Dallas Fort Worth 3-Day Coaches’ Favorite Memories

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You already know coaches Gayla, Liz and Val from your Dallas Fort Worth 3-Day team. They are the group who are so ready for all our walkers and crew to begin their 60-mile journey this weekend. And they will be welcoming everyone with smiling faces and pink-clad open arms!

As you get your final preparations done this week, they’re here to give you even more to be excited about. From favorite spots on the route, to their most prized memories together, to their top pump-up jams the coaches are sharing their personal 3-Day highlights.

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What are your favorite memories of the 3-Days past?

Coach Val: I’ve built some amazing relationships with my crew members over the years and seeing them each year make the entire event feel like one big wild and crazy family reunion. The year I got duct taped to a gator by our crew and youth corps (as a reward for fundraising) will always stand out as a fun year.

Coach Gayla: My favorite memories of my past 3-Day events have been on the TaTa Towing Sweep Crew with my mom (for three years) and with my daughter (for two years).

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What are your favorite memories of your fellow coaches?

Coach Gayla: I look forward to every November because Liz will always fly from Arizona to Dallas a week early to work/play with Val and I. Last year we registered and participated in the MS Muckfest together with some friends/co-workers. It was a hilarious and filthy good time!

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What are your favorite spots on the route?

Coach Liz: I love Vitruvian Park and the Cattle stampede in downtown Dallas

Coach Gayla: My favorite spots on the route are Day 1 after pit stop 1, walking by Aldridge Elementary School students first thing in the morning. They are SO excited to see us! Day 2 I like Vitruvian Park where the last public cheering station is before we enter camp. It’s beautiful and people love to gather there. Day 3 has to be either Curtis Park or Lakeside Park in Dallas.

Coach Val: Much of the route travels through the area in which I grew up. I used to spend my Friday nights as a teenager at Collin Creek Mall and I went to college at Brookhaven, so you could say the whole route is my favorite. But, I truly love Day 3. I never realized how amazing downtown Dallas could be until I did a route drive (via bicycle) with Gayla one year. Ever since then, Day 3 has been my favorite. And this year I’m so excited for our new Closing Ceremony site!

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What are your favorite spots in DFW to eat, play?

Coach Liz: Well since I live in Arizona, when I come to Dallas, it is all about where to eat.  One of my favorites is a small family owned Italian place called Eddie’s Napolis in Frisco. But there is also Ida Claire’s, The Truck Yard, and Fuzzy’s Taco’s

Coach Gayla: Living in Frisco, just north of Dallas, there are so many things to do! The Dallas Cowboys Headquarters at Ford Center is a cool place to visit, Cowboys Fit to work out, restaurants at The Star, and so much more. Also, Legacy West in Plano has all kinds of new things. The Legacy Food Hall should be opening the weekend before the 3-Day, so I’m chomping at the bit!

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Coach Val: In Dallas, I LOVE Jorge’s Tex Mex Café. They have some of the best tortilla soup and their location in the Arts District is a perfect spot to grab a bite before or after a show at the Winspear Opera House, the Wyly Theatre or the Moody Performance Hall. I love musical theatre and the Arts District is one of my favorite areas to spend the day. Theatre, good food, museums, an over-the-freeway park, what’s not to love?

Living in Denton (North of Dallas) is lots of fun. I enjoy spending time on the Square and eating a fantastic burger at LSA before heading over to the Oak St. Drafthouse for a tasty adult beverage.

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What are your favorite pump-up songs?

Coach Val: My go-to get out of bed or get moving when exercising song is “Let’s Get It Started” by the Black Eyed Peas. Really, anything by them counts as a great walking song! I also like anything by P!nk.

Coach Gayla: I love…

That’s What I Like and 24K Magic – Bruno Mars

Bicycle Race and Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Can’t Stop the Feeling and SexyBack – Justin Timberlake

Meet the 3-Day Team: Gayla Cruikshank, Dallas/Fort Worth Coach

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You have seen her on the 3-Day Facebook Live videos, our Instagram feed, and those from the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day know her face well, but it’s time to really get to know Dallas/Fort Worth Local Events Coach Gayla Cruikshank.

She loves celebrating Taco Tuesday, spending time with her family (including husband of 28 years!), and is a constant supporter of all things 3-Day. This began more than a decade ago in 2005 when she first walked the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. Since then, she has been hooked.

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“Since 2005, I was either a walker or a volunteer crew member at the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, and started volunteering during the training season more and more. I loved the people who staffed the event, as well as the participants I walked with and helped all season as a volunteer and training walk leader. I craved to be a part of the organization at any level.”

Then, in 2013, she became a full-time member of the 3-Day staff, and now gets to work in the “powerful, inspiring, love-filled” 3-Day environment every day. This includes holding Get Started Meetings, leading training walks, working with walkers to help them reach their training and fundraising goals, as well as being a full-time cheerleader for anyone who needs her help.

This spirit especially comes in handy when recruiting and encouraging first-time walkers.

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“I encourage people to join the 3-Day by motivating them to try something that they’ve probably never done before. Fundraising for a cause that’s saving lives, training with passionate people driven to end breast cancer, hearing survivor stories and the thanks they share for your commitment—it all empowers a person to take on something bigger than themselves. It’s inspiring and life-changing.”

She also explains that, though the task can seem daunting at first, fundraising and training for the 3-Day isn’t something to be worried about, thanks to the help provided by team members like her.

“The coaches will share how to raise funds in a way that works with that individual’s personality. Whether you’re shy or outgoing, we have so many successful fundraising ideas that will surprise and encourage you to reach your goals sooner rather than later.

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“We also provide a gradual training schedule and you can walk as much or as little as you want. We have sweep vans to give you a lift on the route to a pit stop if you’re tired or even done for the day. Others say they can’t raise the money because they don’t know enough people to donate $2,300. You never know who will donate to you until you ASK. We have over 100 different ways to fundraise that have been tried and are successful. Coaches can also introduce you to a team that’s ready to welcome solo walkers and help reach those fundraising goals.”

All your hard work becomes worth it on event, where Gayla says she loves the community experience.

“You meet people, listen to their stories, eat with them, sleep in the neighboring tent, cry with them, laugh with them and build a bond that can literally last a lifetime.”

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Those bonds extend beyond the 3-Day walkers, and into the whole community, which Gayla says is one of the things she’s most excited about this year.

“I’m looking forward to a whole lot more community involvement along the sidewalks this year, as well as our new Closing Ceremony site. I’m asking everyone to mention the 3-Day to businesses and friends in hopes to get every sidewalk covered with spectators cheering on the walkers all three days until we enter the Participant Finishing Area in downtown Dallas!”

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Go Gayla, go! If Gayla has motivated you to get out there and start training right now, she also has you covered on your walks! She shared some of her favorite work-out songs with us, as well as her top spots along the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day route.

Dance as you walk to:

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Keep an eye out for these Gayla-approved spots along the way though!

Burt’s Bench: Meet Burt L., 3-Day Walker

There is a bench on Day 3 of the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. It’s a beautiful bench, as far as benches go, with a shiny, smooth steel construction, and elegantly turned legs. It’s seated on a platform of river rocks, overlooking a fountain framed by trees. The hundreds of 3-Dayers who walk by this bench in Curtis Park may think it’s just a bench, but to 23-time participant Burt Lipshie it’s more than just a bench. This bench is the last place he talked to his cousin before she died of breast cancer.

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Burt’s cousin Judy is “my dearest, sweetest cousin in the whole world. Breast cancer killed her in 2004.”

It seems like a twist of fate brought Burt to the 3-Day. “A month or so after she died, I’m sitting in my office in New York, and Judy is everywhere. She’s just everywhere. It’s a hard thing to describe.”

Burt sent an email to Judy’s daughters, saying, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m having a Judy day today.” They wrote back and said they were not surprised, because they were, too. Why were they having a “Judy day,” other than dearly missing their mom?

Their answer to him: “We think our mom is proud of us because we just signed up to walk the 3-Day.”

Burt knew immediately that he would support the 3-Day. “I told them that I would donate… and I thought about it for two days. And then, I thought, no. They can’t do this without me. I’m going to do it too.”

Just two days later, Burt was signed up for his first ever 3-Day. “I had to find some way to fight back. This is the most meaningful way to fight back.”

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There was just one slight problem – the girls had already named their team “Juju’s Girls.”

“We changed the name to ‘Jujus Girls (And boy).’ We walked San Diego that year and I haven’t stopped. This is walk 23.”

What was this special woman like? Judy was “feisty.” Burt refused to tell her age, joking that he could hear Judy from heaven exclaiming, “Burt! What?! You’re telling my age?” She was the type of woman who was dying of breast cancer, but still taking care of her 91-year-old mother. Judy lived in Dallas most of her life, so Burt had plans to meet Judy at the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. But by then, she was too sick to do it.

Towards the very end of the 60-mile route, Burt took a break from walking. “I’m sitting on the bench and I called to see how she was doing, and we talked for about five minutes. An hour later I got the call.”

To Burt, the bench in Curtis Park isn’t just a bench. It’s a tangible memory, a place that marks the devastation of this disease. It’s a place he visits every year before he walks sixty miles in the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, an event that he’s raised more than $208,000 for. It’s a staggering sum that has no doubt helped countless men and women fighting breast cancer. By now, Burt is well-loved by all his fellow walkers and member of the 3-Day Crew. As Burt walks in his neon pink shoes and pink Yankees hat, walkers call out to him, “My man!” slapping high fives and posing for pictures.

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The bench is symbolic to all of us, because many places in the world become like Burt’s bench, marking the last place and time you talked to somebody you love.

When Burt comes to the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, “It’s the first thing I do. I walk up Turtle Creek and I go up to the bench. And I sit on the bench for a little while, and I cry a little bit. And then I come back.”

Burt comes back because in this fight against breast cancer, you must always come back. You may be angry and grieving and devastated, but you must come back. Because, together, when we return to this fight, we are holding steadfast in our promise that we will never give up. And one day, Burt will sit on his bench and know that thanks to him and the help of people like you, more people like Judy will be saved.

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