Congratulations to the 2019 Michigan 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, Gary Bertolini

Please join us in congratulating our 2019 Milestone Award Winner; Gary Bertolini. 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 Michigan 3-Day camp show, we presented Gary with this special honor.

Gary is loved by both the 3-Day family, and his own family as well. He has managed to merge those to groups to surround himself with people who can’t say enough about him.

His son-in-law Tom Crews with Gary, and says,

If you’ve met Gary, you know that he bleeds pink for more than three days out of the year. The Michigan Komen 3-Day is not a week long event for him, but a commitment. His decade in the 3-Day aligns roughly with my entrance into his family. I remember stories of him walking the route the weeks ahead, and preparing it for walkers because that’s just what he does.

As he became more involved, we had conversations about ideas he had to increase membership and try to rejuvenate the Michigan 3-Day, and how excited he was to pass those ideas along. Three years ago, when Gary’s grand kids were old enough that we could leave them for a long weekend, I remember thinking he must have put something in the water to make me think this was a good idea, and I joined. It wasn’t in the water, it was in his passion to help others. It wasn’t good enough to raise money, he had to try to raise thousands of dollars every year! It wasn’t good enough to be on crew, Gary had to be a leader by example on that crew. He was the first one there ready to work and the last one to stop. As his son-in-law, the pressure was on, but in the best way possible. Gary’s commitment inspired me to do more than just thank him for the incredible work that he’s doing to ensure my daughter, his grand-daughter, will never have to be a survivor of this terrible illness, he inspired me to step up and be a part of the change.

Gary’s commitment to Komen, his passion for all the organization stands for, his tireless work ethic for the 3-Day weekend and the 362 days that lead up to it, and his selflessness to fight for the cure are just a few of the reasons that I’m proud to call him Dad and that have inspired me and others to get involved in this cause!”

His daughter Liz L. also Crews with their family, and has seen the 3-Day grow and live in Gary’s heart for more than a decade.

“Over the past twelve years, the 3-Day has become a big part of my dad’s life. The first year, Gary chose to walk to honor friends and family members who had been affected by breast cancer. But, like many of us, after participating one year, he was hooked. He participated for several more years as a walker, raising much more than the minimum donation each year. As time passed, Gary became more involved in the 3-Day organization by participating on advisory panels and offering suggestions about how to grow the event.

A few years ago, Gary transitioned from a walker to a crew member, but did not lose his drive to make the event the best it could be. He continues to fundraise thousands of dollars each year as a crew member, and gives his all on event. Whether he’s driving a truck, setting up a shelter, restocking the food tent, or encouraging walkers, he’s there with a smile and a can-do attitude that keep everyone going. If Gary sees something that needs to be done, he will take care of it, no questions asked. For three days, he’s not just our dad, but everyone’s dad. If someone is struggling to open a case of water, he’s there with his pocketknife to help out. When he sees a walker struggling to make it into lunch, he offers them his camp chair or a fresh piece of cardboard to make them more comfortable. Gary always has a warm smile and is ready with a good dad joke to make people smile. And when friends and family come to visit and cheer the walkers on, he’s the first to welcome the little kids to the event as a temporary grandpa. I am so proud of the commitment Gary has made to the 3-Day event and to finding a cure for breast cancer. His positive attitude and hard work are truly an inspiration.”

His other daughter (and fellow Crew member!) Emily, echoes that sentiment.

“In 2008 my dad asked my sisters and I which one of us wanted to walk 60 miles with him. Now, none of us are particularly athletic so we weren’t sure what he was thinking, but Dad filled us in. He wanted to participate in the Susan G Komen 3-Day in memory of his colleague Linda Dinger, who had recently lost her battle with breast cancer. Thinking of the family connection we also have – my grandmas both survived breast cancer – I agreed to be his buddy and tent-mate for what would become our first event. I was intimidated by the fundraising, but Dad told me not to worry; it turned out he was very right! That first event was both a learning and bonding experience, sharing a smaller space in a pink tent than we ever had, and Dad improvised some first aid techniques for a blister that definitely weren’t part of the training. We didn’t usually keep the same pace but we met up at lunch each day, even when I had to sweep there, and that really kept me going. By the time we crossed the finish line together, Dad was hooked on the experience and talking about things to do for the next time.

Dad continued to walk until a few years ago, with my Mom as his personal support team, smashing through the fundraising minimums every year. Even after joining me, my sister Liz, and later my brother-in-law Tom as crew, Dad continues to fundraise like a walker with his unwavering dedication to the cause. Dad had heart bypass surgery a few years ago, and I’m sure that all his walking kept him in good physical shape and helped his recovery. Even after his surgery, Dad has not missed a Michigan 3-Day event since we started.
I’m so proud of my Dad’s contributions to all aspects of the 3-Day, from motivating other walkers with “dad jokes” and a fart noise machine, to helping run a pit stop, to participating on the advisory council to his remarkable fundraising.”

After all of that heartfelt praise and admiration, we had to speak with the man himself! This is the 3-Day, according to Gary.

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

A good friend and co-worker lost her hard fought battle with breast cancer in 2006. She was a young mother of 3 taken from us too soon by this disease. I decided to participate in the 3-Day to honor her memory.

What has brought you back year after year?

While we have made great progress over the last 12 years there is still a lot more to do. I hope to stay involved until we have a cure. Also, I do this to show my children that it is important to have causes and to give your time and energy to supporting them. Two of my daughters and my son-in-law participate with me each year.

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

It starts with a great group of friends and family that know how important it is to find a cure so that future generations don’t have to experience this disease. It also helps to be doing this to honor a woman that was loved by so many. In addition to this I believe the secret to my success in persistence. I start with this long list of annual donors with a letter soliciting their continued support. Then I repeat it every month until I receive a donation. Not many have told me to stop because I am becoming annoying but many have thanked me for the reminder and said  “I thought I had already donated”.

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

Work hard to fundraise and train before the event. If it is your first 3-Day try to join a group of experienced 3 Dayers who can help you with training and fundraising tips. Once you are on event – Have Fun!! Reflect during the day on why you are here and engage with others along the route – share stories and make new friends!!

What is a fun fact about you?

I am a jokester. My kids and grand-kids moan and groan at my “Dad Jokes”. It gets so bad at times that I tell them something serious and they wait for the punchline!! I have to tell them I am not joking. Oh well, a small price to pay I suppose!!

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

This event is ultimately about raising money for breast cancer research and programs that save lives. If you are on event you have done your job and you should feel very proud for doing so. This is not about causing yourself physical harm. Walking each step of the 60 miles is an accomplishment but not a requirement. You know your body and what it can do. Please don’t push it beyond your comfort level. All of your supporters want you to be healthy the day after the event. Tired but healthy!!

Congratulations, Gary!

Dancing Tunes from the 3-Day Safety Crew

The only thing we love more than a 3-Day pump-up song is our amazing 3-Day Crew. Both keep our walkers dancing along their 60-mile journey and provide unparalleled inspiration on the 3-Day weekend. And many times, crew members and cool tunes go hand in hand.

From dance parties at pit stops to safety Crew blasting tunes as you cross the street to the motorcycle Crew driving by and playing that much needed rendition of “Firework” to help propel you up that last hill of the day…our 3-Day Crew are music masters. So, who better to ask for musical recommendations as we gear up for the 3-Day season? We tapped all our crew members to collect the best beats in the land.

Barbara “Bebe” Boone is a regular on the 3-Day Safety Crew, and even if you don’t know her personally, you’ve likely seen her on the road. She always smiling, dancing and blowing kisses to participants as she rides by or is parked at stop lights. She, maybe more than anyone, knows how much of a difference a good song can make on the route.

“I have more than 500 songs on my 3-Day Spotify playlist. 😊 Three days’ worth of feet-stomping, booty-shaking, family-loving motivation. I’ve found that having a wide variety works as we have walkers, crew members and volunteers from all over the country and in every age group, so my list is from the 1920’s to today. There are always at least one or two walkers that sing along or even stop and dance as they pass.”

Want to get a taste of Bebe’s playlist, and other favorites from the 3-Day Crew? Here’s a playlist they put together, just for you:



Also, be sure to keep an eye out for Bebe on the road in Michigan, New England Philadelphia AND San Diego this year 😊

If you want more playlist inspiration, be sure to poke around on our Spotify channel for playlists from your coaches, our past events and more.

Did we miss a favorite song that the Crew has played while you were on event? Add it to the comments below so we can add it to the playlist!

NOTE: Walkers are not permitted to wear headphones or use mobile phones or texting devices while walking. It is extremely unsafe. If you need to use your phone, stop and step to the side first. And please don’t use your phone’s speaker to play music or make calls while walking.

We Crew for MaMa Tutu: Meet Ken and Kris Kauker

The sign says it all!

Eight family members. More than 30 events. Walkers, crew, youth corps, walker stalkers. The Kauker and Lawrie families have the 3-Day running through their veins. And that includes Ken and Kris Kauker. Most Philadelphia 3-Dayers know them as the TuTu Brothers and remember their fun outfits and wide smiles as they ride by while on the Safety Crew.

They are just a small part of a true family movement to support the 3-Day’s mission, in memory of their mother, Julie Kauker (MaMa TuTu), who passed away from inflammatory breast cancer in 2011. With Mother’s Day this Sunday, Ken and Kris are giving us a deeper look at their family’s dedication to the 3-Day, and the love for their parents that started it all.

2018 Atlanta 3-Day TuTuBros.jpg

Meet the Kauker/Lawrie family (TuTu family) members…

Our family of five was always a close family. We did everything together: family camping on the weekends, participating and watching sporting events, vacations to local destinations, working behind-the-scene at our local community theatre and even performing as a colonial family at local historic sites.

Thankfully, many of those things we still do. And yes, still as a family. At the head of the family were our parents. Mom and Dad (MaMa and PaPa TuTu) were involved with everything the family did. No one family member would ever end up being the only one. This goes for everything we do. If one of us is involved, we are all involved.

2014 Philadelphi 3Day Kathleen holding moms photo.jpg

And then in 2006, everything changed…

When our Mom was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, she wasn’t the only one getting ready for the battle. We were all involved with every aspect of the treatments, doctor’s visits, hospital stays and everything else that goes along with it. She didn’t go anywhere alone. Someone was always there taking notes, holding all the paperwork, asking all the questions and anything else we could do to make things a little easier.

Things moved quickly through chemo treatments, surgeries, and radiation treatments. We describe the days after a diagnosis like riding a roller coaster. There were the days of climbing the hills. There were the days of flying down the hill. There were the days of screaming around curves. There were days of being turned upside down. There were days when all we could do is hold on and scream in fear. But, like with all rollercoasters, the ride came to an end.

With the help of countless doctors and countless nurses, Mom was given a clean bill of health and the road to recovery was complete. And just like riding a rollercoaster, we laughed and were joyous that the ride was over.

2016 Philadelphia 3Day

From there, the family began to move forward…

With everything behind us, it was a radio commercial that sparked the realization to pay it forward and the medium in which to do it. The commercial was for the Philadelphia 3-Day that would be taking place in October. It was this commercial that pushed our family into the realm of the 3-Day family.

And they never looked back…

Our 3-Day family has been with us since 2008. They’ve been there when we needed them and when we didn’t know we needed them. They were there when our Mom passed away and again 10 months later when our Dad passed away. They provided the light down the dark passages that cancer and losing someone forces you to go down. Every city that we’ve crewed has welcomed all of us with loving, open arms and made us a part of their family.

The Philadelphia 3-Day may be our home event, but when it comes down to it, the Crew is a part of every walk, no matter what city it takes place in.

That means our family is always part of the 3-Day, no matter where we are.

2018 Philadelphia 3-Day Family.jpg

Spread the love this Mother’s Day to the special women in your own life! You can share a personalized love note with your mom this Mother’s Day and Susan G. Komen will then share one with a mother facing breast cancer. komen.org/withlovexoxo