collected and saved each T-shirt from every event you’ve supported.

Con:  You’ve outgrown your dresser space and even after repurposing your extras into creative items (skirts, shorts, pillows, and quilts), your closet still resembles a T-shirt store.

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Pro: Walkers and runners are so thankful at seeing your smiling face as you hand them a refreshing cup of water at a hydration stop.

Con:  Your co-workers look at you strangely when in the break room you cheer “Eat, drink, pee, and there will be no IV.”

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Pro: Participants love seeing your creative and flashy outfits at their rest stops.

Con: You have burns on your fingertips from hot gluing decorations to your clothes.

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Pro: At the end of an event you might find yourself taking home a full box of sweet and salty granola bars, gramwiches or a lot of bananas.

Con: Your lunches consist of sweet and salty granola bars and gramwiches for two weeks. Plus your kids don’t like banana bread.

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Pro: You’ve become an extremely early riser!

Con:  On those rare weekends that you’re not volunteering at an event, you have a hard time sleeping in past 5am.

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Pro: You are an event expert, and answer hundreds of questions from participants and spectators all day long.

Cons: At the end of a long and tiring day, you can’t answer one simple question – where did I leave MY car?

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Pro: You make sure participants have a safe route and are skilled at traffic control at busy intersections.

Con: You are tempted to get out of your car when in a crowded parking lot to show people how to get thousands of cars to the nearest exit!

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Pro: You’ve become accustomed to hugging everyone you meet, regarding them as instant family.

Con:  Not everyone is “a hugger.”

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Pro: There’s never a shortage of emotional surges of inspiration when seeing participants complete the event.

Con: No one understands the high you have for the week after the event; not even your kids.

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