The Spirit of Giving: The Susan G. Komen 3-Day Santa

Anyone who has been to a Susan G. Komen 3-Day® knows that during those three days, beauty is all around you. Each day is also packed with hope, inspiration, endurance, and magical moments. Some of that Komen 3-Day magic comes from the smiles and cheers of spectators, rooting you on to keep putting one foot after the other. Some of it comes from sitting down at lunch, enjoying some water, a yummy sandwich and a chat with your fellow 3-Dayers. Some of it comes from the beauty of the scenery around you, winding paths through lush green forests, or the dazzling sky line of the city. However, the best magic comes from the people you meet, each one with their own inspiring story, and few stories feel more magical than the 3-Day® Santa.

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Santa is easy to spot, with a full white beard and fuzzy pointed hat (naturally, he traded in red for pink for this occasion). He is greeted with joy by the many participants and spectators who want to take a photo with him. Santa is a veteran walker (this Philadelphia event is his eighth 3-Day), a training walk leader, a member of the North Pole Endurance Team, and is known as the Marathon Santa for all of the events he participates in. He has also been photographed with his Naughty or Nice list for the 60-Mile Men calendar (composed of male 3-Day participants). When Santa isn’t at the North Pole, he spends time at what he calls “a major workshop in Maryland,” sometimes dabbling in chemical engineering. He trains about 1,000 miles per year, and completes multiple charitable events, including pancreatic cancer awareness events and the Disney Marathon weekend.

Why does Santa fly his sleigh to the 3-Day and walk 60 miles? Santa joined the 3-Day family after participating in the Global Race for the Cure in Washington, D.C. After seeing an ad for the 3-Day, Santa decided to take a bold step and walk his first 60 miles. “I have a personal score to settle with breast cancer,” he said.  “I walk for several reasons. When my son got married, his wife’s mother died shortly after from breast cancer.” His son’s wife and her two sisters were tested for BRCA gene, and “of the three girls, my son’s wife was BRCA positive.” Later, his 82-year-old aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Santa also tells the story of meeting a family at a Get Started Meeting who had a 12-year-old daughter facing breast cancer. Santa had a personal mission to fundraise $10,000 in the name of this young lady, and he embarked on his “Bold Bald Santa” initiative. Santa made a promise that if he raised $10,000, he would walk an event completely bald. To help rally his supporters to $10,000, he dyed his hair neon green, eventually progressing to hot pink, and then a mohawk, and then he shaved it off when he surpassed his goal and raised $15,000.

Santa's home away from the North Pole includes twinkling Christmas lights and Santa flags.

Santa’s home away from the North Pole includes twinkling Christmas lights and Santa flags.

Meeting Santa is a special experience for everybody, children and adult 3-Dayers alike. In Santa’s spirit of giving, he passes out a special memento to those he meets along the route: a beautiful custom minted coin with his likeness. Santa gradually created more and more unique coins, all illustrated by himself, including coins for Mrs. Claus, his CEO (Chief Elf of Operations), the North Pole Elves, and even a special coin for pets. “Throughout the years, everybody kept asking me, do you have a coin for my pet? The 2013 edition is a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer coin, just for people’s pets.” These coins establish Santa’s ‘credibility’. “When a child comes up to me, I let them start the conversation. I get some very strange questions,” Santa laughs. A common question Santa encounters is, “Are you real?” Sometimes the coins aren’t enough to prove his authenticity, so when he meets a real skeptic, Santa whips out his International Sleigh License, complete with a North Pole address, Date of Birth of ‘Ageless’ and a weight of ‘Jolly’.

Santa passes out special custom coins to those he meets.

Santa passes out special custom coins to those he meets.

Santa’s role as a 3-Day walkers is inspiring, and he’ll often walk with other 3-Dayers and encourage them to keep moving. “People say to me, ‘You know, if it hadn’t been for you, I couldn’t have finished.’ I try really hard to live up to my motto, which is the tradition of giving. I try to inspire people to do that little bit extra for giving support.”

Santa is definitely a giver: of hope, inspiration, and the unwavering endurance it takes to fight breast cancer. His message rings loud and clear with the 3-Day family: choose to believe in magic and the spirit of giving.

Part 3 of the ABC’s of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Crew

Welcome to part three of the ABC’s of the Komen 3-Day Crew! We’ve shared letters A – E, F – J and this week, we’re excited to present letters K through O. We invite you to tell us your ideas for each letter here or on Facebook, and to share these images with your family and friends. (To see the 3-Day walker version of the ABC’s, click here!)

 

susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog ABC's of the 3-Day crew kindnessThe 3-Day is a place where crew members go above and beyond to show kindness in everything they do. They work long hours and get little sleep. They work together, with strangers for the good of a common cause. They’re ready for anything that could pop up at any time. Being on the 3-Day is like living in a perfect world for three days: kindness, goodwill, adventure and the joy of working towards one amazing goal – ending breast cancer forever.

See also: Knife (This may seem like an odd thing to spotlight on the ABC’s, but many veteran crew members would agree about the importance of a good cutting tool. Whether it’s for opening the dozens of boxes of packaged food at pit stops, quickly slicing through zip ties to take down route arrows, or cutting apart cardboard for walkers to sit on at lunch, having a good knife is important for a lot of the crew.)

 

susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog ABC's of the 3-Day crew liftingBeing a 3-Day crew member is not an easy alternative to walking. Many crew jobs require great physical demands from team members, including heavy lifting. This could include loading luggage onto gear trucks, moving bags of ice or boxes of food, or even setting up the large tent structures in camp.

See Also: Lasting Memories (You’ll make lots of them!); Legacy Pins

 

susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog ABC's of the 3-Day crew motorcyclesSome of the coolest looking crew members you’ll see are on the Route Safety crew. They’re the ones on motorcycles, patrolling the route to ensure safety and monitoring intersections to make sure walkers get safely across. And if those motorcycles are occasionally wearing giant pink bras, then you know you’re on the 3-Day for sure.

See Also: Medical Crew

 

susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog ABC's of the 3-Day crew nursesThe 3-Day medical crew is made up of Doctors, PAs, NPs, RNs, LVNs/LPNs and EMTs (Basic and Paramedic), ready to lend their professional expertise in service of the walkers.

 

susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog ABC's of the 3-Day crew opening ceremonyWhen you arrive for the Opening Ceremony on Friday morning, the 3-Day crew teams have already been up for hours, directing traffic, loading your gear, setting up pit stops and much more. Many crew teams will attend the Opening Ceremony and be there to cheer the walkers out, but then it’s right back to work!

 

What other words can you think of for these letters? How about for P,Q,R,S, and T? Tell us here in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!