A Salute to the 3-Day Medical Crew

Today is National Nurse’s Day, and we are honored to have many accomplished nurses as part of our 3-Day Medical Crew. Along with doctors, physician’s assistants and other medical professionals, these nurses keep all our 3-Day participants safe and healthy during the 3-Day weekend.

To celebrate them, and nurses across the country, we had a few of our 3-Day Medical Crew Captains share their 3-Day stories.

Barb Diamond Johnson, Medical Captain at the Seattle and Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Days

My commitment to the 3-Day and our local Komen affiliate is thanks to the care my mom received when her insurance fell short. Her care was funded by Susan G. Komen. I initially did the 3-Day in 2007 as a way to pay that back. My intention was to be one and done. But I’m still here…haha! My husband, two daughters, and son-in-law all now participate, too. I even met my current three best friends through the 3-Day.

I have so many amazing memories from my time on the 3-Day…

Years ago, my grandmother lived in Oregon. She used to help take care of the “neighbor girl.” I was in college at this point. I don’t ever remember hearing the neighbor girl’s name. My 1st year in Seattle, (Medical Lead) Jason Page assigned a social worker to my crew. I felt very drawn to her and would continue to have dinner with her when I would come to Seattle to visit my oldest daughter. Later while visiting with her, someone asked where she grew up. She mentioned the town where my grandparents lived. Lo and behold, she is that same neighbor girl! I had quite an ugly cry at that moment. We both now have bracelets that say “Gramma Glady’s Girls.”

Then, another year, we had a participant with Stage IV breast cancer whose family had been pushing her through the event. She would nap at lunch on our cots. Dr. Jim Lummus pushed her from Pit Stop 4 into the Participant Finish Area. We all were affected and inspired by her courage.

I have so many funny memories, and even a few moments of intense emotion, all from the 3-Day.

Robin Knapmiller, Medical Team Captain at the Twin Cities and San Diego 3-Days

It’s hard to express in words the love and appreciation I have for my Medical Team, but I’d like to take a moment to recognize them and thank them for all they do. They have shown over and over the ability to work with complete strangers in a new environment, and to do so with love and compassion, what a gift! I truly believe the personal connection makes a difference in the lives of the walkers. I have seen over and over how they not only treat the blisters and illnesses…but really get to know the walkers by name, share in their stories, meet their families and cry both happy and sad tears together! Sending love and thanks to ALL the3Day Medical Crew. You truly are THE BEST!

I am so honored to be among you, and to have my family at my side too! My daughter Jenni grew up watching me work the event, but since there was not a Youth Corps then, she had to wait until she was older to help. In 2013, Jenni got her Nursing Degree and we could finally work the events together. We haven’t missed a year since!  

Do you have a member of the medical crew who you would like to salute? Are you a medical crew member with a memory from the 3-Day to share? Tell us in the comments! We are honored to have so many talented medical professionals keeping us safe all weekend long.

For more stories about our 3-Day Medical Crew, you can check out these blog posts:

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.

caboosing cheer station

“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!”

made it in the paper 2008

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:

walker stalkers while Darcy and I crewed

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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