Congratulations to the 2019 Seattle 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Penny Kellam

For the 2019 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season, we’re pleased to be continuing the Local Impact Award. This award is being given to participants who have been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day® community throughout the year. Local Impact Award honorees have gone above and beyond in their efforts leading training walks, attending 3-Day community events, supporting the 3-Day staff year-round at meet-ups and workshops, and in general, making a difference by building lasting relationships and showing commitment to the 3-Day in all they do.

Please join us in congratulating the 2019 Seattle 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Penny Kellam!

The amount of love for Penny on the Seattle 3-Day is unparalleled, and her team Kindred Spirits teammates could not stop gushing about her.

Teammate Denise Stark says, “Penny to me epitomizes the 3-Day in our community. She has rallied people and support to fight breast cancer through Susan G. Komen from all walks of life. She’s what I would describe as an influencer and a networker, connecting people and organizations with the cause and with each other that might otherwise have never connected. I would not be involved with the 3-Day today had it not been for a random meeting through the run she organizes every year to raise funds for the 3-Day. I can’t think of anyone who has done more to inspire and to deserve the Local Impact award than Penny.”

Kris Lambright, another one of Penny’s teammates, echoes those feelings.

“Penny is an amazing team captain! She makes sure that all teammates get help if needed to be fully funded, she makes sure you are prepared to walk (not just trained but with packing tips, Thursday team dinner, Thursday night hotel, etc.), and she has made the team into a family that supports each other not only on the walk but throughout the year. She also emphasizes the importance of kindness during the 3-Day – to other walkers, crew, and supporters. She basically just embodies our team name of Kindred Spirits.”

Then, we heard about Penny’s 3-Day love and dedication, right from Penny herself!

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

I was diagnosed with cervical and uterine cancer in late 1999. At the time I was given a 24% chance of survival. The uterine cancer was posed to take me out, but I was blessed with an amazing team of professionals that had a plan, listened me (and my gut instincts) and developed and adjusted a plan that respected my needs and brought me through.  We made decisions together that might not work for everyone but that worked for me. The absolute worst moment of my entire cancer journey was sharing my diagnosis with my sons – 13 & 15 at time. No parent should ever see the ragged fear in their child’s eyes that too many of us have witnessed.

What has brought you back to the 3-Day year after year?

That first year I walked for myself. It was all about my journey and my need to draw a line in the sand between cancer patient and cancer survivor. It was selfish but necessary. No apologies here.

That said that first walk was supposed to be a one and done…but something changed on Day 2. I was walking alone after putting a teammate on a Sweep Van. I was walking as fast as I could to move through the walkers to where I knew I knew a couple of my teammates were walking ahead. I went to pass “on the left” of a pair of young gals – in their 20’s, wearing matching shirts with “For the Love of Josie” on the back. One of them carried a pair of worn tennis shoes with a brand new sparkly angel – and I knew my heart couldn’t stand to ask. I’d been crying for two days and I thought I was spent.  But the universe had other ideas. The person behind me asked about Josie. And I listened. It turned out that Josie was Mom to one of these young girls. She had trained and fundraised and planned to walk with these best friends. They carried her training shoes because Josie had passed two weeks before but they couldn’t walk without her. I cried for the next two miles. Seriously cried. Because in that split second I had the vision of my boys walking with my face on their shirts and my shoes slung across their shoulder. And nothing about that was okay.

Then I saw the big picture.  I suddenly understood how absence of one of us throws ripples into the pond that never end. I had no choice but to sign up again…and again…and again. This year I’m walking New England (#34), Seattle (#35) and San Diego (#36) where my husband will join me as a first-time walker.

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

Ask everybody and then ask them again. Do not take the opportunity away from someone to support this important work by deciding for them that they aren’t interested in or capable of helping. You have no idea how this monster may have affected them or their family or their friends. I have too many personal stories of times when I hesitated to ask but finally took the plunge only to be overwhelmed by connections I didn’t know about and the absolute generosity of people I had thought unable to financially support this cause. Ask everybody!!

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

Enjoy the journey. There is something uniquely special about the people that step outside their personal comfort zone to do something this bold and challenging. Talk to everybody. Really talk to them. You’ll hear stories that you’ll never forget. You’ll enrich your 3-Day experience with every conversation. Stop and hug that survivor on the side of the road. Talk to the littles that come out to cheer you on. Don’t rush through everything looking at your feet. Consciously make the effort to look up and connect.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I spent the first seven years of my life as a proud resident of North Pole, Alaska. Santa Claus lived just down the highway from me, I routinely fell asleep to the crackle of the Northern Lights and we had a momma moose that would bring her calves to winter in the protection of the “L” formed by our house – all of which I thought was perfectly normal until I moved down to Washington State just before high school.

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

  • Kindness is everything.
  • We can do the hard things – especially when we think we can’t.
  • Family comes from many different places and only some of them may share your bloodline.
  • There are a lot of things in this world that I cannot change but I can talk and walk and organize and motivate and until cancer is a footnote in the history books you can expect to find me doing all of those things to speed along the end of this monster.

Congratulations to the 2019 Michigan 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Melissa Melson

For the 2019 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season, we’re pleased to be continuing the Local Impact Award. This award is being given to participants who have been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day® community throughout the year. Local Impact Award honorees have gone above and beyond in their efforts leading training walks, attending 3-Day community events, supporting the 3-Day staff year-round at meet-ups and workshops, and in general, making a difference by building lasting relationships and showing commitment to the 3-Day in all they do.

Please join us in congratulating the 2019 Michigan 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Melissa Melson!

Her Team Captain, Janice Shore, raves about Melissa!

“The Hines Pink Pathers are so very happy that Melissa is receiving this award! Melissa is considerate and kind to all she encounters and is always willing to help with questions or problems, whether it is 3-Day related or not. Melissa really puts her heart and soul into everything she does including her commitment and dedication to the 3-Day!”

We got to know Melissa a little better, and learn more about the serious impact she has had on the Michigan 3-Day. When she was answering these questions, she didn’t yet know that she’d be our award winner!

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

I am not sure what it was. It was just a feeling truthfully. I had heard about it before and the end of 2011 on the radio and was inspired by the 3-Day message and ad. I heard the advertisement on the radio and I just felt like I had to sign up. I was stuck in traffic and it just felt like the right thing to do.

My mom’s mom had breast cancer probably 20 years prior but no one else had it when I first walked. Despite not really knowing people diagnosed when I first signed up, that was soon to change, and it turns out the 3Day was leading me right where I needed to be! My mom ended up being diagnosed right after the end of my first walk with stage 2 almost 3 breast cancer. The following spring a classmate was diagnosed at age 30 with Triple negative breast cancer, and she died 3 years later. Many more have been diagnosed over these last 7 or 8 years including my stepmom as well.  Watching then fight such a hard fight made me frustrated and I needed to do something. Unbeknownst to me, the 3-Day helped me find my way to help, my purpose before I knew I needed it.

What has brought you back to the 3-Day year after year? 

The people I met on my first 3-Day became the family I got to choose. It was an amazing positive and proactive environment despite having a rough first walk. I didn’t train like I should have. I didn’t have the right shoes, and I didn’t know anyone really when I started. I was about 80 lbs heavier, but the happy pink bubble draws me back every year. I could have had blisters and sore muscles from head to toe, and I would still come back year after year.

It’s also the list of names I walk for that grows each year unfortunately.  More people need me. I feel like I need to raise money for those who can’t and walk for those who are unable to. This walk gives me a way to help, a way to deal with a feeling of helplessness to help my loved ones when I cannot cure their cancer or take their pain away.

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

Start early, do a variety of things, and join a team if you need the extra support to help, give you ideas, and they can help you train and be better prepared too. I send emails and reminders. Just because someone doesn’t donate this year doesn’t mean they won’t next year, or that their busy life won’t get them sidetracked and they forget.

Contact local businesses, talk to your job to see what you can do there. You can do online fundraisers where you can reach people outside your neighborhood or social circle. Try a lot of different things because what works for one community might not work well in yours. What works for your friends might not be as successful with the people you know, so broaden your reach and try a variety of types of fundraisers until you figure out what works for you.

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

Be prepared (train, good shoes, and focus on health going in) but also have fun. Don’t rush, stop and enjoy the pink roses lol. Enjoy all the beautiful people and the 3Day family. This is a pink bubble, that is unlike anywhere or anything else in the world.

What’s a fun fact about you? 

I was just on Channel 4 news, interviewed by Paula Tutman for a recently developing passion! I’ve always cared about the environment and animals and living creatures. I think pesticides that kill bees and pollinators are not good for us either and I can do something to help pollinators and the world we live in. I found out a way to help and started my own pollinator and environmentally friendly flower garden. It is over 15 ft long and about 4 feet wide and doing pretty well considering this is my first year as a gardener.

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

  • Do what you can, the best you can.
  • One step at a time.
  • I cannot tap out until Cancer does first.
  • Great shoes go a long way.
  • Health and hydration sure make life easier!

Congratulations, Melissa!

Congratulations to the 2018 Atlanta 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Andi Counts

Andi Counts_Atlanta Local Impact Winner

For the 2018 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season, we’re pleased to be continuing the Local Impact Award. This award is being given to participants who have been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day® community throughout the year. Local Impact Award honorees have gone above and beyond in their efforts leading training walks, attending 3-Day community events, supporting the 3-Day staff year-round at meet-ups and workshops, and in general, making a difference by building lasting relationships and showing commitment to the 3-Day in all they do.

Please join us in congratulating the 2018 Atlanta 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Andi Counts.

Her teammate Janice said,I love Andi and I’m so blessed to have her as a friend and a teammate. After our 3-Day event, she invites everybody over to her house for ‘pink on the porch’ where we have great time reminiscing about the 3 Day.”

Her friend Anne says that, “Andi’s commitment to the breast cancer cause is stellar!  She is a great walking partner – we call them therapy walks sometimes…lots of time to talk as well all know.  What I admire about Andi is that she supports this cause for her friends, giving selflessly all around the year.”

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With such high praise, we just had to hear from Andi herself.

What was your inspiration for the 3-Day?

In 2005, a friend and previous walker asked if I wanted to join her the following year. Registering was mainly to add some fun to the exercise routine I had recently begun after years of being a couch potato and to do something good in the process. Who knew I’d still be walking 13 years and 15 walks later? Who knew I’d lose a close 3-Day friend and have many more survivor friends diagnosed during those same 13 years?

What has brought you back to the 3-Day year after? The 3-Day gives more than it takes — even though it does take a lot to train, fundraise and keep on showing up. It’s a tidy package of social connections, philanthropy and exercise all tied up in a pink bow. In all the years of walking beside someone new, I’m always amazed by the depth, strength and enthusiasm for life of my fellow walkers. 3-Dayers are an interesting and entertaining bunch of folks who leave me a better person after each encounter.

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

Fundraising has been easier for me than for some due to a large network of generous friends. I’ve found that paper letters work better than emails since that paper reminder stays in their stack of bills or on the fridge until they act upon it — with no reminders necessary. I’m not shy about asking anyone I come in contact with for a donation. No one is annoyed about being asked and gives, or not, as they wish. Large donations come from the most surprising asks, and donors are mostly consistent from year to year. When I started doing two walks per year, I asked for double the amount and many did! The same thing happened during the years my son walked and we had to fundraise for two.

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

Get out and meet other walkers, ask questions, learn all their tricks, and then modify to make it all work for you.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I’m a native Atlantan who has lived three miles away from two different Georgia mountains — Stone Mountain and Kennesaw — and have enjoyed climbing them both frequently.

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

1. Breast cancer can attack anyone at any time.

2. The men of the 3-Day are simply amazing.

3. It is okay to take candy from strangers, pink is my favorite color and plastic tiaras have magic powers!