A 3-Day Love Story

Ask just about any Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participant, and they’ll tell you how much they love the event. But every once in a while we hear a story of true, romantic love blooming on the Komen 3-Day.

Lea and Ryan met in high school, but didn’t know each other very well until they reconnected online 11 years later. Ryan was living near San Diego at the time, and Lea was in northern California. The long-distance flame was kindled, and their first real date was in 2005 when Ryan picked Lea up from the San Diego airport and took her and her teammates to the 3-Day Opening Ceremony (what a guy!). Lea says, “Ryan was so thrown by the emotion and sense of community that he felt at that Opening Ceremony, he instantly knew he wanted to join me next year. He was still not convinced he could walk 60 miles, so in 2006 we joined the San Diego 3-Day Crew together. We started walking together in 2007.”


Lea and Ryan on their first 3-Day together in 2006

Ryan moved back to the Bay Area in 2008, and since the 3-Day returned to San Francisco that year, they were excited to be in a city where their friends and family could come cheer them on. Little did Lea know that Ryan was even more excited that their families were near, because he was planning a special celebration for Sunday of that 3-Day weekend. On Day 3, at pit stop 3, on their 3rd 3-Day together, Ryan pulled Lea aside and proposed. “I was in shock and didn’t know what was happening until a walker screamed out, ‘Oh my God, he’s proposing!’” Lea recalls. “And rather than answer right away my first response was, ‘Have you been carrying that ring this whole time?’ Needless to say, that is one of my favorite 3-Day moments.”


Just a few miles after Ryan’s pit stop proposal

The role that the 3-Day played in Lea and Ryan’s courtship didn’t stop with Ryan’s pit stop proposal. They scheduled their wedding around the 3-Day, intending to get married the weekend before the 2009 San Francisco event. The plan was to kick off their honeymoon by walking in the 3-Day. But the 3-Day had other plans for them. “The day we put the deposit down for our wedding, we got an email that the date for the San Francisco 3-Day was moved up a weekend.”

So they made a small adjustment to the plan.

In October of 2009, Ryan and Lea started Day 1 of the San Francisco 3-Day as an engaged couple. On Day 2, they left the route to do another walk of their own – down the aisle. Then on Day 3, they came back to finish the walk as husband and wife. “It couldn’t have been any better,” Lea says.


Mr. & Mrs.

They even used the 3-Day as a focus for their wedding. They had a traditional “money dance” at the reception and all the proceeds went toward their 3-Day fundraising goals for 2010. They had a dessert bar with all pink treats, a signature cocktail called “The Pink Ribbon” and their wedding colors were pink and black.


A pink-themed reception


The “Money Dance” fundraiser was a success!


Pink treats for everyone

“We are so proud that the 3-Day is not just something that we do, it’s a part of our story.”

Sigh. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Click here to see the news story that a local station did about the happy couple.  (Please note that this story is a few years old,  and the registration information that the reporter shares at the end of the piece is no longer valid.)

Lea and Ryan will be celebrating their 5-year wedding anniversary this October, just a few weeks before they walk in San Diego, their tenth event together.

The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day – Camp: I Love the Night Life!

An event unlike any other, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is a full weekend experience. While the walkers are out putting in all those miles on the route each day, the 3-Day staff and crew are back at camp, creating a home away from home for all participants.

Route image

In the last Insider’s Guide post, I talked about the some of the basic necessities that the 3-Day camp provides for its inhabitants, including sleeping tents and showers. If those things were the only amenities that you got at camp, it would still be impressive. But no. The 3-Day doesn’t stop with the basics. They take your average camping experience and turn it up to 11.

Nom Nom Nom…

As I’ve already described in delicious detail, the 3-Day keeps its participants well-nourished throughout the event, and camp is no exception. The big difference is at camp, you’re treated to hearty, hot catered meals for dinner and breakfast. Fun fact: I recently found out that the 3-Day caterer is the same caterer that the US Olympic team uses. We’re eating the same food that Olympic athletes are eating, you guys! How cool is that?

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

More of anything? More of everything!

There’s a great variety of food options for your in-camp meals. In addition to two or three hot cooked main courses and sides, dinner always includes a salad option, bread and dessert; likewise, breakfast also has scrumptious hot selections, as well as cold fare like cereal, yogurt and pastries. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soft drinks and juices are included with all camp meals as well. And all of this deliciousness is served up right onto your plate by the wonderful Food Service crew team. In case you’re worried about getting enough to fill your belly, rest assured that like your on-route sustenance, food in camp is all-you-can-eat.

Dallas Day 2

A fed walker is a happy walker.

Under the Big Top

Once you’ve got your mitts on a plate (or two…What? Sometimes you need a whole separate plate just for rolls and brownies! Don’t judge me!) of yummy grub, head on over to the dining tent. You can’t miss it. It’s an enormous white tent in the middle of camp.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.


You may already be hearing music coming from inside, as live entertainers perform for your dinnertime enjoyment. As more and more walkers make it back to camp and get settled, the dining tent fills up with the sights and sounds of hundreds of people with 20 miles more of life under their belts. They’re 20 miles more tired, yes, but also more alive. It’s awesome.


Time Out! The Last Walker Has Arrived to Camp!

This is one of my absolute favorite things that happens at the 3-Day camp. As we’ve said before, the 3-Day is a take-it-at-your-own-pace walk, and NOT a race. There was no gold medal for the first person who finished the route hours earlier, but a big announcement is made and everyone stops what they’re doing to come out and welcome the LAST walker who arrives at camp each day.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Escorted by a Route Safety supporter, the last walker carries in a flag with the words, “One Day Closer to the End of Breast Cancer.”

It’s genuinely inspiring and very emotional to see. This is a walker who perhaps moved a little more slowly throughout the day, but still kept moving. Maybe she had to stop and get her sore feet and legs taped up once or twice, but that didn’t stop her. While many of her fellow walkers were already back at camp, showered and fed, she was still putting one foot in front of the other, determined to make it to the end. She’s a living example of the spirit of the 3-Day – a commitment to never give up, even when it’s hard. And now, she raises a flag in the middle of camp to celebrate the victory we all share: being one day closer to the end of breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Well deserved cheers surround the last walker as she raises the flag.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Welcome home!

Back in the Dining Tent…

The nightly Camp Show is another much-anticipated aspect of the 3-Day camp experience. The inspirational hosts of the Opening Ceremony from earlier in the day (seems like forever ago, doesn’t it?) take us through an entertaining and often downright hilarious recap of the day’s adventures, reveal a glimpse into tomorrow’s route and weather forecast, and share other news and announcements from around camp. They also help us welcome guest speakers, including survivors and co-survivors who bravely share their stories. The Camp Show includes videos, a slide show, games, audience participation, music, jokes and more.

San Diego Day 1

Stories from our survivors remind us why we walk.


San Diego Day 1

All kinds of shenanigans go down during the Camp Show.

Friday night is all about celebrating the 3-Day participants. We recognize top fundraisers, top teams, training walk leaders, multi-event participants and team captains. It’s a massive pat-on-the-back for all of the extraordinary things that the 3-Day walkers and crew have accomplished to get where they are. Hugs and high fives for everyone!

On Saturday night, we take that same love fest and open it up to friends and family. This was a new aspect that the 3-Day introduced in 2013, and I think it’s just wonderful. So often, our friends and family members who are not part of the 3-Day themselves struggle to comprehend what an incredible, life-changing experience the 3-Day is. Allowing them to visit camp on Saturday gives them a chance to see first-hand all that you have worked toward for the months leading up to the walk. And it’s not just the visitors who get something out of the experience: last year, I talked to a first-time walker after her event, and she told me that by Saturday night, she was so physically and emotionally exhausted from walking, she was about ready to throw in the towel. But then her family came and met her at camp that night. Getting hugs and kisses from her kids and her husband and being showered with their very sincere amazement at what she was achieving was just the thing she needed to keep going on Sunday.

Boogie Down on 40-Mile Legs

A lot of people would tell you that you’re nuts for walking 60 miles in 3 days. A lot of people would claim that the physical demands of such an endeavor would be overwhelming. A lot of people would shake their heads in disbelief when you tell them that, after completing 40 of those 60 miles, you’re then going to shake your groove thing at the 3-Day’s epic Saturday night dance party. And a lot of people would be so, so very wrong!

The Saturday night dance party is everything a great dance party should be: good music, friends all around you, lots of people who “can’t dance” dancing anyway, laughter, zero judgment, FUN! And yeah, you’re tired and sore from 40 miles of walking, but my hand to heaven, I swear that dancing actually makes your muscles feel better. You may sit there at first and think, “I’m not getting up there,” but the energy is infectious. You feel your toes tap, your hips get a little swivel in them and before you know it, you’re up on the stage leading the crowd in the Wobble.

Think you know all the ins and outs of camp now? Well we’re not done yet! In the next Insider’s Guide post I’ll show you all the ways that the 3-Day makes its participants into “Happy Glampers.”

Want to see the entire Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day? Here are all of the segments:

The Start of Something Beautiful
Pointing, Pacing, and… Motorcycles Wearing Lingerie
Pit Stops and Cheering and Sweeps, Oh My!
3-Day Camp: Just Like a Sleepover, Only More Pink
3-Day Camp: I love the Night Life
3-Day Camp: Happy Glamping on Main Street
Over But Not Ending

The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day – Camp: Just Like a Sleepover, Only More Pink

Just imagine: You did it! You finished Day 1 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®.

Route image

You logged thousands of steps and boy, do your feet feel it. You filled up on string cheese, animal crackers and orange slices and you emptied your water bottle (and your bladder) a dozen times. You took a hundred pictures. You’re sweaty and spent, but looking ahead, you can see the pointy tops of a giant white tent in the distance, like the most welcome circus ever. You hear music and clapping growing louder. Suddenly, you’re filled with exhilaration as you approach the end point, surrounded on all sides by cheering admirers.

San Diego Day 1

High fives for everyone!

The support you had all along the route kept you moving, and right now, it propels your tired body, arms raised triumphantly above your head, over the finish line. You’ve arrived at last to your home away from home for the next 2 nights – CAMP!

Holy smokes, you need to pee again…

Okay, feel better now?

Welcome to Camp!

I’m probably one of the least outdoorsy people you’ll ever meet. My idea of “roughing it” is a hotel without room service. So when I did my first 3-Day, my thought was, “You want me to sleep where now?”


Seriously? THIS is where I get to stay? Yes please!

But it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with camping on the 3-Day, because the 3-Day camp is so many things to me:

  • It’s a big, colorful, vibrantly delightful part of the full 3-Day experience.
  • It’s the long-sought and welcome refuge at the end of a 20-mile road.
  • It’s full of community and congratulations and comfort.
  • Oh, sweet relief, it’s a warm shower!
  • It’s a place where it is perfectly acceptable—expected, even—to wear your jammies to dinner.
  • It’s where my team and I join each other again and share our stories from the route. Have you ever had one of those experiences where you get to the end of the day, then recall something that happened just that morning, and it feels like forever ago? THAT’S the 3-Day! There is SO much life packed into a single day on the 3-Day, that you can spend the whole evening talking and laughing and hugging and crying about things that happened just a few hours ago. And that’s what you do at camp.

The Clean Machines (aka, the 3-Day Shower Trucks)

The fact that they have built showers into the back of semi-truck trailers is American ingenuity at its best, if you ask me. How else could you expect to get hundreds of road-weary walkers and crew members all clean and relaxed while camped out in a mobile city? Other bathing options may be passable (I’ve done mud runs where they literally hosed us down at the end), but the 3-Day shower trucks—like everything else on the 3-Day—exceed expectations. Each truck is divided into private stalls, complete with hooks and benches for your stuff, and you can take as long a shower as you want to. The water pressure is good, and I am pleased to report that I have never taken a cold shower on the 3-Day. Outside the showers, you’ll find baskets of sample-sized beauty products, as well as hair drying stations. There’s even an optional towel service that you can buy so that you don’t have to worry about packing up damp towels. It’s not uncommon to hear audible, sincere sighs of contentment from walkers exiting the showers. A clean walker is a happy walker, ready to take on more miles tomorrow.

mobile shower

Showers on trucks. Brilliant.

A Pink Tent for Two

On the 3-Day, you will share a sleeping tent with one other person. Just you and a buddy, sharing a 6’ x 6’ tent. Some of you are panicking now just thinking about it, I can tell. But take my word, you’ll be fine. Your tent serves a very specific function: to cover you when you’re asleep. The rest of your time in camp will be spent out and about doing other things (which we’ll get to in the next couple of Insider’s Guide posts). You don’t need a whole ton of room for sleeping, and you’ll be so darned tired anyway, it won’t really matter much where you are.

Tampa Day 1

Remember that bag you dropped off early on Day 1? It’s waiting for you at camp, just like baggage claim.

Seattle Day 1

Off to your tent!

Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker take on Day 3 for breast cancer awareness.

Volunteer “tent angels” will help you get your abode all set up.

San Diego Day 2


Take your tent, multiply it by a few hundred, and the result is “Tent City.” It really is a sight to see all of those charming pink nylon domes popped up throughout the campsite. If you’re part of a team, your tents will all be next to each other, like your own little block party in the neighborhood. And like in the neighborhoods you walked through on the route that day, Tent City’s residents pull out all the stops on decorations too, decking out their tents in bras, banners, boas and balloons. You’re encouraged to decorate your tent, or if you decide not to, at least take note of the adornments on the tents near yours; it will help when you’re trying to find your way back from the porta-potties in the middle of the night (“I’m two tents down and one over from the twinkle lights and inflatable palm trees.”).

september 09 140

Home pink home.


Fabulous tent flair is a common sight on the 3-Day

Susan G. Komen walker gear up and take on Day 1 for breast cancer awareness.

Teams tent together, in all kinds of weather.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Just another beautiful morning in Tent City.

My TFL (Tentmate For Life) is my friend Sondra. We fill our little pink home with a queen-sized air mattress, which comfortably cushions us in our two sleeping bags, while still leaving enough room along the side for our bags. There have even been times when we’ve left our bags outside the tent at night (tucked nicely into enormous trash bags for protection from the elements) to give ourselves a little more space. We wear flashlights on our foreheads without feeling the least bit silly. We set our alarms for earlier than we’d like, but it makes it a little easier knowing that the other will rise and shine at the same time. We laugh at each other trying to maneuver into our sleeping bags, and we eventually zip ourselves in, then whisper and giggle for a few minutes, before the earplugs go in and we’re quickly asleep.


Me and my TFL Sondra, ready to take on another day!

The next Insider’s Guide post will get into more of the exciting things awaiting you at camp. I don’t want to say too much now, so I’ll just tease two words: dance party.
Want to see the entire Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day? Here are all of the segments:

The Start of Something Beautiful
Pointing, Pacing, and… Motorcycles Wearing Lingerie
Pit Stops and Cheering and Sweeps, Oh My!
3-Day Camp: Just Like a Sleepover, Only More Pink
3-Day Camp: I love the Night Life
3-Day Camp: Happy Glamping on Main Street
Over But Not Ending